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Published: Tuesday 31 August 2004

Access UK

The Science and Technology Committee of uk's House of Commons believes scientific publishing is presently "unsatisfactory" because it limits free access to results published in scientific literature. But it seems that's where the belief ends.

The Science and Development Network reports that the committee in a July 2004 report called Scientific Publications : Free for all? recommends "increased assessment of the viability of open access publishing in science" to increase access to academic journals by researchers in developing countries. Open access requires authors -- or their funders -- to pay the publication costs in scientific journals. It would mean that electronic versions of journals could be accessed free of charge via the Internet.

Another important recommendation is the establishment of 'institutional depositories' to house research papers electronically so that they can be accessed for free. The report didn't have any comment on research, access to which is restricted because of industrial security and official state security laws.

A publishing house told the panel that open access would present barriers to authors in poorer countries, as they would not be able to afford the fee. But the committee says publishers can form schemes by which authors from developing countries are paid for their submissions.

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