Original scientific research published for the first time in peer-reviewed journals is an important primary output from research, and an integral part of how science works. The function of journal publications – to communicate this information, build a collective knowledge base, validate the quality of research, influence the distribution of rewards and build scientific communities – has remained unchanged for hundreds of years despite innovations in publishing and new models for accessing this information.
The citation of publications in further peer-reviewed research articles is often used as a proxy measure of academic and wider user impact. The citation impact of MRC publications, as measured by the Thompson Reuters ‘normalised citation impact’ score1, is more than twice the world average.
In 2007 a consortium of leading European research funders, including the MRC, set up Europe PMC, a free online digital archive of full-text, peer-reviewed biomedical and life sciences publications. It is based on PubMed Central (PMC), developed at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in the USA and is part of a network of PMC International (PMCI) repositories that also includes PMC Canada.
Free and open access to publicly-funded research offers significant social, academic and economic benefits. The Government, in line with its overarching transparency pledge, is committed to ensuring that open access to journal publications is customary. The MRC requires all papers generated as a result of MRC funding to be made publicly available by one of two routes. The preferred route, Gold open access, requires the journal to provide immediate and unrestricted online access to the published paper. Where a researcher publishes in a journal not offering Gold open access, they must ensure that their manuscript is deposited into PubMed Central (PMC) or Europe PMC, and made freely available as soon as possible, and in any event within six months of the journal publisher’s official date of final publication, in a process known as Green open access.
1Normalised by scientific field and year of publication.