The estimated value of the entire scientific, technical and medical journals market is thought to be around $US5 billion, so the establishment of a £20,000 at Nottingham University to help researchers pay open access publishing fees is small potatoes.
On the other hand, this is the first formal institutional move that I am aware of to recognize the seismic shift in scientific publishing which occurred last year when the major research funders have adopted policies which require publication in an open access journal.
As the PLoS blog points out, many funding agencies have agreed that open access publication fees can be included within the research grant itself, but publications might arise after the grant has terminated, and not all researchers have sufficient funds for publication. Will researchers at less prosperous and smaller institutions than Nottingham be disadvantaged climbing the publication greasy pole?
Open access publishing is a positive move, as long as we don't wind up in a position where funding is a criterion for publication which ranks alongside academic merit - or are we there already?