European research funders throw weight behind UK open access repository

Four European research funders have today added their support to the open access repository UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) by agreeing that the life sciences research outputs made possible with their funding are made freely available through this repository.

Launched in January 2007, UKPMC is a free-to-access digital archive of full-text, peer-reviewed biomedical and life sciences research. As of February 2010, it holds over 1.7 million full text articles. The ambition of the repository is to become the information resource of choice for the UK biomedical and health research communities and eventually to expand to become 'Europe PubMed Central'.

Today, this aim takes a step closer as four European research-funding organisations - the Health Research Board Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland, Telethon Italy and the Austrian Science Fund - have agreed to participate in UKPMC. The funders will mandate that all biomedical research outputs that arise from their funding are made freely available - typically within six months of publication - from the UKPMC repository.

The development has been welcomed by Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, one of the principal funders of UKPMC:

"Free access to peer-reviewed research is essential for facilitating progress in biomedicine. I am delighted that these European funders have thrown their support behind UKPMC, and hope that other European research funders will follow their example. This should enable us to build on the success of the repository and expand to a Europe-wide service."

The four European funders will take part in 'Phase I' of UKPMC, and as such will be provided with a fully-managed repository service, along with a manuscript submission system to allow their researchers to archive their papers in the UKPMC repository. Access to the Grant Reporting System is also enabled, allowing researchers to report on the outputs of their grants.

Lucia Monaco, Chief Scientific Officer, Telethon Italy, commented that "as a charity funded by patients, we are excited about the opportunity to make the primary outputs of our research freely available to scientists, patients, donors and the general public through UKPMC. The world-wide visibility offered by UKPMC through its connection to PMC and the European prospect it offers have made it the repository of choice for Telethon-supported publications"

Funders will also benefit from the developments being made to the UKPMC service. Key developments include providing the functionality - through text and data mining technologies - to integrate research articles with a range of other online sources, such as gene, protein and chemical compound databases, and to integrate a range of bibliographic databases - including Medline, Patents and Agricola - into a single, seamless discovery tool.

Phase I funding is based on a simple 'pay-as-you-go' model in which a small fee is charged for each author manuscript that is deposited in the UKPMC repository (to cover the cost of converting a manuscript to XML). All ongoing infrastructure costs will continue to be met by the existing UKPMC funders.

It is anticipated that Phase I will run until Summer 2011, to be followed by Phase II, a fully fledged Europe PubMed Central with a range of additional, value-added services.

Notes for editors

About UK PubMed Central

UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) is a free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. Based on PubMed Central, the US National Institutes of Health free digital archive, UKPMC provides a stable and permanent online archive of full-text peer reviewed research publications. UKPMC is funded by the Arthritis Research Campaign, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Chief Scientist Office, Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research and the Wellcome Trust. The UKPMC project is managed by the British Library on behalf of the UKPMC Funders Group.

About the Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charity dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. Its breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.