Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"Publication costs are just another research cost"

Robert Kiley, Wellcome Trust -- Medical Journals Backfiles Digitisation Project & open access

Project funded by JISC, Wellcome. Supported by several major publishers, and digitisation being carried out by National Library of Medicine. Focus is on providing key teaching resources in history of medicine. Product is available to anyone with a browser but is chiefly targeted at clinical community. Content goes into PubMedCentral, where it is readily discoverable via e.g. PubMed, Medline, Google.

Digitisation is expensive; chose journals based on historical importance, impact factor and comparison to existing titles in collection. Coverage from e.g. 1809 (Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine); 1857 (BMJ); 1866 (Journal of Phsyiology) and including seminal papers. Participating publishers have to agree to backfile digitisation but also to deposit ongoing content in PMC (an embargo is allowed).

References are extracted and matched to PubMed. Underlying data is integrated with the text -- programmatic text mining enables linkage to e.g. chemical compounds in PubChem.

Wellcome Trust now mandates that research it funds must be deposited in PubMedCentral, and it will provide additional funding to cover author-pays publishing fees. Having all content in one place enables more analysis of funding usage.

Currently aiming to create a UK version of PMC which will provide a mirror service and a local manuscript submission system; working with SHERPA to create a database of Wellcome-compliant publisher-archiving policies -- so authors can easily find out whether the journal they want to publish in is compliant with Wellcome's funding regulations.

Publication costs should be recognised as "just another research cost". RK expects that a combination of OA publishing and OA repositories will change the way biomedical research is disseminated, and that improved access to research papers will lead to additional medical discoveries.

Q: Rick Anderson, U. Nevada Reno. I'm concerned that you think publication costs should be considered part of research costs; doesn't that mean less money for actual research?
A: Yes, our figures suggest between 1-2% maximum, which we think is worth it for the improved access to the literature [that author pays OA publishing offers].

Q: Anthony Watkinson. You don't describe how you're going to give the money for payment. Will you hand it to institutions and let them decide whether to give it to researchers?
A: Yes. We have a list of UK universities at which our researchers are based, and we have given them a block of money which they can use to e.g. take out a subscription to PLOS. We don't want to subsidise every single research grant in those institutions, but we do enable the money to be administered by the university (rather than the individual researchers).
Q: who are then at the mercy of their institutional administrators?
A: the grants are not capped; if it can be demonstrated that the money is being spent on funding publication of Wellcome Trust papers, we will top it up when it expires.

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