Open access resources
Journal price inflation, particularly over the last decade, has led to cuts in subscriptions by academic libraries in order to keep within their budgets. This has reduced the potential for the sharing of research outcomes amongst researchers world wide.
Recent years have seen a major global movement develop to minimise these access barriers, encouraged by the opportunities that internet technologies bring.
It is felt by many that publically funded research should be easily available, not only to other researchers but also to members of the public. This belief is being reflected in grant conditions specified by various funding bodies, notably The Welcome Institute and most of the Research Councils in the UK. These bodies are stipulating that individuals in receipt of research grants must deposit their research results in freely available research repositories, either discipline based or institutional.
Research repositories, also known as open archives, may include theses,
research papers, conference papers and books. Research articles can be deposited as
pre-prints, post-prints or both. These repositories should comply with the OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting) protocol so that documents can be located from any internet access point.
Directories exist to facilitate access to all repositories wherever they are based and whatever the subject.
Individual publishers have policies regarding whether they
will allow researchers to deposit papers in open archives in addition
to being published in their own traditional journals. Please follow
this link to find a list of publishers and their policies towards open access publishing.
There are two categories of archive: subject based and institutional.
Subject based repositories
Subject repositories are organised around a discipline so
will contain research material from a number of different institutions.
A major example of a repository of full-text life science articles (nearly 1,800,000) is hosted by Highwire Press, a division of Stanford University Libraries in the USA.
Other examples include:
Cogprints Cognitive sciences
Institutional archives contain research material which
will normally have been self-archived by the individual researchers
involved. Universities across the world are setting up their own
repositories so that the output of their researchers can be made
available to anyone.
Directories exist so that research papers can be identified wherever they are housed. The major ones are:
- OpenDOAR Directory of Open Access Repositories
Tools exist in order to search these Open Access repositories. The major examples are:
Google Scholar will also retrieve scholarly papers from open access repositories and OpenDOAR has set up a trial search service to the archives listed within its directory.
Open access journals
The other main vehicle for reducing the barriers to research results has been the introduction of online open access journals. Unlike the traditional system of financing journals, the costs are not paid by the reader (or the library) thus maximising access.
An important point is that peer review is maintained.
For a brief but comprehensive introduction to the subject of open access please read Peter Suber's A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access
For Peter Suber's more detailed description, see Open Access Review
If you want information on Peter Suber, please follow this link