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Open-Access Plans

To make the science it funds more accessible, the Wellcome Trust is launching a new open-access journal, called eLife, and plans to "adopt a more robust approach with the scientists it funds, to ensure that results are freely available to the public within six months of first publication," The Guardian reports.

Wellcome Trust also plans to enact sanctions for researchers and the institutions it supports that do not make their work open access according to its new policies. "One option under examination is to make grant renewals contingent on open access compliance, so that new money would be released only once a scientist's previous Trust-supported work is fully accessible," the Guardian says. "Another proposal is to require universities to confirm that papers produced with a Wellcome grant are accessible before the final instalment of that grant is paid."

Wellcome Trust Director Mark Walport tells the Guardian that the journal eLife, which his group is launching in collaboration with the Max Planck Society in Germany and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the US, will compete directly with top-tier publications such as Nature and Science. "Until relatively recently, there were not many alternatives for researchers who wanted to make a big impact with their work – but the commercial success of open-access journals published by the PLoS group, has proved that open access can make money," the Guardian says.

Of eLife, Walport says, "the idea is that that will take on the very top end of the scientific publishing industry, a visible high-profile competitor to Nature and Science. … In no sense is this a war in which we're trying to put them out of business, the thing that would be best for them [publishers] to do is to change their publishing model."