The concept of open access is about free and open access to academic literature. The purpose of open access is to provide free, instant online access to research findings without any restrictions for end users.
Open access is defined by three original open access declarations:
The Budapest (February 2002) ...Removing access barriers to this literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.
Bethesda (June 2003) ... goal was to agree on significant, concrete steps that all relevant parties — the organizations ..., the scientists ..., the publishers ..., the librarians and other who depend on access to this knowledge—can take to promote the rapid and efficient transition to open access publishing...
Berlin (October 2003) ...to promote the Internet as a functional instrument for a global scientific knowledge base and human reflection and to specify measures which research policy makers, research institutions, funding agencies, libraries, archives and museums need to consider.
Challenge to licence-based access to research
Open access is a publication option that challenges licence-based access as we know it today, where only those affiliated with institutions that have a subscription may gain access to publicly funded research. This impedes access and visibility, as well as application of research findings from universities.
Professor John Houghton from Victoria University, Australia, wrote a series of reports in 2009 about the financial advantages of open access in several European countries. His reports conclude, among other things, that open access will boost the visibility, access and application of publicly funded research findings. The reports can be downloaded via Knowledge Exchange, a collaborative project between SURF, Jisc, DEFF and others.
There are several reasons why open access emerged, one key reason being that it can make optimum use of the potential offered by technology. It is now easier to archive your own articles on the internet or even on your own website. An equally important reason is that the cost of subscriptions to journals has risen steeply over the last 10 to 20 years and that new approaches are needed to ensure that relevant research findings remain accessible.
There are two routes for open access publication of your research. The gold road is publication in open access journals and the green road is parallel publication in research archives (either institutional repositories, such as Orbit, or academic repositories, such as http://arXiv.org)