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Later this year, the Wellcome Trust will launch an online open access journal called eLife that will compete with the paid-for heavyweights.
According to Robert Kiley, who is in charge of open access for the trust, it could tip the balance in favour of those who believe in an open approach.
The majority of journals require subscriptions, often costing thousands of dollars per year
"The currency of researchers is really about making sure their work can be read and can be cited," he said.
"And clearly having it freely available for everyone to read enhances that.
"So I think what will happen is that those publishers who do not have an open access model will move into this road; they'll see which way the wind's blowing, and they'll provide options for researchers to publish under a fully open access model."