Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The open access movement (also known as open-access publishing and free online scholarship) is an effort to grant access to a large variety of up-to-date information sources for free. Correspondingly, the open access paradigm focuses on allowing all members of society to freely access relevant cultural and scientific achievements, in particular by encouraging the free (online) availability of such information. This includes both the authors' general agreement to a work's free distribution and the implementation of a suitable (technical) infrastructure that allows for such a distribution. In contrast to the idea of open content that sometimes is assumed to include the general permission to modify a given work, open access mainly refers to free availability without any further implications. Indeed, many open access projects are concerned with scientific publishing -- an area where it is quite reasonable to keep a work's content static and to associate it with a fixed author.
The open access movement has primarily been motivated by the new technical possibilities of worldwide electronic networking. The great success of first free scientific online archives, such as arXiv.org, encouraged further development, while many researchers started independently to make preprints of articles available on their homepages. This new situation also requires to establish suitable infrastructures for the increasing amounts of free information. The project Citeseer is an example for a service that is targeted not only at collecting research works, but also at classifying their content, relating them among each other, and providing access to a document in various formats.
Recently the proliferation and increasing subscription costs of classical scientific journals – especially those published by the infamous Elsevier group, often resulting of an even more restricted availability in their content, has led to a further increase of open access publications. Probably the first proponent of the Open Access model was the physicist Leo Szilard, who (to stem the flood of low-quality publications) in the 1940s jokingly suggested that each scientist at the beginning of his career be issued with 100 vouchers to pay for his papers.
The general principles of open access require that authors are willing to grant an irrevocable right for anybody to download, copy, redistribute, and view a given work. However, this should always include the proper attribution of the author and does in general not allow a work's modification or its (especially commercial) print in large numbers. A suitable number of private printouts as well as the public display of a work is generally permitted. The static nature of a publication together with the determined authorship also helps to guarantee the author's responsibility for his or her work -- an aspect that is highly relevant in scientific publishing. It should also be noted that open access materials are still subject to a thorough quality control. In fact the electronic open access journals published today are usually supported by a number of (often well-known) editors who organize the refereeing process and select publications.
On the side of the service providers, open access encourages that information is hosted by public or non-profit organizations, including governmental institutions and universities. This helps to ensure that human knowledge and cultural heritage is neither exploited for particular, possibly commercial, interests, and that all information will stay available in the future.
In October 2003 the Berlin Declaration called for the "transition to the Electronic Open Access Paradigm". It was signed by all major German research organizations and many international ones.
In July 2004, the Science and Technology Committee of the British House of Commons published a report recommending that publicly funded research should be made freely available under the conditions of Open Access.
Open access projects
Some of the most important open access projects are listed below. However, the increasing number of high quality journals and sites adhering to the principle of open access can (currently) not be reflected by this page -- refer to the external links below.
- Public Library of Science
- BioMed Central
- Directory of Open Access Journals
- Information from Peter Suber's homepage:
- Budapest Open Access Initiative
- Article on a scientists' boycott due to Elsevier's increasing subscription fees. From John Baez' homepage.
- The Berlin Declaration on open access.
- An Open Letter to the U.S. Congress Signed by 25 Nobel Prize Winners (August 26, 2004) in support of a bill requiring all research funded by the National Institutes of Health to be published in an open access form
- Call for freely available Science (BBC News July 20, 2004), Scientific Publications: Free for all? (The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee - Tenth Report, July 7, 2004)
- Nature web focus: Access to the literature: the debate continues
- The Nine Flavours of Open Access Scholarly Publishing
- Open Access Torah Scholarship Project
- Open Archives Initiative
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