Making Open Access (OA) a reality has proved considerably more difficult and time consuming than OA advocates expected when they started out. It is now 19 years since cognitive scientist Stevan Harnad posted his Subversive Proposal calling on researchers to make their papers freely available on the Web; and it is nearly 12 years since those who took part in the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) coined the term Open Access, and agreed on a definition.
However, few now doubt that OA is inevitable, and a number of developments this year have served to confirm that. In February, for instance, the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published a memorandum on public access in which it directed federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication. Then last month agreement was finally reached in Europe on the details of the next EU research programme. Amongst other things, this will require that papers arising from research the EU funds will have to be made OA. And two weeks ago G8 science ministers issued a joint endorsement of the need to increase access to publicly-funded research. In the meantime, OA mandates continue to be introduced by research funders around the world, including recently in Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Iceland, and Australia. In addition, of course, on April 1st Research Councils UK (RCUK) introduced its highly controversial new OA policy, a policy that sparked a great deal of bad-tempered wrangling, and led to two inquires (here and here) and the publication of a number of clarifications. Yet many continue to have serious doubts about the policy, and fear its likely consequences. Indeed, opinions on the best way forward for OA remain generally divided. So where is OA right now, what still needs to be done, and what should be the priorities going forward?
Via Florence Piron