Open Access Movement

The Idea behind Open Access

The Open Society Institute (OSI) met on December 1-2, 2001 to find ways to accelerate progress in the international effort to make research articles in all academic fields freely available on the internet. They explored how OSI and other foundations could use their resources most productively to aid the transition to open access and to make open-access publishing economically self-sustaining.

The result is the Budapest Open Access Initiative:

"An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good"

  • old tradition = the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment, for the sake of inquiry and knowledge
  • new technology = internet
  • unprecedented public good = world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds  

The initiative has been signed by the Budapest participants and a growing number of individuals and organizations from around the world who represent researchers, universities, laboratories, libraries, foundations, journals, publishers, learned societies, and kindred open-access initiatives.  

All individuals and organizations, and especially universities around the world are invited to sign on the initiative.


Open Access is a publishing model which allows readers to access scientific publications online and free of charge. Open Access removes price and permission barriers: there are no subscription fees, and unrestricted use of all published material is made possible thanks to flexible intellectual property laws for authors.

It is important to note:

Open Access is compatible with copyright, peer review, revenue (even profit), print, preservation, prestige, quality, career-advancement, indexing, and other features and supportive services associated with conventional scholarly literature. The primary difference is that the bills are not paid by readers and hence do not function as access barriers.
-- Peter Suber

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.
-- Budapest Initiative

Two Basic Approaches

The goal of the movement is open access to quality scholarly content whether this is achieved by self-archiving, where scholars deposit their referred articles in open electronic archive, or by publishing their article in "new generation" open access journals. Thus, two strategies to achieve this goal are quite complementary:

Green Road to Open Access: authors perform self-archiving (in a repository) upon publishing a peer-reviewed journal article

Gold Road to Open Access: institutions pay for their authors' gold open access publication fees (Article Processing Charge)

"Most activists refer to OA delivered by journals as gold OA (regardless of the journal's business model), and to OA delivered by repositories as green OA."
-- Peter Suber

Benefits to Community

The scientific community and the whole of society benefits from Open Access.

Comprehensive, fast and efficient research cycles allow scholars to make progress in their careers more effectively thanks to immediate access to new research materials, findings and the latest scientific developments.

At the same time, by providing an information-sharing framework where readers can refer to, distribute or display the work of others, Open Access contributes to the wider dissemination, increased usage and impact of researchers' work.

Open Access brings increased visibility to institutions that fund and supervise research. Universities, institutes, foundations, national funds for scientific research and government agencies all benefit from the increased visibility and higher citation rates of funded projects. Moreover, unrestricted use of and immediate access to free research literature provides a great resource for teaching, conference presentations and lectures, and thus both teaching staff and students benefit highly from it.

Finally, since they are able to connect readers to relevant content and expand their catalogs at no cost, libraries are likely to profit from the favorable opportunities offered by Open Access publishing.