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All European Union-funded papers to be free, starting 2014

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Within 12 months of publication, that is.

Yesterday, we noted that BioMed Central was going open media, welcome news to researchers on a strict budget and to anyone who wants to be quite sure of how data was derived.

Nature has this to say about the trend:

Search the Internet for any research article published in 2011, and you have a 50–50 chance of downloading it for free. This claim — made in a report1 produced for the European Commission — suggests that many more research papers are openly available online than was previously thought. The finding, released on 21 August, is heartening news for advocates of open access. But some experts are raising their eyebrows at the high numbers.

Chronicling a steady rise in the number of government-funded research papers placed in the public domain, Nature’s Richard Van Noorden notes,

The proportion of free online papers is likely to increase in the next few years. The European Commission says that, from 2014, the results of all research funded by the European Union must be open access. And in February, the US White House announced that government-funded research should be made free to read within 12 months of publication (see Nature 494, 414–415; 2013). Federal agencies are due to submit their plans for achieving this to the US Office of Science and Technology Policy by 22 August.

We’ve covered a number of peer review controversies over the years; many problems arise simply from lack of transparency rather than from any intent to deceive. That is especially true in biomedical and social sciences research.

Let’s hope this trend results in more transparency, and not in an unwillingness to fund papers that might reflect badly on previous papers—but would be free for all to read.

Poor Nick, It will be harder and harder to literature bluff and not get caught. Mung

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