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Wellcome Trust backs boffins in open publishing row

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The Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s largest non-government funders of science, has reiterated its open-access policy, in a move seen as supporting the growing scientists’ revolt against major academic publisher Elsevier.

So far, more than 9,000 scientists worldwide have attached their names to a boycott of Elsevier, which dominates academic publishing.

In its position statement, the Trust says it “supports unrestricted access to the published output of research as a fundamental part of its charitable mission”.

The statement says the Trust will require, as a condition of supporting research, that researchers publish their work in PubMed Central and UK PubMed Central, no later than six months after publication in peer-reviewed journals. Where required and appropriate, the Trust says it will provide additional funding to grant recipients to cover the costs associated with open access publication.

The Trust has also told The Guardian it is finalizing plans to launch its own open-access peer-reviewed scientific journal, to be called eLife.

It had first announced its intention to launch the publication in June 2011.

While the policy will be welcomed by scientists opposing the stranglehold of large journal publishers over the output of their work, some are concerned that it will be difficult to recoup the costs of publishing their work in open journals.

The Australian National University’s manager of scholarly communications and e-publishing, Danny Kingsley, has told The Conversation that recovering the cost of open-access publishing can be as much as $US2,500 per article, and that recouping the costs from the Trust can be difficult and slow. ®

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