Today starts the beginning of Open Access Week. Last year began what is now an annual event with Open Access Day. The event’s expansion after its first year is testament to the growing enthusiasm and commitment to the movement for free and immediate online access to scholarly research.
This year over 200 sites worldwide — colleges, universities, research institutes, and advocacy organizations — will host events to promote awareness of and support for Open Access. For detailed information about Open Access and the planned events for this week, visit the OpenAccessWeek.org web site.
What is Open Access? For starters you can check out this 3-minute animated Open Access 101 video developed by SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), the organizers of Open Access Week.
For a more detailed explanation, you can read the “Open Access Overview” by Peter Suber, Senior Researcher at SPARC and Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College. As the Overview states, “Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” Of course beyond that simple criteria exists many complicated questions about publishing costs, the peer-review process, and copyright controls. All of these issues are covered extensively by Suber in his Overview as well as regularly in his blog “Open Access News,” and SPARC newsletter.
Momentum is certainly building in the world of open-access, driven in large part by the combination of rising journal costs, but perhaps even more significantly by the motivation to provide unfettered access to scholarship and research. To better serve that social need, the U.S. government has enacted legislation, university libraries have established scholarly repositories, and faculty groups have mandated commitments to open access publishing.
I will add more specifics about these different initiatives and what we are doing here in the UML Libraries in support of open access in a set of daily writings on the topic that I will post this week.