An alliance of leading UK medical research charities is launching a new fund to help make publicly-funded research freely available as soon as it is published, it has been announced today (Wednesday).
Arthritis Research UK, Breast Cancer Campaign, the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Cancer Research UK, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, and the Wellcome Trust have joined together to create the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF).
Many journals require a subscription for users to be able to see their research articles, which can lead to publicly-funded research being hidden behind a pay-wall. But many publishers will make the research immediately free to access and re-use if a fee – called the ‘article processing charge’ – is paid.
This ‘open access’ model allows knowledge to be shared faster and promotes innovation, accelerating progress that can lead to patients accessing better treatments sooner.
The COAF is a two-year pilot and will collect around £12million into a single pot of money, available to researchers funded by any of the charities*. Researchers can apply through their universities to access the fund from 1st October this year, which will pay the article processing charge to make their work freely available as soon as it is published.
Commenting on the announcement of this initiative, Greg Clark, Minister of Universities, Science and Cities, said: “Opening up access to the latest medical research will bring real benefits to researchers, patients and society. The Government is committed to ensure the widest possible access to research to develop new treatments quicker and today’s announcements by the UK’s leading medical charities will help to achieve this.”
The six partners are members of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), which played a key role in the establishment of the partnership. AMRC Chair, Lord Willis of Knaresborough, said: "The Charity Open Access Fund is a fantastic example of medical charities working together to ensure their research has maximum impact. We are confident that this pilot is the first step on a journey to a system where research findings are more freely available. We hope the COAF will lead to even more exciting breakthroughs in the understanding, treatment and diagnosis of disease."
Dr Matt Kaiser, Head of Research at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: “We want our investments in cutting-edge blood cancer research to work as hard for patients as possible. Open access allows research to be more widely read by scientists, doctors and policy makers, and we have a duty to our supporters who fund the work to make the end results freely available. By breaking down barriers to the access and use of our and others’ research results, we will as a broad community be better equipped to inspire new treatments and better care for these serious diseases.”