The Very Slow and Steady March of Open Access

"The Open Access movement is approaching its 20th anniversary and while some folks doubted that it would last, is has grown steadily over the last 19 years and has been marching to its own beat and that beat has been adopted by the scholarly publishing community." 

The Open Access movement began when UK based BioMed Central launched the first Open Access Journals Genome Biology and the Journal of Biology in 1999.  These Open Access Journals were joined by PLOS in 2003 with the launch of PLOS Biology. PLOS was initiated when Nobel Prize winner Harold Varmus, the former director of the National Institutes of Health and at that time director of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and his colleagues Patrick O. Brown, biochemist at Stanford University and Michael Eisen, computational biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory delivered an online petition in 2000 asking scientist to pledge that from 2001 they would discontinue submission of papers to journals that did not make their articles freely accessible immediately upon publication or no later than 6 months after publication.

From its humble beginnings, according to Directory of Open Access Journals, the number of Open Access journals has grown to 12,164! 9,000+ journals are searchable at the article level and it contains 3,392,922 articles from 12 countries!

As the Open Access movement has grown, many definitions and types of Open Access have developed.  Let’s review the Open Access options that exist.

  • Green – refers to self-archiving of the pre or post-print in repositories
  • Gold – refers to articles in fully accessible open access journals
  • Hybrid – sometimes called Paid Open Access, refers to subscription journals with open access to individual articles usually when a fee is paid to the publisher or journal by the author, the author's organization, or the research funder.[1]
  • Platinum- "Platinum OA" means that the publication is openly available to readers from the publisher's site (just as in Gold OA) and that no fees have to be paid on the side of the authors (just as in "Green OA").[2]

Since the launch of the Open Access journals a number of funders have emerged to pay their Article Processing Fees.  Article Processing Fees can range from $8 - $3,300.00 according to American Journal Experts.[3]

The list of potential funders has grown tremendously as detailed in InTechOpen’s website.  These funders are providing deposit accounts at all of the major publishers.   These deposit accounts have grown significantly as well, and it is helping researchers to get their research published.  Recently Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, and Marc Schiltz, President of Science Europe met to discuss their plan to have all publicly funded research to be completely Open Access beginning in 2020.  The plan is known as  “Plan S”.  The International Association of STM Publishers have issued their statement on “Plan S”.  Here is an excerpt from the statement.

“Publishers support a move towards full and immediate access to research publications where this is desired, but urge that this needs to be fully funded; in the absence of adequate funding a transition to Open Access as envisaged by Coalition S is unlikely to happen in practice.”

The march to open access now includes books.  InTechOpen is the world’s largest Open Access Book publisher in the world.  Over the last couple of years, a number of publishers have joined in the Open Access Book movement.  The Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) details that there are 12952 Academic peer-reviewed books and chapters from 282 publishers.

Now there is the Open Science movement that is helping researchers to collaborate, cooperate and communicate with their fellow researchers.  Leading the way is the Center for Open Science established in 2014.  The mission of COS is “Our mission is to increase openness, integrity and reproducibility of research.”  This movement has spread globally has COS has hundreds of COS Ambassadors.

The Open Access movement is approaching its 20th anniversary and while some folks doubted that it would last, is has grown steadily over the last 19 years and has been marching to its own beat and that beat has been adopted by the scholarly publishing community.  We can not predict how Open Access will evolve but we do know that it will evolve to ensure that it achieves its mission of providing the research community to quality peer reviewed and editor managed content.  The very slow and steady march of Open Access will continue!

 


[1]  Types of OA