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UK biologist groups back well-funded open-access publishing

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A group representing UK biologists has come out in favour of open-access publishing as a way to get increasing access to science research articles, provided that it is adequately funded and that policies are flexible.

This is the main thrust of a new position statement from the Biosciences Federation, an organisation of nearly 50 UK learned societies and other bodies in biosciences. The organisation said in the statement that open-access publishing would reduce what it sees as the risks of self-archiving, which, it says, could otherwise damage the viability of journals and thus threaten the other contributions which learned societies make to UK science.

However, this backing of open-access publishing comes with some provisos. Firstly, research funders should make sufficient money available so that activities like conferences, educational events, bursaries and research funding, which are made possible by journals income, are not threatened. In addition, the organisation asks that policies are both flexible – to reflect the differences between journals – and well understood by researchers.

In order to inform the debate on the level of funding required, the Federation has commissioned research from Morris Associates. The study will establish the scale to which publishing income supports member Society activities, as well as exploring learned societies' current and future response to open-access initiatives, and their members' attitudes and behaviour in relation to open access. The results of the research studies will be published early in 2008.