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Open Access UK

The UK has taken another step toward making open access the norm for government-funded research, but it also has allowed for a bit of wiggle-room for stragglers who fail to comply with its policy, yet still want to apply for funding, Times Higher Education reports.

Four university research funding bodies have adopted the policy, which states that to be eligible for funding, researchers must deposit their research outputs in an institutional or subject repository when they are accepted for publication. These journal articles and conference proceedings must be made publicly available within 12 months (for scientific articles, 24 months for the humanities).

However, authors who wish to publish in journals that do not permit open access within that period will still be permitted to apply for new funding, and they will have until 2016 to begin complying with new policy.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England said recently that it would have a budget of £1.6 billion ($2.6 billion) to spread around to UK university researchers in 2014 to 2015.

Times Higher Education's Bill Jump says the policy will have a big influence on UK researchers because it is linked to university funding.

HEFCE's David Sweeney says the policy will "increase substantially the amount of scholarly material that is made available in an open-access form."

But it also may lessen the pressure on publishers to make papers open as soon as they are published because it allows academics to choose a cheaper route for publishing, Jump writes.

Imperial College London biologist Stephen Curry calls the move "an important step forward in establishing an open-access culture, and in getting academics into the habit of depositing what they have published in their university repositories."