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Open access journals and their role in disseminating research outcomes

Articles published in most open access journals are immediately and permanently free for anyone to read and download. Some even allow researchers to re-use material dependent on their Creative Commons license. For authors and researchers this translates into the increased visibility and impact of their work. Published research is now available to the masses, regardless of economic background; all that is required is a decent Internet connection. With more content reaching more readers of open access journals, over time this will lead to increased citation and even wider dissemination of research outcomes.

In October, the Wellcome Trust celebrated the 10th anniversary of its mandatory Open Access Policy. Since the start of this initiative, Wellcome has spent £31m on open access publishing, a figure that represents around 0.5% of its total research budget. Wellcome has always believed that the investment in open access publishing is worth paying as it maximizes the availablity and use of the research outcomes.

Last month also included the International Open Access week (Oct 19-25, 2015), which is a yearly global event focusing on open access and related topics, now in its 8th year. The theme for 2015 was “Open for Collaboration,” and highlighted the ways in which collaboration inspires and advances the open access movement, and promotes collaboration between researchers by ensuring the availability of research to everyone, anywhere, and at anytime.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is an online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. According to their latest figures published last month, Hindawi and BioMedCentral remain the largest open access publishers (by number of journals), with Springer, Medknow, and Elsevier also appearing in the top 10. DOAJ’s 2013 relaunch has increased visibility and transparency and has led to renewed interest from major publishers.

Open Access benefits all the stakeholders, from researchers, and their institutions, to practitioners, and society in general. Open access journals aim to facilitate the delivery of efficient and effective research, with rapid and widespread dissemination of research outcomes.

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