What Is Open Access?
"Open access" is free, unrestricted, online access to scientific and scholarly research. There are two primary vehicles for providing open access: open access journals, and open access archives or repositories, such as eScholarship@UMMS.
The purpose of this guide is to provide resources and information to the UMass Medical School community about open access and new models of scholarly publishing.
Read A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access, by open access advocate Peter Suber.
PhD Comics Explains Open Access
8-minute animated video explaining open access and why it's important, from PhD Comics
Facts and Figures (as of March 4, 2013)
(Inspired by Heather Morrison's Dramatic Growth of Open Access Series)
- 8,713 journals
- 1,133 new journals added in 2012 (3 per day)
- 1272 academic peer-reviewed books from 35 publishers
- 2263 academic open access research repositories
PubMed Central (PMC)
- 2.6 million free full-text biomedical and life sciences articles are archived in PubMed Central
Public Library of Science (PLOS)
- Celebrated reaching the 10-year mark as a publisher of open access journals in January 2013
- UMMS authors have published 229 articles in BioMed Central journals
- 600+ scholarly societies publish 700+ open access journals
- 1,160,507 movies
- 113,232 concerts
- 1,546,888 audio recordings
- 3,911,095 texts
- 16,370,108 freely usable media files
In the News
This Nature special issue () looks at the transformation taking place in scientific publishing. (Image credit: Brendan Monroe)
Important News! On February 22, 2013, the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a directive to Federal agencies with more than $100 million in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the results of federally-funded research -- both publications and research data -- publicly available free of charge within 12 months of publication. This development represents years of work by librarians and other advocates. More than 65K people signed an online "We the People" petition about this issue. This directive complements the FASTR (Fair Access to Science and Technology Research) Act recently introduced in both houses of Congress. Read more:
Why Open Access?
- Better visibility and higher impact for scholarship. Research has shown that articles available freely online are more often cited and have greater impact than those not freely available. Alma Swan's Feb. 2010 study, "The Open Access citation advantage: Studies and results to date," summarizes the methodologies and conclusions reached by studies looking at the citation advantage of open access. Summary data indicates a 300-450% increase in citations in Medicine with open access.
- More knowledge leads to better patient outcomes. Opening access to research will allow all doctors access to relevant information for decision making, leading to more effective treatments and better outcomes. Access to medical research is also crucial for patients and patient advocates.
- Return on the public's investment in taxpayer-funded research. Open access allows the public to see the results of that investment.
- To help achieve science's full potential by removing price barriers. With open access, researchers worldwide can read and build on the findings of others without restriction.
- Improved education. Faculty and students will not be limited by the selection of scholarly journals their campus libraries are able to provide.
"Open Access to Scientific Research Can Save Lives": As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a 15-year-old high-school student in Maryland invented a superlative diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer, utilizing open access publications for his research.
"A Story to Tell": Read this short piece that tells the true story of a physician's efforts to nationally distribute an operating room checklist that could potentially save thousands of lives - complicated by the fact that the authors had signed over their copyrights to a publisher.
Generally accepted definitions for a journal article in its various versions as it moves through the publication process:
- Pre-print: Version first submitted to publisher, before peer review
- Post-print: Final version after peer review, AKA "accepted manuscript". This is the version mandated in the NIH public access policy and in most institutional open access mandates.
- Publisher's version/PDF: Copyedited version with publisher's formatting and paging
In the News - Archives
New Open Access Case Reports Journal for the Health Sciences
Wiley has announced that their new open access journal, Clinical Case Reports, is now open for submissions. Clinical Case Reports will provide a place to publish and to read clinical case histories from every clinical discipline including medicine, nursing, dentistry, and veterinary science. The new journal will be fully open access and articles will be free to read, download, and share, and will be deposited in PubMed Central.
Commentary in the February 12, 2013 issue of Scientific American about the publication of the first articles in PeerJ, a new open access scientific publication founded by Peter Binfield (formerly of PLOS) and Jason Hoyt (formerly of Mendeley).
Speaking on January 29, 2013, Sir Tim Berners-Lee said that he believes that the open access movement will eventually defeat publishers who seek to lock scholarly findings behind paywalls.
Many supporters of open access were saddened to hear of the recent death of Internet activist and open access advocate Aaron Swartz (see stories in the New York Times and other publications). Academics around the world paid tribute to Swartz by posting PDFs of their copyrighted works online on Twitter using the hashtag #PDFtribute. Open Access at UMMS details some of the ways the UMMS community supports open access. Information is also available on how to make your publications open access.
An excellent summary by Colin Macilwain of the progress and challenges of the open access movement, published in the January 2013 issue of BioScience.
Now on Twitter
Students and Open Access
The Right to Research Coalition (R2RC), a student organization formed in 2009 with nearly 7 million members, has published a student guide to open access publishing: “Optimize Your Publishing, Maximize Your Impact.” This resource presents students with the ways in which they can make their research openly available for the widest possible readership and lays out the benefits of doing so – both as authors and as readers. This is a great resource for student authors.
Also check out Three Things Students Can Do Now to Promote Open Access from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
NIH Public Access Update
NIH Steps Up Enforcement of Public Access Policy
On November 16, 2012, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it is tightening enforcement of its policy requiring that investigators deposit copies of their papers in a public archive. Starting as soon as next spring, researchers who haven't complied will not receive the next installment of their grant. Read more: