What is open access?

What is open access?

By Open Access, we mean the free availability of literature on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, […] or use material for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers […] (Budapest Open Access Initiative, 2002)

                        Definition | BBB Declarations | Self-archiving: green route | OA journals: gold route




 Open Access is defined as free, online, immediate, permanent access to the full-text version of a scientific or scholarly article. This means that anyone anywhere in the world can access the content of articles published in Open Access. All they need is an Internet access.
 In many cases, Open Access also includes the removal of any legal barriers that would otherwise limit the use of the material, so that it can be copied, distributed or publicly communicated, and even transformed (by being translated, for example), provided that authorship is properly attributed and the integrity of the published work is maintained. The first case is described as gratis OA, and the second as libre OA.
 Open Access is compatible with copyright and with review processes. The availability of a text for free online does not mean it has not been checked, or that it is unnecessary to respect the terms under which it is made available. What changes is the method of dissemination. Rather than requiring that users have a subscription, the material is made available based on publication models that permit Open Access.
In recent years Open Access has become more established thanks to initiatives launched by various institutions based on the Budapest, Bethesda and Berlin (BBB) declarations, made in the early years of this century.
The three Bs stand for the cities of Budapest, Bethesda and Berlin, where three key meetings were held to lay the foundations of the Open Access movement. Three important declarations on the subject came out of these meetings:


 Routes to Open Access


 Self-archiving: green route

First, scholars need the tools and assistance to deposit their refereed journal articles in open electronic archives, a practice commonly called self-archiving. When these archives conform to standards created by the Open Archives Initiative (OAI), then search engines and other tools can treat the separate archives as one. Users then need not know which archives exist or where they are located in order to find and make use of their contents.


 OA journals: gold route

Second, academics need the means to launch a new generation of journals committed to Open Access, and to help existing journals that elect to make the transition to Open Access. In order to ensure that journal articles are disseminated as widely as possible, these new journals will no longer invoke copyright to restrict access to and use of the material they publish. Moreover, they will use copyright and other tools to ensure open access to all the articles they publish.
Because price is a barrier to access, these new journals will not charge subscription or access fees, and will look for other ways to finance their operations.


 The green route has developed quickly thanks to the appearance of repositories and Open Access mandates or requirements and as a result of changes to the copyright transfer agreements used by journals. Nowadays, many publishers permit authors to reproduce published articles in the open repositories of the institution where they work or in disciplinary repositories.
 In the case of the gold route, the transition to Open Access has been slower, though the number of OA journals is growing each year, and some leading publications are gaining greater prestige.


For more information, consult the FAQs on copyright or contact us via S@U, the User Support Service, or the CRAI Office for Knowledge Dissemination.



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