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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Open Access movement is a social movement in academia, dedicated to the principle of open access — to information-sharing for the common good.

The movement traces its history at least back to the 1960s, but became much more prominent in the 1990s with the advent of the Digital Age. With the spread of the Internet and the ability to copy and distribute electronic data at no cost, the arguments for open access gained new importance.

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


Two currents

There are two main currents in the open access movement:

  1. In OA self-archiving (also known as the "green" road to OA [1] [2]), authors publish in a subscription journal, but in addition make their articles freely accessible online, usually by depositing them in either an institutional repository[3] (such as the Okayama University Digital Information Repository[4]) or in a central repository[5] (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[6] [7] by Stevan Harnad. However, self-archiving was already being done by computer scientists in their local FTP archives in the '80s[8], 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 [1]) authors publish in open access journals that make their articles freely accessible online immediately upon publication. Examples of OA publishers[9] are BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science.


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.[10]

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[11], Postmodern Culture[12] and Psycoloquy[13].

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.[14] 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.[15] 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. [16]) [17]

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"[18] was to extend self-archiving to all other disciplines; from it arose CogPrints (1997) and eventually the OAI-compliant generic GNU software in 2000.[19]

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 [20] was launched (and first called the "September98 Forum"). The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR)[21],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[22] 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) [23]. In some ways, BioMed Central resembles Harold Varmus' original E-biomed proposal more closely than does PubMed Central [24]. BioMed Central now publishes over 170 journals [25].

In 2001, 34,000 scholars around the world signed "An Open Letter to Scientific Publishers",[26] 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 [27]. 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 [28].

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.

In 2006, a Federal Research Public Access Act was introduced in US Congress by senators John Cornyn and Joe Lieberman.[29][30] The act is awaiting reintroduction in the 110th Congress.

The idea of mandating self-archiving was mooted at least as early as 1998.[31] Since 2003[32] efforts have been focused on open access mandating by the funders of research: governments,[33] research funding agencies,[34] and universities.[35] These efforts have been fought by the publishing industry[36]. 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.

In 2007, MIT OpenCourseWare, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to put all of the educational materials from their undergraduate and graduate level courses online, hit a monthly traffic record of over 2 million visits[37]. Since then, university students have also begun sharing notes and knowledge through open access platforms. Platforms like GradeGuru are providing an open access community for students to share notes and peer review their materials. For more on the history of open access, see Peter Suber's "Timeline of the Open Access Movement",[38]. 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".[39] 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.

See also


  1. ^ a b [1]
  2. ^ Budapest Open Access Initiative
  3. ^ Browse Research Institutional or Departmental (ROAR)
  4. ^ eprints - Welcome to eprints@OUDIR
  5. ^ Browse Research Cross-Institutional (ROAR)
  6. ^ Association of Research Libraries :: Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads: A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing
  7. ^ Poynder On Point: Ten Years After
  8. ^ American-Scientist-Open-Access-Forum: Re: when did the Open Access movement "officially" begin
  9. ^ Directory of open access journals
  10. ^ WLN: Library Microcomputer Hall of Fame
  11. ^ The Bryn Mawr Classical Review
  12. ^ Project MUSE - Postmodern Culture
  13. ^ Welcome to PsycPrints
  14. ^ [physics/0102004] Predecessors of preprint servers
  15. ^ Self-Archiving FAQ
  16. ^ Institute of Physics - Home of the Institute of Physics
  17. ^ Open access self-archiving: An Introduction - ECS EPrints Repository
  18. ^ Association of Research Libraries :: Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads: A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing
  19. ^ D-Lib - In Brief (October 2000)
  20. ^ Archives Of American-Scientist-Open-Access-Forum@Listserver.Sigmaxi.Org
  21. ^ JMIR Home
  22. ^ PubMed Central: An NIH-Operated Site for Electronic Distribution of Life Sciences Research Reports
  23. ^ BioMed Central | about us | Press releases
  24. ^ Interview with Vitek Tracz: Essential for Science
  25. ^ BioMed Central | for authors | Overview
  26. ^ Public Library of Science: Read the Open Letter
  27. ^ PLoS Biology - Why PLoS Became a Publisher
  28. ^ Open-access journal hits rocky times : Article : Nature
  29. ^ Robin Peek, The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 , May 8, 2006
  30. ^ Federal Research Public Access Act
  31. ^ American-Scientist-Open-Access-Forum: Re: Savings from Convertin
  32. ^ AMERICAN-SCIENTIST-OPEN-ACCESS-FORUM archives - 2003 (#710)
  33. ^ Recommendations For Uk Open-Access Provision Policy
  34. ^ Access to Research Outputs
  35. ^ Roarmap
  36. ^ PRISM
  37. ^ MIT OpenCourseWare - Our History
  38. ^ Peter Suber, Open-Access Timeline (formerly: FOS Timeline)
  39. ^ Communication scientifique et Internet

Further reading

  • Lepionka, Mary Ellen (2008). "The Open Access Movement". Writing and Developing Your College Textbook (2nd edition ed.). Glouchester, MA: Atlantic Path Publishing. pp. 19–21. ISBN 9780972816472.  

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