Open Access is free, immediate, permanent online access to the full text of research articles for anyone, web wide, without the severe restrictions on use commonly imposed by publisher copyright agreements.
There are two roads to open access:
· the “green road” of open access self-archiving, where authors provide open access to their own published articles, by making their own e-prints (the final accepted version) freely available to all by placing them in institutional or central repositories;
the “golden road” of open access journal-publishing, where journals provide open access to their articles (either by charging the author/institution, a publication or processing fee instead of charging a subscription fee from the user/institution, or by simply making their online edition free for all and recouping the publication and production costs from other source).
An Open Access Publication is one that meets the following two conditions:
The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to 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, as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.
A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission as stated above, in a suitable standard electronic format is deposited immediately upon initial publication in at least one online repository that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving (for the biomedical sciences, PubMed Central is such a repository).
The two roads to open access, viz. open access self-archiving and open access publishing, are complementary. Normally, by open access we mean open access to refereed research papers. But open access does not exclude other forms of scholarly material such as preprints, theses, conference papers and reports.
Research is a truly global and collective endeavor. It is at once a competitive and cooperative enterprise where free and unhindered flow of knowledge is essential for making any advance.
Researchers build on what is already known. Cooperative or competitive, lone ranger, or working as a team, researchers depend to a great extent on the contributions to knowledge made by others across space and time researcher working in any part of the world and those who have contributed to research in the past.
Down the centuries, since scholarly communication is said to have begun in ancient Greece more than 2,000 years ago, research has typically been communicated in parallel by speech and writing. However, since the beginning of modern research in Western Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries flow of information is facilitate largely by professional journals.
Ever since the first professional journal — Journal des Sçavans in France and the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in England — commenced publication in 1665, the printed journal has become the primary vehicle of knowledge dissemination among scientists and scholars. Journals occupy a special place in scholarly communication, not only because they help scientists get the status of a permanent record for their new findings but also to establish ‘credentials’.
In the early days there were a few researchers and few journals, but in the past three centuries the number of researchers has increased exponentially. Since the early 1700s, the number of scholars in scientific disciplines has doubled every 15 years, according to de Solla Price.
With the rising number of journals, academies and societies which were traditionally publishing them could no longer cope with the numbers and enterprising commercial publishers started taking over the burden of publishing many of the journals. That paved the way for privatization of knowledge. Today there are reportedly 25,000 refereed journals in the areas of science, technology and medicine (STM), many of them published by commercial publishers. As of late 2010, Elsevier published 1610 journals, Springer 588 journals and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 299 journals.
Three companies dominate: Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley. Elsevier is the dominant force in Science, Technology, and Medical (STM) publishing. Commercial publishers have established considerable monopoly power, playing a role in 60 per cent of all peer-reviewed journals, owning 45 per cent and publishing 17 per cent on behalf of non-profit organizations. In STM, seven major commercial publishers account for 30 per cent of peer-reviewed titles but 60 per cent of the market’s revenue.”
the advent of new technologies such as the Internet and the World Wide Web, it became possible for scientists around the world to look for alternatives to journals. For example, in 1991 Paul Ginsparg of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) came up with arXiv, an electronic preprint service for the physics community. Although there had been preprint services for physicists earlier, such as the ones at the Centre for Research in Nuclear Energy, Geneva (CERN) and Stanford Linear Accelerator laboratory (SLAC), it was arXiv which really revolutionized sharing of information among physicists in a fully online manner. With dwindling budgets and rising costs of journals, scholarly communication today is at a crossroads. We need to think seriously about how scholarly information can be shared efficiently and at an affordable cost. Even librarians in affluent institutions in the United States feel that current methods of scholarly communication are unsustainable and proving to be excessively restrictive.
There are over one million authors who produce over 1.5 million research articles every year.
But getting access to this sum total of knowledge costs an exorbitant amount
If you are accessing articles through your university, your university library is spending almost 65 percent of its budget to subscribe to these journals, eating into the money available to buy new books, software and other resources.
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