What defines an Open Access publication?

Briefly, Open Access means that online access to the information is unrestricted and free of charge. More thoroughly, an Open Access Publication or Service is one that meets the following two conditions:

  1. The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship[2], as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.

  2. A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission as stated above, in a suitable standard electronic format is deposited immediately upon initial publication in at least one online repository that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving (for the biomedical sciences, PubMed Central is such a repository).
Adapted from the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, June 20, 2003

Further Reading
For more information on the concepts of open access documents, please see the following articles.

Selected Open Access Resources

  • Association of American University Presses - Statement on Open Access
  • BioMed Central - Digital repository of open access publications including journals across all biomedical fields - from basic life sciences to clinical medicine. All original research articles are peer reviewed and, if published, made immediately and freely available through BioMed Central. Macalester participates with other liberal arts colleges around the country to receive access to BioMed Central.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) - Provides access to over 800 free, full text scientific and scholarly journals covering a variety of disciplines and languages. Included journals must exercise a peer-review or editorial quality control publishing model. Lund University Libraries, Open Society Institute (OSI), and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).
  • Open Archives Initiative (OAI) - The Open Archives Initiative develops and promotes interoperability standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content. The Open Archives Initiative has its roots in an effort to enhance access to e-print archives as a means of increasing the availability of scholarly communication.
  • PLoS (Public Library of Science) - Non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. Provides original published reports of ideas, discoveries, and research results in the life sciences and medicine. Currently includes the PLoS Biology journal with the PLoS Medicine journal becoming available in Fall, 2004. Macalester is a participant.
  • Scirus - Comprehensive science-specific search engine that enables users to find scientific, scholarly, technical and medical data on the Web. Designed to find the latest reports, peer-reviewed articles and journals deep within Web sites. filters out non-scientific sites.
  • SHERPA: Securing a Hybrid Environment for Research Preservation and Access. Located in the UK, a resource for information on open access publishing, copyright issues and self-archiving.
  • Romeo - a list of publishers copyright and self-archiving policies. Look for "green" publishers who allow authors to retain self-archiving privileges.

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