Market-obsessed scientific publishers are ignoring the interests of science and the public, the Wellcome Trust has said.
The trust published an independent analysis of the £22 billion research-publishing market. The trust's ultimate goal is for research results to be available free to all on the internet.
Trust director Mark Walport said: "We are funding research for the public good and expect results to be available throughout the world free of charge."
He said there was a place for subscription-based journals with some exclusive content, as long as they had a free web issue.
But Professor Walport said: "The journals want the work that is going to have the highest profile, so a lot of high-quality research is unlikely to be published."
Phillip Hurst, senior manager for publishing services at the Royal Society, warned of a lack of quality control on the internet.
He said the society was keen for research to be widely accessible, but noted that labour-intensive peer review and editing made publishing costly.