What is Open Access?

Continuing our run-up to Open Access week, another contribution from Pat Thibodeau:

Open access (OA) in its purest sense is making literature free online without any fees or restrictions due to copyright or licenses.

The Budapest Open Access Initiative [http://www.soros.org/openaccess/read.shtml ] was the first to define open access as being publicly free on the Internet, allowing users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of articles without legal, financial or technical barriers.  Since their statement, others have followed and Peter Suber, one of the true experts on OA, provides an excellent overview and timeline on his Web site:  http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm

Some other important statements are:

Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing  http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/bethesda.htm

Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities http://oa.mpg.de/berlin-prozess/berliner-erklarung/

While the OA movement initially focused on journal literature, it is now being applied across the realm of scholarly communication including books, learning objects, repositories of various documents, and data sets.   In all its permutations, its goal is to ensure free access to information to support academic, research and personal pursuits of knowledge and promote innovation and discovery on a global as well as local level.

The OA movement has had an impact on the journal literature.  There are now over 5,300 titles in the Directory of Open Access Journals  [http://www.doaj.org/] and a 2009  PL0S One article by Bjork et al. [http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0011273] reports that now 20% of peer-reviewed articles are freely available across all disciplines.   This is a major shift since the Budapest statement challenged traditional scholarly communications in 2002.

While Peter Suber’s OA chronology [http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/timeline.htm]  identifies very early free-access models,  the OA  movement has clearly gained momentum since the Budapest initiative issued its statement in 2002.

For more information, see the Open Access at Duke web site.Open Access logo, designed by PLoS

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