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Open Access: About Open Access

Resources and Information about the Open Access Movement

What is Open Access?

The Berlin Declaration

The Berlin declaration on Open Access to Scientific Knowledge of 22 October 2003 was written in English (Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities) and is one of the milestones of the open access movement. The wording of the English version shall prevail.

What is Open Access?  

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In order to make the changes and opportunities in scholarly communication work, it is vital that the material is available on the Internet; digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. Open Access provides the means to maximise the visibility, and thus the uptake and use, of research outputs. Open Access is the immediate, online, free availability of research outputs without the severe restrictions on use commonly imposed by publisher copyright agreements. It concerns the outputs that scholars normally give away free to be published – peer-reviewed journal articles, conference papers and datasets of various kinds.

Open Access for the Deeply Confused

To non-scientists (and even some scientists) Open Access can feel like a confusing issue. You’ve walked into a room halfway through a debate, and the participants are using language that was agreed long before you even knew there was an issue to be solved. So  here’s a very basic guide to Open Access for non-academics. It’s by no means comprehensive and I welcome clarification comments…. but it’s a start if you don’t know where to.

How Open Access Empowered a 16-Year-Old to Make Cancer Breakthrough

Open Access Explained

Open Access Button

Open Access Button - track attempts to access articles behind a paywall


People are denied access to research hidden behind paywalls every day. This problem is invisible, but it slows innovation, kills curiosity and harms patients. This is an indictment of the current system. Open Access has given us the solution to this problem by allowing everyone to read and re-use research. We created the Open Access Button to track the impact of paywalls and help you get access to the research you need. By using the button you’ll help show the impact of this problem, drive awareness of the issue, and help change the system.

The Open Access Button is a browser-based tool that lets users track when they are denied access to research, then search for alternative access to the article. Each time a user encounters a paywall, he simply clicks the button in his bookmark bar, fills out an optional dialogue box, and his experience is added to a map alongside other users. Then, the user receives a link to search for free access to the article using resources such as Google Scholar. The Open Access Button initiative hopes to create a worldwide map showing the impact of denied access to research. Every person who uses the Open Access Button brings us closer to changing the system.

Open Access, Open Minds: Who should be the academic gatekeepers?

Open Access, Open Minds: Who should be the academic gatekeepers?

By Caroline Wintersgill

The debate on open access for academic research has reached boiling point – it is difficult to open a serious newspaper or have a conversation with anyone connected to a university without it coming up. Less discussed, outside the pioneering fringes of the open innovation agenda, are the likely effects on wider book markets, our cultural and intellectual life, and the very possibility of a writing career.

The argument that publicly funded research (or research conducted as part of a university contract) should be freely available to read by anyone who wants it around the globe is a compelling one, especially for academics who have spent years writing their major book, to find that it has sold only 200 copies at a stratospherically high price.

Can we “fix” open access? (re the recent 'sting' article in Science)

Can we “fix” open access? (re the recent 'sting' article in Science)

By On October 7, 2013 ·  As Duke University’s first Scholarly Communications Officer, Kevin Smith’s principal role is to teach and advise faculty, administrators and students about copyright, intellectual property licensing and scholarly publishing

The later part of this past week was dominated, for me, by discussions of the article published in Science about a “sting” operation directed against a small subset of open access journals that purports to show that peer-review is sometimes not carried out very well, or not at all.  Different versions of a “fake” article, which the authors tell us could easily be determined to be poor science, were sent to a lot of different OA journals, and it was accepted by a large number of them.

A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access

A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access

by Peter Suber
Open Access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of
most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the
internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.
OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives
for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance. Just as
authors of journal articles donate their labor, so do most journal editors
and referees participating in peer review.
OA literature is not free to produce, even if it is less expensive to produce
than conventionally published literature. The question is not whether
scholarly literature can be made costless, but whether there are better
ways to pay the bills than by charging readers and creating access barriers.
Business models for paying the bills depend on how OA is delivered.

Access to Scientific Literature: What to Do When Your Goose Stops Laying Golden Eggs

Access to Scientific Literature: What to Do When Your Goose Stops Laying Golden Eggs

After years of being held at the mercy of commercial publishing interests, scientists are beginning to wake up and take steps to recoup the rights to their own work.

The scientific literature represents the accumulation of centuries of knowledge, experimentation, and experience. As the scientific process has been characterized as nanos gigantum humeris insidentes (Latin for "dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants"), the scientific literature is the body of knowledge on which we dwarfs stand, in the hope of gaining a bit more insight.

In the past few decades, however, the scientific literature has been bought up by commercial publishing interests, and has been made expensive and in too-many cases inaccessible to far too many of us dwarfs. This commentary is about the realization of the problem -- that much of the scientific literature is now available only on a for-charge basis -- and the beginnings of a solution.

Publication fees for open access journals: Different disciplines-different methods

Publication fees for open access journals: Different disciplines-different methods

Many authors appear to think that most open access (OA) journals charge authors for their publications. This brief communication examines the basis for such beliefs and finds it wanting. Indeed, in this study of over 9,000 OA journals included in the Directory of Open Access Journals, only 28% charged authors for publishing in their journals. This figure, however, was highest in various disciplines in medicine (47%) and the sciences (43%) and lowest in the humanities (4%) and the arts (0%).

Open access in Europe: the bear and the tortoise

Open access in Europe: the bear and the tortoise | Euroscientist Webzine

"A little over decade from now, we may look back at the era when scientific research was locked up behind paywalls with curious fascination. How could it be that publicly funded research could be withheld from the very people that funded it, namely the taxpayer? How could access restricted even to the people that utilised it most, scientists?  And how could a cabal of global publishers rake in billions in profit through activities they had little or no part in supporting financially? The situation would be laughable, if only it was funny and not a part of our working reality. Now, The Euroscientist looks at the way the field of open access has evolved in Europe ..."


PLOS Progress Update 2012-2013

PLOS Progress Update 2012-2013

Celebrating its tenth anniversary as an Open Access publisher, PLOS is pleased to share its Progress Update 2012-2013.

"The founding vision of PLOS has been realized through what is today a freely accessible, openly reusable online library of research, supported by thousands of scientists who contribute to and depend on a suite of seven influential journals—including PLOS ONE, now the largest journal in the world" - Gary Ward, Chairman of the Board and Elizabeth Marincola, CEO.

Read the Progress Update to learn more about PLOS accomplishments as an advocate, publisher and innovator:

  • Open Access Momentum and Community
  • Advancing Scholarly Publishing
  • Publishing Research Responsibly
  • Innovative Publishing
  • Extending Article Content
  • Reinvesting in Science

Disruption vs. Protection - Open Access Archivangelism

Disruption vs. Protection - Open Access Archivangelism

I. Call for Disruption: Serial publications are overpriced and unaffordable; publisher profits are excessive; the subscription (license) model is unsustainable: the subscription model needs to be disrupted in order to force it to evolve toward Gold OA.

II. Call for Protection: Serials publications are threatened by (Green) OA, which risks making the subscription model unsustainable: the subscription model needs to be protected in order to allow it to evolve toward Gold OA.

Quick guide to 10 recent open access policy and positioning statements

Quick guide to 10 recent open access policy and positioning statements

1. G8 Ministers of Science statement (June 2013

2. Global Research Council Action Plan (May 2013)

3. UNESCO OA policy (May 2013)

4. RCUK policy (UK) (April 2013)

5. Science Europe (April 2013)

6. Office Science Technology Policy (USA) (February 2013)

7. HEFCE proposal (UK) (February 2013)

8. Australian Research Council (January 2013)

9. Irish National Principles on Open Access Policy Statement (January 2013)

10. European Commission (July 2012)

Half of 2011 papers now free to read

Half of 2011 papers now free to read

Boost for advocates of open-access research articles.

Search the Internet for any research article published in 2011, and you have a 50–50 chance of downloading it for free.

University of California - New Open Access Policy

Frontiers is Open Science

High quality open access publishing and research networking

Frontiers is Open Science


Frontiers is an online platform for the scientific community to publish open-access articles and network with colleagues.

  • Fast, open-access publication
  • Rigorous peer-review in real-time thanks to our interactive, online interface
  • Detailed metrics to follow the impact of articles
  • A networking platform made especially for the scientific community

CSUN Opens Floodgates on Faculty Research

CSUN Opens Floodgates on Faculty Research

President Dianne F. Harrison signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access last month. The Berlin Declaration calls for open access to knowledge in the humanities and sciences, recognizing that the Internet has changed the way knowledge and information is disseminated.

“One of the fundamental cornerstones of higher education and our work at CSUN as a regional university is to ensure that the fruits of our scholarship and research benefit our community and society at large,” Harrison said. “The declaration is already closely aligned with our commitment and efforts to broadly share knowledge and information, so I was pleased to sign the declaration.”

Busting the top five myths about open access publishing

Taxpayer-funded research should be out there for everyone to access. muffin9101985/Flickr

Busting the top five myths about open access publishing

Rather than lock up knowledge in costly journals, increasingly universities and governments are recognising that publicly funded research should be open to all.

Myth 1 – open access journals are not peer reviewed

In reality the majority of open access journals reflect the majority of subscription journals and have a strong peer review process prior to publication. In almost all of these cases peer review and editing is being done for free by the academic community – in both subscription and open access journals.

Myth 2 – all open journals charge publication fees

In reality many open access journals do not charge publication fees at all. For example the vast majority of open access journals published by Australian universities are fully open access and do not charge publication fees.

Myth 3 – you must choose between prestige and going open

This myth is incorrect for two reasons. First, many open access journals are prestigious. The Public Library of Science publishes several high impact open access journals. Their multidisciplinary open access journal PLOS ONE was established in 2007, and by 2010 was the world’s largest journal.

Myth 4 – open access is ok for second-rate work, but not first-rate work

This is an odd myth – why would a researcher publicise poor work by making it available and keep their top work hidden behind subscription barriers? Making work available means that more people are able to see the work and citations rise accordingly. Indeed the benefits of open access are many and varied.

Myth 5 – post-print archiving violates copyright

Most publishers allow a version of work to be made open access. There is a useful website which provides information on what publishers allow.


Gold for Gold


Gold for Gold is an innovative experiment from the Royal Society of Chemistry that enables researchers to publish their paper in RSC journals free of charge, as a Gold Open Access (OA) article, without paying the normal Article Publication Fee (APF).

The RSC launched a pilot scheme in July 2012 to recognise the needs of researchers, who are being asked to publish Open Access (OA), but who often do not have the funding to pay for it directly. Under this initiative UK institutions that subscribe to RSC Gold (RSC's premium collection of 37 international journals, databases and magazines) are rewarded with voucher codes to have papers OA.
Following significant positive feedback and an improvement of processes and procedures, this initiative has gone global and OA voucher codes are now available worldwide to all institutions that subscribe to RSC Gold. In short, the RSC is committed to supporting the funder-led evolution to Gold OA.

The Rhodes Library is a 'RSC Gold’customer – our annual (2013)subscription (to the Gold package) was R194,000.00 (which at today’s exchange rate is about £13,500.00 ). This would pay the APF for 8 papers from Rhodes (see below on how they calculate this). 

Gold for Gold FAQs


Good examples of promoting Open Access: University of California and University of Manchester

Good examples of promoting Open Access: University of California and University of Manchester

Open Access is right now quite a hot topic. It is discussed by the scientific community, implemented by governments and introduced across other areas of social life. However, OA still needs proper promotion to reach the largest possible audience. A greater number of institutions and universities become aware of this issue and they take a more proactive stance in promoting Open Access.

Today’s example of promotion of Open Access on the Internet comes from the University of Manchester,  which launched a special website/portal named Open Access at Manchester. The website contains a lot of useful information for researchers and scholars who are thinking about publishing their works in the OA model. They can find information about journals, how to gain funding for covering APCs and where to deposit a paper. Moreover, the website disseminates news about Open Access, informs readers about OA policies, includes FAQ and presents the latest OA research via Manchester eScholar.

This initiative not only promotes OA but also provides useful information for authors.


UNESCO to make its publications available free of charge as part of a new Open Access policy

UNESCO to make its publications available free of charge as part of a new Open Access policy

UNESCO will make its digital publications available to millions of people around the world free-of-charge with an open license. Following a decision by the Organization’s Executive Board in April, UNESCO has become the first member of the United Nations to adopt such an Open Access policy for its publications. The new policy means that anyone will be able to download, translate, adapt, distribute and re-share UNESCO publications and data without paying.

World Bank Open Access Policy and Open Knowledge Repository

World Bank Open Access Policy and Open Knowledge Repository

The World Bank approved recently a new Open Access policy for its research outputs and knowledge products, effective July 1, 2012. The new policy formalizes the Bank's practice of making research and knowledge freely available online. In support of the new policy the Bank is consolidating thousands of books, articles, reports and research papers in a search-engine friendly Open Knowledge Repository, and allowing the public to distribute, reuse and build upon much of its work. Watch this video to learn more about the policy and how can users around the world benefit and use the new Open Knowledge Repository.

For more information please visit:

Providing Open Access to your work

Ways to provide Open Access to your work:

There are two basic approaches to making research findings Open Access. One is to deposit a copy of every article in an Open Access repository (this process is known as 'self-archiving' or "Green OA") and the other is to publish in Open Access journals (also known as "Gold OA") or in one of the growing collections of hybrid journals.


Authors can make their work Open Access by posting their pre-print, post-print  or, when permitted, the publisher version of the article in an Open Access repository. These are collections of articles, datasets and other supporting research-related material. They may cover a particular discipline or subject or they may be broad-scope. Institutional repositories are usually of the latter type though there may be specialised repositories within institutions - in departments or schools or even in research groups. A repository collecting the research outputs of a university or research institute is an excellent institutional tool as well as the means for enabling the institution's researchers to showcase their work. See much more on Open Access repositories here.

Open Access journals  

Open Access journals are peer-reviewed just like traditional subscription-access (Toll Access) journals except that they do not charge readers to use them. They cover their costs in other ways and publish their content online for free. Open Access journals operate like Toll Access journals in every other way, including managing the peer review process. For much more on Open Access journals, see here.

Hybrid journals

Authors can also choose to publish in traditional toll access journals whose publishers offer an option to make articles Open Access upon payment of a fee. The list of publishers offering this hybrid model in available here:

Self-archiving & Citation Advantage

There are indications that scholarly articles available in an open access version are more visible and are cited more often than those which are only available via the subscription journal gateway.

Facebook page on OA

Open Access Links & Literature

The following informal facebook page was created quite a while ago to keep OA links and readings on OA and related aspects in Africa and beyond together. You are most welcome to contribute and use.


Some answers to the most common misconceptions about sharing research data

If you are a fan of data sharing, open data, open science, and generally openness in research, you’ve heard them all: excuses for keeping data out of the public domain. If you are NOT a fan of openness, you should be. For both groups (the fans and the haters), I’ve decided to construct a “Frankenstein monster” blog post composed of other peoples’ suggestions for how to deal with the excuses.