Last week, the world’s research-funding agencies signalled a welcome desire for wider access to published papers. The Global Research Council, a voluntary discussion forum that takes input from hundreds of funding agencies in regional meetings around the globe, released an action plan for promoting open access — although specific policies are left up to individual agencies (
Scientists need this top-down push. Individually, they have proved reluctant to make their papers freely available, despite the determined efforts of open-access campaigners. For example, although the Wellcome Trust in London, one of the world’s biggest biomedical research charities, has since 2005 provided an open-access mandate and the money to support it, by last June only 55% of the research papers that it funded were open access. Most of those had been uploaded into repositories by publishers, rather than by researchers.