From the course readings for this topic, Peter Suber’s initial article begins by drawing on a number of sources for a definition of Open Access. These include:
- The Budapest Open Access Initiative
- There are many degrees and kinds of wider and easier access to this literature. By ‘open access’ to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.
- The Public Library of Science
- free availability and unrestricted use
- and others
Peter is a very influential character in the Open Access movement and has written extensively about the subject. There are numerous links to several of his other writings from within the text.
Peter highlights the importance of three declarations to the Open Access movements:
- Budapest Open Access Initiative http://www.soros.org/openaccess/read
- 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/lang/en-uk/berlin-prozess/berliner-erklarung/
I think that the primary point that Peter is making in his article is that Open Access is comparable to conventional scholarly publishing, with regard to the rigour of the peer-review process, academic career advancement, etc. it’s just that with Open Access there is no financial barrier to readers accessing the content; and that copyright holders have given their consent with prior licensing arrangement (be that via Creative Commons, or similar). It must be remembered that free doesn’t mean free to produce, but free to the reader. However, production costs are much less that conventional publishing. Open Access isn’t an attempt to put existing publishers out of business, but instead it’s intent on making content freely available to readers.
Because the publishing of academic articles are royalty-free for the author (they receive no payment from the work but develop greater prestige and career advancement), then to some extent this is the initial place where Open Access can make a significant difference. This is increasingly the case as we begin to see other pressures becoming important, particularly the requirements by funding bodies that research findings are made open and freely available.
Peter goes on to highlight the distinction in Open Access publishing of research articles. The best know distinction is Gold (Open Access Journals) and Green (Open Access Repositories), with the former always conducting peer-reviews and the latter not but may be hosting articles peer-reviewed elsewhere.
Funders and universities are upstream from publishers and can adopt policies to ensure green OA and the permissions to make it lawful. Because most publishers already permit green OA, and because green OA is a bona fide form of OA, authors who fail to take advantage of the opportunity are actually a greater obstacle to OA than publishers who fail to offer the opportunity. Funders and universities are in a position to close the gap and ensure green OA for 100% of published work by their grantees and faculty. Because authors cannot close this gap on their own, funders and universities who fail to close the gap have no one else to blame if fast-rising journal prices enlarge the fast-growing fraction of new research inaccessible to those who need it. All publishers could help the process along and some are actually doing so. But there’s no need to depend on publishers when we could depend on ourselves.
Open Access Overview by Peter Suber, http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm (Accessed 8 Feb 2012)
The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, SPARC provides much useful advice and resources on the Open Access section of their website. The material here could prove very useful in my own efforts to move the institution I work for to implementing an Open Access policy.
The next reading on the list is the UNESCO Global Open Access Portal (a knowledge portal) which is at a much more strategic level, providing an overview of the current global state of play with Open Access. Its content is aimed more at policy-makers. The Portal allows individual countries to see what level they are actively engaged at with regards Open Access. From a UK perspective, the situations is quite encouraging. Perhaps the initial main area for further work to be done in the UK is to increase awareness amongst academic researchers about Open Access and their role.
Heather Morrison Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in her blogpost ‘Happy 2012 Open Access Movement! December 31, 2011 Dramatic Growth of Open Access’ provides a summary of the growth of Open Access over 2011.
It’s possible to find out more about the progress of, and about, the Open Access movement and to get involved via the annual Open Access Week, ‘a global event now entering its fourth year, is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.’
(http://www.openaccessweek.org/profiles/blogs/welcome-to-open-access-week, Accessed 8 Feb 2012)
Perhaps the final element in the jigsaw puzzle is finding and accessing the Open Access journal content you require for your individual academic, scholarly, research or learning activities. That’s where directories come in, allowing browsing and searches to be carried out. These include:
And OpenDOAR, an authoritative directory of academic open access repositories.