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The Wellcome Trust has made an important announcement (Wednesday 1st October 2003), giving official support to the provision of research through open-access routes. Part of the statement reads:
"The Trust has a fundamental interest in ensuring that neither the terms struck with researchers, nor the marketing and distribution strategies used by publishers (whether commercial, not-for-profit or academic) adversely affect the availability and accessibility of this material. With recent advances in Internet publishing, the Trust is aware that there are a number of new models for the publication of research results and will encourage initiatives that broaden the range of opportunities for quality research to be widely disseminated and freely accessed. The Wellcome Trust therefore supports open and unrestricted access to the published output of research, including the open access model, as a fundamental part of its charitable mission and a public benefit to be encouraged wherever possible. "
The statement goes on:
"Specifically, the Trust:
. . .
* will encourage and support the formation of such journals and/or free-access repositories for research papers;
. . .
* encourages researchers to maximize the opportunities to make their results available for free and, where possible, retain their copyright, as recommended by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and as practiced by BioMed Central, the Public Library of Science, and similar organizations; "
This is an exciting announcement which recognises the complete path that research has to take, from initial funding through to dissemination. It is known that other funding bodies have been talking about such moves along with the Wellcome Trust and it is hoped that this will encourage other funding bodies to look again at advice on the dissemination of their funded research.