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What Is Open Access?

Like “public access,” “open access” is not clearly defined, and it is often used interchangeably with public access. Many open access initiatives maintain that open access is a fundamental precept of scholarly communication. MLA supports the concept of open access to information generated from federally funded scientific and medical research, and maintains that having access to timely, relevant, and accurate information is vital to the health of our nation and its education and research programs. According to Peter Suber, an independent policy strategist for open access to scientific and scholarly research literature, open access “literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” Suber maintains that true open access involves removal of price barriers and permission barriers; however, it has become acceptable to use the term "open access" when only the price barriers have been removed and the permission barriers remain.

Further definitions have been established in three different declarations that are referred to as the “BBB Declarations”: the Declaration of Budapest, the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, and the Berlin Declaration.

Also see MLA's web pages on the NIH Public Access Policy for additional information.

Open Access (OA) Publishers and OA Initiatives

  • The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities: In line with the Bethesda Principles, this document was signed by heads of numerous European research organizations and funding bodies.
  • Bethesda Principles: Statements of principle drafted by representatives from institutions, funding agencies, libraries, publishers, scientists, and scientific societies.
  • Bioline International: Bioline International is a publishing service that provides open access to quality research journals published in developing countries.
  • BioMed Central: BioMed Central is committed to providing immediate and free access to all the research they publish. To meet the cost of publishing, authors who publish in its open access journals are asked to pay an article-processing charge per published paper.
  • BioOne: BioOne is the product of innovative collaboration between scientific societies, libraries, academe and the private sector. Most of BioOne’s titles are published by small societies and other not-for-profit organizational publishers, and, until now, have been available only in printed form. BioOne provides integrated, cost-effective full-text access to high impact interrelated journals focused on the biological, ecological and environmental sciences.
  • Budapest Open Access Initiative: This initiative seeks to accelerate progress in the international effort to make research articles in all academic fields freely available on the Internet.
  • Hindawi Publishing Corporation: Hindawi is a rapidly growing academic publisher with more than one hundred open access journals covering all major areas of science, technology, and medicine, and a book publishing program that spans all scholarly disciplines.
  • NAS (National Academy of Sciences): The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research and dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology by the publication and free access to journal content, books, and biographical memoirs.
  • PLoS (Public Library of Science): PLoS is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to publishing under an open access license that allows unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
  • Other Open Access Initiatives: A listing of international open access initiatives provided by the Budapest Initiative.

Open Access Resources

For further information, contact Mary Langman, 312.419.9094 x27.