Template:Otheruses Template:Merge Open access (OA) is free, immediate, permanent, full-text, online access, for any user, web-wide, to digital scientific and scholarly material,[1] primarily research articles published in peer-reviewed journals. OA means that any individual user, anywhere, who has access to the Internet, may link, read, download, store, print-off, use, and data-mine the digital content of that article. An OA article usually has limited copyright and licensing restrictions.

The first major international statement on open access[2] was the Budapest Open Access Initiative in February 2002[3]. This provided a definition of open access, and has a growing list of signatories[4]. Two further statements followed: the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing[5] in June 2003 and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities in October 2003.

OA has since become the subject of much discussion amongst researchers, academics, librarians, university administrators, funding agencies, government officials, commercial publishers, and society publishers. Although there is substantial (though not universal) agreement on the concept of OA itself, there is considerable debate and discussion about the economics of funding peer review in open access publishing, and the reliability and economic effects of self-archiving.

There are two main currents in the open access movement:

  1. In OA self-archiving (also known as the "green" road to OA [6] [7]), authors publish in a subscription journal, but in addition make their articles freely accessible online, usually by depositing them in either an institutional repository[8] (such as the Okayama University Digital Information Repository[9]) or in a central repository[10] (such as PubMed Central). The deposit can be in the form of a peer-reviewed postprint or a non-peer-reviewed preprint. OA self-archiving was first formally proposed in 1994[11] [12] by Stevan Harnad. However, self-archiving was already being done by computer scientists in their local FTP archives in the '80s[13], later harvested into Citeseer. High-energy physicists have been self-archiving centrally in arXiv since 1991.
  2. In OA publishing (also known as the "gold" road to OA [14]) authors publish in open access journals that make their articles freely accessible online immediately upon publication. Examples of OA publishers[15] are BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science.

There are about 20-25,000 peer-reviewed journals in all[16] across all disciplines, countries and languages. About 10 - 15% of them are OA journals, as indexed by the Directory of Open Access Journals (gold OA). Of the more than 10,000 peer-reviewed non-OA journals indexed in the Romeo directory of publisher policies[17] (which includes most of the journals indexed by Thomson/ISI[18]), over 90% endorse some form of author self-archiving (green OA): 62% endorse self-archiving the author's final peer-reviewed draft or "postprint," 29% the pre-refereeing "preprint."[19]

Authors and researchersEdit

The main reason authors make their articles openly accessible is to maximize their research impact. A study in 2001 first reported an Open Access citation impact advantage[20], and a growing number of studies [21] have confirmed, with varying degrees of methodological rigor, that an open access article is more likely to be used and cited than one behind subscription barriers.[22] For example, a 2006 study in PLoS Biology found that articles published as immediate open access in the PNAS were three times more likely to be cited than non-open access papers, and were also cited more than PNAS articles that were only self-archived[23].

Scholars are paid by research funders and/or their universities to do research; the published article is the report of the work they have done, rather than an item for commercial gain. The more the article is used, cited, applied and built upon, the better for research as well as for the researcher's career. [24] [25]

Authors who wish to make their work openly accessible have two options. One is to publish in an open access journal. An open access journal may or may not charge a processing fee; open access publishing does not necessarily mean that the author has to pay. Traditionally, many academic journals levied page charges, long before open access became a possibility. When OA journals do charge processing fees, it is the author's employer or research funder who typically pays the fee, not the individual author, and many journals will waive the fee in cases of financial hardship, or for authors in less-developed countries.

The other option is author self-archiving. To find out if a publisher or journal has given its green light to author self-archiving, the author can check the Publisher Copyright Policies and Self-Archiving list[26] on the SHERPA RoMEO web site. To find out by journal, the author can check the EPrints Romeo site[27], which is built on an interpretation of the SHERPA/RoMEO dataset. There is a self-archiving FAQ.[28] A wiki designed to help faculty understand and start doing self-archiving has also been set up by Ari Friedman.[29] Extensive details and links can also be found in the Open Access Archivangelism blog[30] and the Eprints Open Access site.[31]

The idea of open content is related to open access. However, open content is usually defined to include the general permission to modify a given work. Open access refers only to free and unrestricted availability without any further implications. In scientific publishing it is usual to keep an article's content static and to associate it with a fixed author.

While open access is currently focused on scholarly research articles, any content creator who wishes to can share work openly, and decide how to make their content available. Creative Commons provides a number of licenses with which authors may easily indicate which uses are allowed.

Users Edit

For the most part, the direct users of research articles are other researchers. Open access helps researchers as readers by opening up access to articles that their libraries do not subscribe to. One of the great beneficiaries of open access may be users in developing countries, where there are currently some universities with no journal subscriptions at all Template:Fact - although schemes exist for providing subscription-only scientific publications to those affiliated to institutions in developing countries at little or no cost.[32]. All researchers benefit from OA as no library can afford to subscribe to every scientific journal and most can only afford a small fraction of them, this is known as the serials crisis".[33]

Open access extends the reach of research beyond its immediate academic circle. An OA article can be read by anyone - a professional in the field, a researcher in another field, a journalist, a politician or civil servant, or an interested hobbyist. Indeed, a 2008 study revealed that mental health professionals are roughly twice as likely to read a relevant article if it is freely available.[34]

For anyone interested in exploring the world of scholarly research, a good place to start is the Directory of Open Access Journals, although the DOAJ is incomplete, due to the processing time for verifying journal quality and open access policies. Here, you can browse a number of peer-reviewed, fully open access scientific journals, or search for articles in many of the journals. Open J-Gate [35] is another index of articles published in English language OA journals, which launched in 2006. Out of 4,300 + journals indexed by Open J-Gate, more than half, over 2,000 are peer-reviewed. Open access articles can also often be found with a web search, using any general search engine or those specialized for the scholarly/scientific literature, such as OAIster,[36] citebase,[37] citeseer,[38] scirus,[39],,[1] and Google Scholar.[40] Results may include preprints that have not yet been peer reviewed, or gray literature that will remain unreviewed.

Research funders and universities Edit

Research funding agencies and universities want to ensure that the research they fund and support in various ways has the greatest possible research impact.

Research funders are beginning to expect open access to the research they support. Seventeen of them (including 5 of the 7 UK Research Councils[41] ) have already adopted Green OA self-archiving mandates, and four more (including two in the US) have proposed to adopt mandates[42].

Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council,[43] which made a commitment to open access in October 2004 has not yet adopted or proposed a mandate but the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) proposed a mandate in 2006 and adopted it in September 2007[44], the first North American public research funder to do so.

The new U.S. National Institutes of Health's Public Access Policy will take effect in April 2008 and states that "all articles arising from NIH funds must be submitted to PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication"[45] It stipulates self-archiving in PubMed Central rather than in the author's own institutional repository, which some consider a strength and others a weakness.

The Wellcome Trust's Position Statement in Support of Open and Unrestricted Access to Published Research from 2006 requires that "outputs from all Wellcome Trust-funded grants must be made freely available via PubMed Central (PMC) - or UK PubMed Central once established - as soon as possible, and in any event no later than six months after publication".[46] It "will provide grantholders with additional funding, through their institutions, to cover open access charges, where appropriate, in order to meet the Trust's requirements.[47]

In March, 2006, The Howard Hughes Foundation announced its agreement with the publisher Elsevier, to pay a negotiated rate for 6-month embargoed access to all articles from scientists supported from that foundation in all Elsevier titles, including Cell Press. [2].

A growing number of universities are providing institutional repositories in which their researchers can deposit their published articles. Eleven individual universities and 3 departments have already adapted self-archiving mandates and 2 further multi-university mandates (in Europe and Brazil) have been proposed. Eprints maintains a Registry of OA Repository Material Archiving Policies (ROARMAP).[48]

In May 2005, 16 major Dutch universities cooperatively launched DAREnet, the Digital Academic Repositories, making over 47,000 research papers available to anyone with internet access. The repository now holds in excess of 69,000 articles [3].

In April 2006, the European Commission "Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets in Europe" recommended:

  • EC Recommendation A1 : "Research funding agencies... should [e]stablish a European policy mandating published articles arising from EC-funded research to be available after a given time period in open access archives..."
    (This recommendation has since been updated and strengthened by the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB)) The signatures to a petition in its support are approaching 20,000 individuals and 1000 institutions.)

In May 2006, the US Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) was proposed toward improving the NIH Public Access Policy. Besides points about making open access mandatory, to which the NIH complied in 2008, it argues to extend self-archiving to the full spectrum of major US-funded research. In addition, the FRPAA would no longer stipulate that the self-archiving must be central: the deposit can now be in the author's own Institutional Repository (IR). To somewhat improve on the EC's (and FRPAA's) allowable embargo (of up to 6 months), EURAB has slightly updated the mandate: all articles must be deposited immediately upon acceptance: the allowable delay applies only to the time when access to the deposit must be made Open Access rather than to the time when it must be deposited. This is intended to permit individual users to use an eprint request "email eprint" button found on some archives to send a semi-automatic email message to the author requesting an individual eprint during the embargo period: This is not yet Open Access, but in the view of at least some advocates it provides for some needs during any embargo, and might help hasten the demise of embargoes altogether, while facilitating the adoption of self-archiving mandates by funders and universities.

Public and advocacy Edit

Open access to scholarly research is important to the public for a number of reasons. One of the arguments for public access to the scholarly literature is that most of it is paid for by taxpayers, who have a right to access the results of what they have funded. This is the reason for the creation of advocacy groups such as The Alliance for Taxpayer Access in the US.[49] For example, people might wish to read the scholarly literature when they or a family member have an illness. Many people also have serious hobbies; e.g. there are so many serious amateur astronomers in the world, that if a comet were on a collision course with the earth, it would probably be one of these amateurs who would find it and raise the alert.

Even those who do not read scholarly articles benefit indirectly from open access. For example, patients benefit when their doctor and other health care professionals have access to the latest research. As argued by open access advocates, open access speeds research progress, productivity, and knowledge translation [4]. Every researcher in the world can read an article, not just those whose library can afford to subscribe to the particular journal in which it appears. Faster discoveries benefit everyone. High school and junior college students can gain the information literacy skills critical for the knowledge age. Critics of the various open access initiatives point out that there is little evidence that a significant amount of scientific literature is currently unavailable to those who would benefit from it. While no library has subscriptions to every journal that might be of benefit, virtually all published research can be acquired via interlibrary loan.

Due to the benefits of open access, many governments are considering whether to mandate open access to publicly funded research. However, some organizations representing publishers, such as the DC Principles group in the United States, feel that such mandates are an unwarranted governmental intrusion in the publishing marketplace. Lobbying on both sides is fierce, both for pro-OA and contra-OA.

In developing nations, open access archiving and publishing acquires a unique importance. Scientists, health care professionals, and institutions in developing nations often do not have the capital necessary to access scholarly literature, although schemes exist to give them access for little or no cost. Among the most important is HINARI,[50] the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative, sponsored by the World Health Organization.

Many open access projects involve international collaboration. For example the Scientific Electronic Library Online (SCIELO),[51] is a comprehensive approach to full open access journal publishing, involving a number of Latin American countries. Bioline International, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping publishers in developing countries is a collaboration of people in the UK, Canada, and Brazil; the Bioline International Software is used around the world. Research Papers in Economics (RePEc), is a collaborative effort of over 100 volunteers in 45 countries. The Public Knowledge Project in Canada developed the open source publishing software Open Journal Systems (OJS), which is now in use around the world, for example by the African Journals Online[52] group, and one of the most active development groups is Portuguese.

Libraries and librarians Edit

Many librarians have been vocal and active advocates of open access. These librarians believe that open access promises to remove both the price barriers and the permission barriers that undermine library efforts to provide access to the journal literature.[53]. Many library associations have either signed major open access declarations, or created their own. For example, the Canadian Library Association endorsed a Resolution on Open Access in June 2005.[54] Librarians also educate faculty, administrators, and others about the benefits of open access. For example, the Association of College and Research Libraries of the American Library Association has developed a Scholarly Communications Toolkit.[55] The Association of Research Libraries has documented the need for increased access to scholarly information, and was a leading founder of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).[56]

At most universities, the library houses the institutional repository, which provides free access to scholarly work of the university's faculty. Some open access advocates believe that institutional repositories will play a very important role in responding to open access mandates from funders[57]. The Canadian Association of Research Libraries has a program[58] to develop institutional repositories at all Canadian university libraries.

An increasing number of libraries provide hosting services for open access journals. A recent survey by the Association of Research Libraries [59] found that 65% of surveyed libraries either are involved in journal publishing, or are planning to become involved in the very near future.


Main article: open access journal


Opposition to open access has largely been from commercial journal publishers, whose business model depends upon providing access to research only to those who will pay for journal subscriptions. The Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine (PRISM), a lobbying organization formed by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), is at the forefront of this opposition. [5] PRISM and AAP have lobbied against the increasing trend amongst funding organizations to require open publication, describing it as "government interference" and a threat to peer review. [6]

There are those who think that open access is unnecessary or even harmful. It can be argued that there is no need for those outside major academic institutions to have access to primary publications, at least in some fields. [60]

A third problem with open access is that the budgets for many academic institutions does not include funding for the "article processing charges" required to publish in open access journals. These can be quite high as is the case of the 1000£ charge required by Biomed Central [7] . With these high article processing charges there is a risk that open access may turn into a selective club for rich universities.

Early history of the open access movementEdit

The beginnings of the scholarly journal were a way of expanding access to scholarly findings. More recently, many individuals anticipated the open access concept even before the technology made it possible. One early proponent was the physicist Leó Szilárd. To help stem the flood of low-quality publications, he jokingly suggested in the 1940s that at the beginning of his career each scientist should be issued with 100 vouchers to pay for his papers. Closer to our own day, but still ahead of its time, was Common Knowledge. This was an attempt to share information for the good of all, the brainchild of Brower Murphy, formerly of The Library Corporation. Both Brower and Common Knowledge are recognised in the Library Microcomputer Hall of Fame.[61]

The modern open access movement springs from the potential unleashed by the electronic medium, and by the world wide web. It is now possible to publish a scholarly article and also make it instantly accessible anywhere in the world where there are computers and internet connections. The fixed cost of producing the article is separable from the minimal marginal cost of the online distribution.

These new possibilities emerged at a time when the traditional, print-based scholarly journals system was in a crisis. The number of journals and articles produced has been increasing at a steady rate; however the average cost per journal has been rising at a rate far above inflation for decades, and budgets at academic libraries have remained fairly static. The result was decreased access - ironically, just when technology has made almost unlimited access a very real possibility, for the first time. Libraries and librarians have played an important part in the open access movement, initially by alerting faculty and administrators to the serials crisis. The Association of Research Libraries developed the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), in 1997, an alliance of academic and research libraries and other organizations, to address the crisis and develop and promote alternatives, such as open access.

The first online-only, free-access journals (eventually to be called "open access journals") began appearing in the late 1980s. Among them was Bryn Mawr Classical Review[62], Postmodern Culture[63] and Psycoloquy[64].

The first free scientific online archive was, started in 1991, initially a preprint service for physicists, initiated by Paul Ginsparg. Self-archiving has become the norm in physics, with some sub-areas of physics, such as high-energy physics, having a 100% self-archiving rate. The prior existence of a "preprint culture" in high-energy physics is one major reason why arXiv has been successful.[65] arXiv now includes papers from related disciplines, such as computer science and mathematics, but computer scientists mostly self-archive on their own websites and have been doing so for even longer than physicists. (Citeseer is a computer science archive that harvests, Google-style, from distributed computer science websites and institutional repositories and contains almost twice as many papers as arxiv.) arXiv now includes postprints as well as preprints.[66] The two major physics publishers (American Physical Society and Institute of Physics Publishing have reported that arXiv has had no effect on journal subscriptions in physics; even though the articles are freely available, usually before publication, physicists value their journals and continue to support them. [67]) [68]

The inventors of the Internet and the Web -- computer scientists -- had been self-archiving on their own FTP sites and then their websites since even earlier than the physicists, as was revealed when Citeseer began harvesting their papers in the late 1990s. The 1994 "Subversive Proposal"[69] was to extend self-archiving to all other disciplines; from it arose CogPrints (1997) and eventually the OAI-compliant generic GNU software in 2000.[70]

In 1997, the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) made Medline, the most comprehensive index to medical literature on the planet, freely available in the form of PubMed. Usage of this database increased a hundredfold when it became free, strongly suggesting that prior limits on usage were impacted by lack of access. While indexes are not the main focus of the open access movement, free Medline is important in that it opened up a whole new form of use of scientific literature - by the public, not just professionals.

In 1998, the American Scientist Open Access Forum [71] was launched (and first called the "September98 Forum"). The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR)[72],one of the first Open Access journals in medicine, was created in 1998, publishing its first issue in 1999.

In 1999, Harold Varmus of the NIH proposed a journal called E-biomed, intended as an open access electronic publishing platform combining a preprint server with peer-reviewed articles. E-biomed later saw light in a revised form[73] as PubMed Central, a postprint archive.

It was also in 1999 that the Open Archives Initiative and its OAI-PMH protocol for metadata harvesting was launched in order to make online archives interoperable.

In 2000, BioMed Central, a for-profit open access publisher, was launched by the then Current Science Group (the founder of the Current Opinion series, and now known as the Science Navigation Group) [74]. In some ways, BioMed Central resembles Harold Varmus' original E-biomed proposal more closely than does PubMed Central [75]. BioMed Central now publishes over 170 journals [76].

In 2001, 34,000 scholars around the world signed "An Open Letter to Scientific Publishers",[77] calling for "the establishment of an online public library that would provide the full contents of the published record of research and scholarly discourse in medicine and the life sciences in a freely accessible, fully searchable, interlinked form". Scientists signing the letter also pledged not to publish in or peer-review for non-open access journals. This led to the establishment of the Public Library of Science, an advocacy organization. However, most scientists continued to publish and review for non-open access journals. PLoS decided to become an open access publisher aiming to compete at the high quality end of the scientific spectrum with commercial publishers and other open access journals, which were beginning to flourish [78]. Critics have argued that, equipped with a $10 million grant, PLoS competes with smaller OA journals for the best submissions and runs danger to destroy what it originally wanted to foster [79].

In 2002, the Open Society Institute launched the Budapest Open Access Initiative. In 2003, the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities was drafted and the World Summit on the Information Society included open access in its Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action.

The idea of mandating self-archiving was mooted at least as early as 1998.[80] Since 2003[81] efforts have been focused on open access mandating by the funders of research: governments,[82] research funding agencies,[83] and universities.[84] These efforts have been fought by the publishing industry[85]. However, many countries, funders, universities and other organizations have now either made commitments to open access, or are in the process of reviewing their policies and procedures, with a view to opening up access to results of the research they are responsible for.

For more on the history of open access, see Peter Suber's "Timeline of the Open Access Movement",[86]. One of the many librarians who have been leaders in the self-archiving approach to open access is Hélène Bosc; her work can be found in her "15-year retrospective".[87] Richard Poynder, a freelance journalist, contributes to a blog on open access, "Open and Shut?". He has written a series of interviews with a few of the leaders of the open access movement.

Bibliography of empirical studies on open access Edit

(See also the Bibliography of Findings on the Open Access Impact Advantage)



Further readingEdit

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

OA discussion lists & forumsEdit


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