There are many drivers behind the open access movement: to accelerate the pace of scientific research, discovery and innovation; increase the visibility, readership and impact of authors’ works, as well as to enhance interdisciplinary research, to name but a few. All factors point to one ultimate goal, the advancement of knowledge, which both researchers and publishers know, can only be reached by sharing results and making them as accessible as possible.
Back in January, the global health authority, the World Health Organisation (WHO), announced the launch of a new open access policy to ensure the widespread dissemination of scientific research. The policy, which applies to all WHO-authored or WHO-funded research published in external journals and books, kicked into action on 1st July 2014.
From this date forth, articles authored or co-authored by WHO staff or WHO funding recipients will have to be published in an open-access journal or a hybrid open-access journal (a subscription journal with some open access articles). The research must be published under the terms of the standard Creative Commons licence or in a subscription journal that allows for the depositing of the article inEurope PubMed Central (Europe PMC) within 12 months of the official publication date.
WHO will become the 26th funding member of the open access repository Europe PMC; the most widely used biomedical bibliographic database service. It provides free access to nearly 3 million full-text biomedical research articles, over 23m abstracts from PubMed and 4m biological and patent records. It is the same barrier-free and peer reviewed repository that BioMed Central publishes with, to ensure all its articles are immediately made freely available.
WHO will be joining 25 other life sciences and biomedical research funders at a time when providing free access to research outputs continues to be championed at the highest levels.
“WHO is delighted to join Europe PubMed Central,” says Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, Assistant Director-General of the WHO Health Systems and Innovation cluster. “WHO’s open access policy is central to our commitment to universal access to information. Europe PMC will provide the platform for researchers to freely access and reuse WHO-authored and WHO-funded research, for the benefit of global health.”
Previously, WHO-funded research was accessible only through the payment of subscriptions or other fees. Adding to the growing body of open access content marks the steady growth in the open access commitment of research funders.
We welcome WHO’s commitment to open access because it should enable more people to access and act upon relevant health information. This in turn should provide the opportunity for timely interventions and developments that build on this available information.