Open Access Policy

This journal provides direct open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports greater global exchange of knowledge.

This journal is an open access journal, which means that all content is available free of charge for users or/institutions. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to full text articles in this journal without seeking prior permission from the publisher or author. This corresponds to the Open Access Initiative

Open Access Initiative Budapest

Old traditions and new technologies have come together to bring about unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish their research results in scientific journals without payment, for the sake of investigation and knowledge. The new technology is the internet. The public good they create is the electronic distribution of peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds. Removing barriers to access to this literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature useful, and lay the foundations for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.

For various reasons, this free and unrestricted online availability, which we call open access, has so far been limited to a small minority of journal literature. But even within these limited collections, many different initiatives have demonstrated that open access is economically viable, which gives readers tremendous power to find and use relevant literature, and gives authors and their work new broad and measurable visibility, readership, and impact. To secure this benefit for all, we call on all interested institutions and individuals to help open up access to the rest of this literature and remove barriers, especially price barriers, that get in the way. The more that join the effort to advance this goal, the sooner we will all enjoy the benefits of open access.

Literature that should be freely accessible online is literature that scholars give to the world without expecting payment. Basically, this category includes their peer-reviewed journal articles, but also includes unreviewed preprints they may want to put online for comment or to alert colleagues of important research findings. There are many degrees and types of wider and easier access to this literature. By "open access" to this literature we mean its free availability on the public internet, which enables any user to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full text of these articles, browse them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without any financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inherent in gaining access to the internet itself. The sole constraints on reproduction and distribution, and the sole role of copyright in this domain, must give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

Although peer-reviewed journal literature should be accessible online at no cost to readers, it does cost money to produce it. However, experiments show that the overall costs of providing open access to this literature are much lower than those of traditional forms of dissemination. With the opportunity to save money and simultaneously expand the scope of dissemination, there are now strong incentives for professional associations, universities, libraries, foundations and others to embrace open access as a means of furthering their mission. Achieving open access will require new cost recovery models and financing mechanisms, but the much lower overall cost of deployment is reason to believe that the goal is achievable and not simply frowned upon or utopian.

To achieve open access to scientific journal literature, we recommend two complementary strategies.

I. Self-Archiving: First, scholars need tools and assistance to save their reference journal articles in open electronic archives, a practice commonly called self-archiving. If this archive complies with the standards established by the Open Archives Initiative, then search engines and other tools can treat the separate archives as a single entity. The user then doesn't need to know which archives exist or where they are located to find and utilize their contents.

II. Open Access Journals: Second, scholars need a means to launch a new generation of journals committed to open access, and to assist existing journals that choose to make the transition to open access. Because journal articles had to be as widely distributed as possible, these new journals no longer used copyright to limit access to and use of the material they published. Instead, they will use copyright and other tools to ensure permanent open access to all articles they publish. Since price is a barrier to access, the new journal will not charge subscription or access fees, and will turn to other methods to cover their expenses. There are many alternative sources of funding for this purpose, including foundations and governments that fund research, universities and laboratories that employ researchers, endowments set up by disciplines or institutions, friends of open access causes, profits from selling add-ons to basic texts, funds released by the shutdown or cancellation of journals that charge subscription fees or traditional access, or even contributions from the researchers themselves. There is no need to favor one of these solutions over another for all disciplines or countries, and there is no need to stop looking for other creative alternatives.

The goal is to open access to peer-reviewed journal literature. Self-archiving (I.) and the new generation of open access journals (II.) are ways to achieve this goal. They are not only a direct and effective means of achieving this goal, they are also within reach of scholars themselves, immediately, and do not have to wait for changes brought about by markets or legislation. While we support the two strategies just outlined, we also encourage experimentation with further ways to transition from current to open access methods of deployment. Flexibility, experimentation and adaptation to local circumstances are the best ways to ensure that progress in a variety of settings is fast, safe and long-lasting.

The Open Society Institute, a network of foundations founded by philanthropist George Soros, is committed to providing seed assistance and funding to achieve this goal. It will use its resources and influence to expand and promote institutional self-filing, to launch new open access journals, and to help open access journal systems become economically self-sufficient. Despite the Open Society Institute's enormous commitment and resources, this initiative urgently needs other organizations to give their efforts and resources.

We invite governments, universities, libraries, journal editors, publishers, foundations, societies of learning, professional associations, and individual scholars who share our vision to join us in the task of breaking down barriers to open access and building a future where research and education in every part of the world are far more free to thrive.

14 February 2002
Budapest, Hungary

Leslie Chan: Bioline International
Darius Cuplinskas: Director, Information Program, Open Society Institute
Michael Eisen: Public Library of Science
Fred Friend: Director of Scholarly Communication, University College London
Yana Genova: Next Page Foundation
Jean-Claude Guédon: University of Montreal
Melissa Hagemann: Program Officer, Information Program, Open Society Institute
Stevan Harnad: Professor of Cognitive Science, University of Southampton, Universite du Quebec a Montreal
Rick Johnson: Director, Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)
Rima Kupryte: Open Society Institute
Manfredi La Manna: Electronic Society for Social Scientists
István Rév: Open Society Institute, Open Society Archives
Monika Segbert: eIFL Project consultant
Sidnei de Souza: Informatics Director at CRIA, Bioline International
Peter Suber: Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College & The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter
Jan Velterop: Publisher, BioMed Central