Open Access Movement

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= The Open Access movement is a social movement in academia, dedicated to the principle of open access — to information-sharing for the common good. [1]


The Wikipedia entry on the Open Access Movement, at , defines it as follows:

"Open access (OA) is the free online availability of digital content. It is best-known and most feasible for peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly journal articles, which scholars publish without expectation of payment. Open Access publishing, where the author (usually the author's research funder or institution) pays the publication costs, has been proposed as an alternative to a subscription-based cost-recovery model."


Here's the definition of open access from Peter Suber's Open Access Overview:

Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.

  • OA removes price barriers (subscriptions, licensing fees, pay-per-view fees) and permission barriers (most copyright and licensing restrictions). The PLoS shorthand definition —"free availability and unrestricted use"— succinctly captures both elements.
  • There is some flexibility about which permission barriers to remove. For example, some OA providers permit commercial re-use and some do not. Some permit derivative works and some do not. But all of the major public definitions of OA agree that merely removing price barriers, or limiting permissible uses to "fair use" ("fair dealing" in the UK), is not enough.
  • Here's how the Budapest Open Access Initiative put it: "There are many degrees and kinds of wider and easier access to this literature. 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."
  • Here's how the Bethesda and Berlin statements put it: For a work to be OA, the copyright holder must consent in advance to let users "copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship...."
  • The Budapest (February 2002), Bethesda (June 2003), and Berlin (October 2003) definitions of "open access" are the most central and influential for the OA movement. Sometimes I call refer to them collectively, or to their common ground, as the BBB definition.
  • While removing price barriers without removing permission barriers is not enough for full OA under the BBB definition, there's no doubt that price barriers constitute the bulk of the problem for which OA is the solution. Removing price barriers alone will give most OA proponents most of what they want and need.
  • In addition to removing access barriers, OA should be immediate, rather than delayed, and should apply to full-text, not just to abstracts or summaries.

(Read the rest at

More information

  1. See our detailed treatment, here at Open Access
  2. Access to Knowledge Movement ; A2K Access to Knowledge

From Peter Suber:

Open Access Overview (my introduction to OA for those who are new to the concept)

Very Brief Introduction to Open Access (like the above, but prints on just one page)

Another Interview on the importance of Open Access in Research (discussion of the 'gold route' and 'green route' for publishing scientific knowledge)

Open Access News blog (my blog, updated daily)

SPARC Open Access Newsletter (my newsletter, published monthly)

Writings on Open Access (my articles on OA)

Timeline of the open access movement (my chronology of the landmark events)

What you can do to help the cause of open access