Another reason for opening access to research

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 21 December 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1306
  1. John Wilbanks, executive director
  1. 1Science Commons Project, Creative Commons, c/o Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Cambridge, MA 02127, USA

    The idea of open access—that scholarly literature should be “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions”—has made significant inroads into scientific and technical publishing.1

    Summary points

    • Authors should be prioritising open access to their works—for the good of other scientists and to ensure that the full benefits of the internet and advanced technology may be realised

    • Open access is rapidly becoming a mainstream idea in scholarly publishing, with more than 2000 open access journals and more than a million author self archived open access papers

    • Legal and technical barriers to open access are easily overcome using freely available tools

    Much of the debate about open access has focused on the principle of access for scientists (as well as the economics of such a change in the distribution of articles). There is a second principle to consider: the full power of new technological approaches such as text mining, collaborative filtering, and semantic indexing, are not resulting in powerful new public resources. Despite real success in the open access movement, most scholarly research is unavailable, either for study or for processing by software.

    Open access: what it is

    According to the Budapest open access initiative, “There are many degrees and kinds of wider and easier access to this literature. By ‘open access' to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the …

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