Medical charities launch £12m fund to ensure free public access to research

The Charity Open Access Fund, launched by six organisations including the Wellcome Trust, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK, will provide funds to universities and research institutes to cover the costs of journals

Medical research
Medical research

A group of major medical research charities has launched a £12m fund to ensure research they sponsor can be made available to all for free.

The Charity Open Access Fund is being launched by Arthritis Research UK, Breast Cancer Campaign, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and the Wellcome Trust. The last of these will administer the fund, which is being launched for an initial two-year trial period.

The Wellcome Trust said that many journals required users to pay to see articles, meaning that research funded by public donations was often hidden behind a paywall.

From 1 October, researchers from 36 approved universities and research institutes can apply for COAF money to cover the costs charged by journals, which means that research will be freely available as soon as it is published.

The six funders are all members of the Association of Medical Research Charities; they hope that more fellow members will join COAF in the future.

Lord Willis of Knaresborough, chair of the AMRC, 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."

Robert Kiley, head of digital services at the Wellcome Trust, said: "We are delighted that other charities are making funds available to ensure that the outputs of their research funding are made freely available and fully reusable at the time of publication. This approach helps to ensure that this knowledge can be built upon and used in a manner that maximises health and public benefit."

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