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Libraries open up free access to thousands of research journals

Members of the public have been given free access to more than 1.5 million academic articles at public libraries.

Prestigious publishers including Nature, Oxford University Press and Elsevier will make much of their content freely accessible for the first time via the Access to Research Initiative.

The two-year pilot began in January, and means anyone in the country can access journal articles on designated library computers without having to pay the publishers’ subscription fees.

The journal content covers a wide range of subject areas, including art, architecture, business, engineering, history, languages, politics, philosophy, mathematics and the sciences.

The initiative is aimed particularly at students, independent researchers and small businesses.

They will be able to search for information among the articles through software platform Summon’s “intelligent” search interface, which lets users enter a combination of author names, article title or subject keywords.

There are currently 8,400 journals included in the service, with more expected to join over the two-year period.

The project is a result of collaborations between publishers, represented by the Publishers Association, and librarians, represented by the Society of Chief Librarians.

It follows recommendations made by the Finch Group, a Government commissioned working group tasked with publicly-funded research can be made more accessible.

Participating publishers include:

Bloomsbury Publishing
Cambridge University Press
Dove Press
IOP Publishing
Kluwer (Wolters Kluwer Health)
Nature Publishing Group
Oxford University Press
Portland Press
SAGE Publications
Science Reviews 2000 Ltd
Taylor & Francis