On every continent the open access agenda is changing the way in which research results are published.
A whistle-stop tour of the open world…
South and Central America
The South and Central America region is, in many ways, an international leader in open access through initiatives such as SciELO and RedALyC which support open access journals with a global reach. They have been established for many years and are important resources for research. More recently, the LA REFERENCiA network of institutional repositories has joined them, enabling green open access to flourish in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela.
The situation in the US is dominated at the policy level by the requirement, from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for large federal agencies to support open access. Publishers have responded by launching the CHORUS initiative, which proposes a publisher-based service for those agencies. Universities have launched SHARE, based on institutional systems, which will have broader applicability, for example covering research data.
Meanwhile, open access grows on the ground through initiatives such as the National Institutes of Health PubMedCentral repository. PubMedCentral Canada has also taken off and three of the major research funders are currently consulting on a proposed new open access policy.
Open access is particularly important in Africa, but carries specific challenges. For example, the nature of connectivity is different; while wired networks are relatively rare, Wi-Fi and mobile phone coverage are often good so access via mobile devices is key. Some 16 organisations in Africa have open access policies, mainly in Kenya and South Africa, and mainly universities rather than research funders or government agencies.
Chinese research is growing in quantity and quality; between 2003 and 2012 the proportion of Chinese papers in the Science Citation Index grew from 5.6% to 13.9%. The Chinese Premier has argued that all scientific information created with public funding should be openly accessible to the whole of society to support innovation and development. Agencies such as the Chinese Academy of Science are actively implementing this ideal.
In Japan, there has been less government involvement, and a more bottom-up approach through both open access journals and repositories supported by the National Institute of Informatics.
In Australia, several major funders have mandated open access, most recently the National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian universities have set up the Australian Open Access Support Group, to promote and enable open access.
Both the European Commission and European Research Council require the research that they fund to be made open access through repositories – online institutional archives. Policies at a national level vary in their emphasis on open access through repositories or through open access journals, with the governments in the UK and the Netherlands focusing on the latter.
The PASTEUR4OA project is analysing the features of effective open access policies to help European countries align their policies and provide researchers in the European Research Area with a more consistent working environment. Europe PubMedCentral is a key open access resource in the life sciences, like its counterparts in the US and Canada.
Two models for global access
Wherever you are in the world two main models for open access dominate debates about research publication.
- Gold open access: "pay to publish" rather than "pay to read", so the journal is paid to peer review, edit and publish a paper. It's freely available for all to read rather than only being accessible in a subscription journal.
- Green open access: parallel publishing in subscription journal and deposit into an open access institutional or subject repository.
We have a wide range of resources to explain open access and support development of open access policies. You can find them here.
This article originally featured in issue 40 of Jisc Inform (via the Wayback Machine).