Open access celebrating the tenth anniversary

An open access initiative is celebrating ten years of its activities and existence. The Open Access philosophy was firmly articulated in 2002, when the Budapest Open Access Initiative was introduced. It quickly took root in the scientific and medical communities because it offered an alternative route to research literature that was frequently closed off behind costly subscription barriers.

For centuries – since the invention of printing – the research and science process has operated through a well-known process. Self organized or private research is submitted to scientific journals to be peer reviewed, and then published for the benefit of other researchers and the academic community or public. But to many scientists, that process is becoming obsolete since the nature of the information is dynamic.

This publishing system is inflexible, slow, expensive and can prove to be elitist. The process of reviewing by peers can take some time, database subscriptions can be costly, and gatekeepers can limit sharing the knowledge and flow of information.

For those not familiar, the term “Open Access” (OA), the free online availability of research literature, was first coined at an Open Society sponsored meeting in Budapest in December 2001, with its primarily goal of an Open access to peer-reviewed journal literature. BOAI (Budapest Open Access Initiative) in order to achieve open access to scholarly journal literature recommends two complementary strategies: Self-archiving and a new generation of open-access journals.

Today, according to OA, there are nearly 7,500 academic journals readily accessible in the Directory of Open Access Journals and more than 2,000 archives are included in the Directory of Open Access Repositories freely available online to doctors, patients, professors, and students around the world.

Open-access repositories and journals like arXiv , SSRN, and the Public Library of Science (PLoS) are some of the many examples that have appeared on the scientific scene in recent years as well as education programs like MIT’s OpenCourseWare with the idea of openly sharing educational resources into the public.

Also this week the Open Knowledge Foundation announced a new open access initiative  by creating a site dedicated to the promotion of Open Access, something they are referring to as @ccess. They indicate that most of the 2.5 million articles published each year in the world’s 24,000 peer-reviewed journals are closed to many of their potential users because they cannot afford access. The solution to this problem is in free and unrestricted access to scientific information for everyone: free to read, reuse, and redistribute.

I’ve wrote a bit earlier on Australian Science about the open access in science and scientific publishing. This week is marked by celebration of open access worldwide and you may find the following sources as an interesting read:

–  a list of social media sites focused on open access launched by the Open Access Directory
EFF A Decade of Open Access (And the Challenges Ahead)

– Open Access week web site

– Budapest Open Access Initiative

Photo: Flickr source

Danica is an internet researcher, consultant and speaker on social media and digital inclusion. Her academic research is rooted in her own practical experiences breaking down digital walls in central European society. She is Tech, and Research editor for Australian Science. Read more of her work at her blog, and follow her on twitter @DanicaR.

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