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UK Ponies up for Open Access

The UK government has pledged £10 million ($16 million) to help researchers pay article processing charges for open access publications.

The move will help researchers comply with a new open-access policy adopted last month by the Research Councils UK, as well as the recommendations of a government working group that called for UK funding agencies to support the so-called "gold" model for open-access publishing, "where publishers receive their revenues from authors rather than readers, and so research articles become freely accessible to everyone immediately upon publication."

The new funding will be made to 30 publicly funded institutions and will supplement funding that RCUK will provide through a block grant to support article processing fees once its open-access policy goes into effect on April 1, 2013.

RCUK hasn't disclosed how much it plans to set aside for publishing fees through the block grant, but the Nature News Blog estimates that it could be as much as to £30 million to £60 million a year, or about 1 percent to 2 percent of the RCUK budget.

The Nature News Blog reports that not everyone is in favor of the UK's focus on the "gold" open-access model, with some pushing for a "green" model, in which papers are deposited in public online repositories without the author paying a fee.

However, "the RCUK, whose policy allows both green and gold publication but prefers gold, argues that its gold policy commits publishers to putting out research under a liberal publishing license that makes the work free to text-mine or otherwise reuse," the Nature News Blog says. "That in turn will reap great economic benefit, the council says — far more than the £60-70 million that researchers will pay to make their research open."

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