Open Access Initiative

The Information Program is a global leader in the campaign for public access to publicly funded research. Access to knowledge is a founding principle of any open society, and we support the unfettering of knowledge created through academic research both as an essential public good and as a way to address the gap between the production of academic knowledge and the needs of civil society.

Purpose and Priorities

Since the launch of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) in 2002, the movement for Open Access (OA) to scholarly research publications has made enormous strides. A worldwide movement of researchers, librarians and other advocates has succeeded in pressing for the adoption of more than 200 OA publication mandates by research funders and major universities, including a number of the largest research funders in the world. Currently there are bills before both houses of U.S. Congress to extend similar mandates to all large U.S. funding agencies, and similar breakthroughs are taking place in Europe. Through the EIFL network, the Information Program supports OA advocacy in some 50 developing and transition countries, support which has resulted in over 30 OA publication mandates being adopted in EIFL member countries. 

New recommendations for the further advancement of Open Access were released in 2012. The recommendations were developed by leaders of the Open Access movement and are the result of a meeting Open Society Foundations organized to mark the tenth anniversary of the BOAI. The recommendations include the development of Open Access policies in institutions of higher education and in funding agencies, the open licensing of scholarly works, the development of infrastructure such as Open Access repositories and creating standards of professional conduct for Open Access publishing. The recommendations also establish a new goal of achieving Open Access as the default method for distributing new peer-reviewed research in every field and in every country within ten years’ time.

Besides our continued support for advocacy around OA, we are also working to address gaps in the movement in two specific areas: the extension of enthusiasm for OA from the natural sciences to the humanities and social sciences, and the application of OA principles beyond newly published materials. Over the past ten years, the most spectacular advances made towards OA have occurred in the natural sciences, while the humanities and social sciences—disciplines just as central to the needs of open society—still lag behind. The OA movement has made most headway in achieving access to newly–published materials, especially in journals. Much remains to be done to achieve appropriate access to the enormous backlist of valuable materials published in the pre-OA era, and to shift the publication of monographs to OA models.

The Open Access Initiative is complemented by parallel Open Science and Open Educational Resources initiatives.

Guidelines

The Open Access Initiative has a full program of work for 2013. The Open Access Initiative will consider applications from new partners in line with the above stated priorities however please keep in mind that we are only able to fund a limited number of the many applications we receive. If you are considering applying for funding under this initiative, please send a one-page concept paper to informationprogram.grants@opensocietyfoundations.org. The paper should include the following information:

  • A brief description of the project goals and planned activities.
  • Information about the applicant organization and project partners.
  • An idea of how much your project will cost.

We endeavor to respond to applications for funds which meet the criteria specified within two months.