Several British funding organizations say they are seeking proposals from groups interested in running a new free-access archive of papers arising from research they have supported.
The idea is to establish a UK version of PubMed Central, which is a service run by the US National Institutes of Health. The new site would include material from the United States as well, and would create a searchable facility containing all papers from both versions. UK PubMed Central would also have links to online resources, such as databases for genes and chemical compounds.
The venture is being developed by the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the British Heart Foundation, and the Arthritis Research Campaign, with support from the Joint Information Systems Committee. A briefing document outlining the requirements for interested parties is available on the Wellcome Trust's Web site.
Tony Peatfield, head of policy at the MRC, says that while the MRC was supportive of the project, the cost may be of concern. The deadline for organizations interested in running the site is June 10.
In February, the NIH unveiled its final policy on publication of sponsored research results on PubMed Central, drawing criticism from both supporters and critics of open access.
The new policy became effective May 2 and "requests" that scientists voluntarily deposit electronic copies of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts with PubMed Central as soon as possible after acceptance for publication. Authors can specify when their manuscripts would be publicly released, anywhere from immediately to 12 months after publication. The policy also placed the burden on scientists to resolve any copyright disputes with journal publishers.