Show me the data!

[UPDATE: 2015-01-07 It appears the full text of this article is now freely available from the publishers website. A moving wall system? This still doesn’t change the fact that this article was not publically available for 12 months. The maximum embargo allowed by MRC funding is just 6 months from publication.]


I note with interest that article publication charge data from the University of Edinburgh has been released on Figshare today.

There are some fascinating numbers in there and I applaud the transparency.

One particular article that took my eye is this one:
Paradoxical effects of heme arginate on survival of myocutaneous flaps


Page charges were paid for this article amounting to £1330.45, and that’s just for page charges – the journal did not make the article open access, nor was it asked to. This was for ‘page charges’ alone.

I also noted the research was paid for by the MRC – a top-class UK government-funded agency. As I am a full UK taxpayer, I feel especially entitled to read this research!

The MRC has a very clear policy on open access – the article must either:

1.) be made immediately open access by the publisher upon publication; ‘journal-mediated OA’ (sometimes called ‘gold’)


2.) via the route of ‘repository-mediated access’ some kind of copy of the work must be made publicly accessible no more than 6 months after publication (sometimes called ‘green’)

Since the article clearly wasn’t open access at the publisher, I assume the authors have elected to choose the repository-access method. The article was formally published on 1st January 2014, so between then and now, clearly at least 6 months have elapsed. 7 months and 20 days to be precise. So where is the full text of this article?

It’s not in PubMed (abstract-only)
Nor EuropePubMed (abstract-only)
Nor the University of Edinburgh institutional repository (abstract-only)

So it would appear to me that the rules of the funding body (MRC) may have been broken here (sincere apologies if I am wrong about this), something all too easy to do if the repository route is chosen.

Wouldn’t it have been better to spend those page charges on making the paper immediately open access?

In the mean time, I have sent the University of Edinburgh open access team ( an email to ask where the full text for this paper is, and I await their reply.