Science journals permit open-access publishing for Gates Foundation scholars – Nature.com
If research funders demand open-access publishing, will subscription journals acquiesce? An announcement todayÂ by the publisher ofÂ Science suggests they will â€” as long as that funder is as influential as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The global health charity, based in Seattle, Washington, has partnered with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in a year-long agreement to â€œexpand access to high-quality scientific publishingâ€. This means that Gates-funded research can be published on open-access (OA) terms inÂ ScienceÂ andÂ four other AAAS journals.
â€œThis is the first time AAAS is offering open-access publishing for Science and the subscription-based sister journals,â€ says Meagan Phelan, a spokesperson for AAAS in Washington DC.
However, the AAAS-Gates agreement is provisional, says Dick Wilder, associate general counsel with the Gates Foundationâ€™s Global Health Program, and will be reviewed later this year to see if it continues for 2018. â€œWe hope and they hope that this is something that will continue indefinitely,â€ he adds.
Scholars were previously not allowed to publish Gates-funded research in some AAAS journals because they didnâ€™t accommodate Gatesâ€™ strict OA policy. The same OA clash exists at other influential subscription journals, including Nature. (Natureâ€™sÂ news team is editorially independent of the journalÂ Nature). Gates’ policy stipulates that researchers must make their resulting papers and data open immediately upon publication, and under a licence that allows unrestricted re-use for commercial purposes.
Open-access advocates applauded the move. â€œGood forÂ ScienceÂ for agreeing to accommodate the Gates policy, and good for Gates in refusing to accommodate the previous terms and conditions ofÂ Science,” says Peter Suber, director of the Harvard Open Access Project and the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
A temporary arrangement
The Gates Foundation usually pays journalsâ€™ publishing fees for individual studies in order to assure OA content. But as part of this new agreement, the Foundation will pay AAAS a lump sum of $100,000 for the year, says Wilder.
The Foundation estimates that it will publish between 10 to 15 studies in AAAS journals this year, and says that it will work with AAAS to develop a report looking at the sustainability of OA publishing in journals such asÂ Science, which make money largely from library subscriptions.
Suber says that the agreement may reassure other funders that they can try to adopt strong OA policies without locking their grantees out of major journals. â€œThe Gates Foundation is showing that other foundations should not worry about journal embargo and licensing terms in the first place, or if they do worry, they should act even without waiting for the worry to lift,â€ he says.
The Wellcome Trust in London, UK, is one funder that has pushed for open-access policies. But if the publisher does not offer OA, the organization allows a six-month embargo period before papers must be made open to the public.
â€œWe welcome AAASâ€™s efforts to ensure Gates granteesâ€™ publications are openly available, and look forward to exploring similar opportunities for Wellcome funded research,â€ says Robert Kiley, who leads the charityâ€™s open-access efforts.Â
The AAAS-Gates partnership is the only such arrangement AAAS is considering for now, says Phelan. But â€œAAAS will consider additional partnerships at the end of 2017â€.
ScienceÂ is not the only journal looking to accommodate Gatesâ€™ policy in some way, Wilder says. The Foundation is in ongoing discussions with the other journals, and more announcements may come soon, he adds.
Spokespeople for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the New England Journal of Medicine say their respective journals are still discussing the matter. Natureâ€™s news team is waiting on comment from other publishers that do not currently comply with Gatesâ€™ OA policy.
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