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OER (Open Educational Resources): Open Access

What Is Open Access?

Open access is a publishing and distribution model that makes scholarly research literature—much of which is funded by taxpayers around the world—freely available to the public online, without restrictions.

Harnessing the power of the internet, open access brings the results of academic research to unprecedented numbers of scientists, university professors, medical researchers, patients, inventors, students, and the general public—democratizing access to knowledge, accelerating discovery and fueling innovation. (Credit: Open Society Foundations)

How Did the Open Access Movement Begin?

Concentrated, collaborative, international work on the open access model accelerated significantly after December 2001, when an Open Society Foundations–sponsored meeting in Budapest developed a statement of principles on open access to research literature. This statement, the Budapest Open Access Initiative, called for radical change to a $10 billion industry by creating new open access journals and urging researchers to report the results of their work in institutional archives.

However, two subsequent initiatives which were inspired by the Budapest Open Access Initiative—the Bethesda Statement from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and the Berlin Declaration, which originated from the Max Planck Society—broadened and strengthened the base of support for open access. Scholarly researchers, libraries, students, patient advocates, and small businesses, among others, have organized their members and driven the effort to implement the open access model. (Credit: Open Society Foundations)

Open Access Explained

Credit: PhD Comics

Who's Using Open Access Now?

Currently, there are more than 12,000 academic journals accessible in the Directory of Open Access Journals, and more than 3,500 archives are included in the Directory of Open Access Repositories. About 28 percent of peer-reviewed articles today are open access, and the number is increasing with each passing year.

Research funders are playing an increasingly important role in accelerating the adoption of Open Access. The Wellcome Trust in the United Kingdom has lead the way, becoming the world’s first funder to mandate open access for publication of the research it funds. Scores of other research funders—including the largest funder of research in the world, the United States. National Institutes of Health—have subsequently implemented similar policies. In 2013 the U.S. government issued an executive directive instructing all U.S. science funding agencies to provide public access to federally supported research outputs.

Academic and research institutions have also embraced open access, with faculty voting to adopt campus-wide open access policies. (Credit: Open Society Foundations)