Boffins urged to publish in free journals by science sugardaddy

Wellcome Trust: How about those open-access titles, huh? Hint, hint

Expensive research journal subscriptions could be on the way out, if the Wellcome Trust has its way.

The moneybags UK research foundation has published a report favoring free, so-called open access, journals over those that charge a fee for access.

The report reviewed the activities of research institutions that received funding from the trust. It found that it is cheaper, and thus a better use of grants, to place papers in freely available journals.

Meanwhile, the trust feels it's not getting enough bang for its bucks from hybrid publications. These hybrids charge scientists a decent wedge of cash to publish their work, charge people for journal subscriptions, and offer access to individual articles for free.

In other words, the foundation would rather scientists submit their work to open-access journals, which are cheaper than hybrids in terms of publication and subscription costs.

"We find that hybrid open access continues to be significantly more expensive than fully open access journals, and that as a whole, the level of service provided by hybrid publishers is poor and is not delivering what we are paying for," the trust said.

As a result, the trust says that it may need to rethink how it funds projects, encouraging scientists to withhold money from journals that push the less-efficient hybrid pricing model over those giving away articles for free – though the report stopped shy of calling for an outright ban.

"We are mindful of the fact that our researchers want to publish their research in a range of journal outlets, many of which are traditional, subscription-based titles," the trust said.

"We believe declaring that Wellcome funds cannot be used to pay for hybrid OA is too blunt an instrument, unfairly penalising those publishers which provide a good service at a reasonable price, and that it would slow down the transition to a fully OA world – the position we ultimately want to get to." ®

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