The following article (preprint) was recently posted to the bioRxiv repository.
Introduction: Journal publishers increasingly offer governmental and charitable research funders the option to pay for open access with a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence, which allows sharing and adaptation of published materials for commercial as well as non-commercial use. The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association recommends this licence as the least restrictive Creative Commons licence available. We set out to investigate whether pharmaceutical companies are offered the same options.
Methods: Using Journal Selector (Sylogent, Newtown, PA, USA), we identified journals with a 2015 impact factor of at least 15 on 24 May 2017, and excluded journals that only publish review articles from the analysis. Between 29 June 2017 and 26 July 2017, we collected information about the journals’ open access policies from their websites and/or by email contact. We contacted the journals by email again between 6 December 2017 and 2 January 2018 to confirm our findings.
Results: Thirty-seven non-review journals listed in the Journal Selector database, from 14 publishers, had a 2015 impact factor of at least 15. All 37 journals offered some form of access with varying embargo periods of up to 12 months. Of these journals, 23 (62%) offered immediate open access with a CC BY licence under certain circumstances (e.g. to specific research funders). Of these 23, only one journal confirmed that it offered a CC BY licence to commercial funders/pharmaceutical companies.
Conclusion: The open access policies of most medical journals with high impact factors restrict the dissemination of medical research funded by the pharmaceutical industry. To give the scientific community freedom to read, reuse and adapt medical publications, publishers and academic journal editors would ideally allow pharmaceutical companies to fund unrestricted and immediate open access with a CC BY licence.
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