WASHINGTON—In response to the growing demand to make research free and available to anyone with a computer and an internet connection, a diverse coalition today issued new recommendations that could usher in huge advances in the sciences, medicine, and health.
The recommendations were developed by leaders of the Open Access movement, which has worked for the past decade to provide the public with unrestricted, free access to scholarly research—much of which is publicly funded. Making the research publicly available to everyone—free of charge and without most copyright and licensing restrictions—will accelerate scientific research efforts and allow authors to reach a larger number of readers.
“The reasons to remove restrictions as far as possible are to share knowledge and accelerate research. Knowledge has always been a public good in a theoretical sense. Open Access makes it a public good in practice,” said professor Peter Suber, director of the Open Access Project at Harvard University and a senior researcher at SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition).
The Open Access 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.
“Science and scholarship are activities funded from the public purse because society believes they will lead to a better future in terms of our health, environment, and culture,” said Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC. “Anything that maximises the efficacy and efficiency of research benefits every one of us. Open Access is a major tool in that quest. These new recommendations will underpin future developments in communicating the results of research over the next decade.”
Today, Open Access is increasingly recognized as a right rather than an abstract ideal. The case for rapid implementation of Open Access continues to grow. Open Access benefits research and researchers; increases the return to taxpayers on their investment in research; and amplifies the social value of research, funding agencies, and research institutions.
The Open Access recommendations are the result of a meeting hosted earlier this year by the Open Society Foundations, on the tenth anniversary of the landmark Budapest Open Access Initiative, which first defined Open Access.
“Foundations rarely have the good fortune to be actively present at the birth of a world-wide movement that fundamentally changes the rules of the game and provides immediate benefit to the world,” said István Rév, director of the Open Society Archives and a member of the Open Society Foundations Global Board. “This is what happened when the Open Society Foundations initiated a meeting at the end of 2001 that gave birth to the Open Access movement.”
SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of more than 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC’s advocacy, educational, and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research. SPARC is on the Web at http://www.arl.org/sparc.
The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. Working with local communities in more than 100 countries, the Open Society Foundations support justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.