Budapest Open Access Initiative

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Budapest Open Access Initiative

URL = http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/boaifaq.htm

How did the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) arise?

On December 1-2, 2001, the Open Society Institute (OSI) called a meeting in Budapest of leading proponents of open access for scientific and scholarly journal literature. The goal was to see how far the many current initiatives could assist one another and how OSI could use its resources to help the cause.

Is this an Eastern European initiative?

No. It is a worldwide initiative. It is named after Budapest only because the Open Society Institute (OSI) is headquartered there and that is where OSI convened the meeting that planned the initiative.

There is a tradition of naming initiatives, public statements, and principles after the cities in which they were formulated and announced. For example, even limiting attention to our own general subject-area, there are important public statements named after Aarhus, Dakar, Florence, Havana, Lund, Nairobi, Okinawa, San José, Sante Fe, and Tempe. We are consciously following this tradition.

What is the difference between BOAI and other initiatives to make various kinds of digital information free for users?

The BOAI is distinctive in its scope and its insistence on author consent. (1) BOAI focuses specifically on peer-reviewed research literature, and does not apply to software, music, movies, or anything else. (2) For BOAI, free access should depend on author consent, not just user need or desire. For more on the second condition, see our questions about consent and copyright below.

For which body of literature, exactly, does BOAI hope to secure open access?

BOAI only seeks open access for the scientific and scholarly research texts that authors give to publishers and readers without asking for any kind of royalty or payment. As the BOAI public statement puts it, "[p]rimarily, this category encompasses...peer-reviewed journal articles, but it also includes any unreviewed preprints that [scholars] might wish to put online for comment or to alert colleagues to important research findings." It does not include books from which their authors would prefer to generate revenue. It does not include any non-scholarly writings, such as novels or news.

While the BOAI does not specifically cover donated scholarship other than peer-reviewed journal articles and preprints, it could be extended quite naturally to all the writings for which authors do not expect payment. These include scholarly monographs on specialized topics, conference proceedings, theses and dissertations, government reports, and statutes and judicial opinions.

What does BOAI mean by "open access"?

Here is the definition of "open access" from the BOAI: "By 'open access' to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited."

Is open access compatible with copyright?

Completely. The short answer is that copyright law gives the copyright holder the right to make access open or restricted, and the BOAI seeks to put copyright in the hands of authors or institutions that will consent to make access open.

How do we know that open-access publishing is economically sustainable?

Our confidence arises from existing journals that give us hope, and background reasons already evident to think that open-access publishing will be economically sustainable.

The background reasons are of two kinds: first, evidence that the costs of open-access publishing are significantly lower than the costs of traditional publishing, and second, reasons to think that the money to cover these significantly reduced costs can be found, even if only by redirecting the sources now paying the higher costs of traditional publication. We enumerate both kinds of reasons in our answer to the question how open-access journals pay their expenses.

The open-access model is far more sustainable than the current model, under which journal prices have been rising faster than inflation and faster than library budgets for three decades. On the open-access model, journal costs will drop. Paying for them will be easier even if no additional money is found. The money already spent on scholarly literature will be more than adequate rather than increasingly inadequate.

What is the difference between Open Access and Open Source?

Open source software, like free software, is a kind of software, namely, software whose source code is freely available for inspection or modification. Open access is a kind of access or availability. This kind of access could apply to any digital content, such as software, music, movies, or news. But the BOAI only calls for open access to a certain kind of scientific and scholarly literature. Also see our question on how the BOAI differs from other initiatives to make digital information free for users." (http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/boaifaq.htm)