1.3 History of Open Access

The origin of open access movement can be traced back to 1960s with the launch of Project Guttenburg by Michel Hart. It is deemed as the first main milestone of the movement. Emergence of OA journals formally is attributed to the later part of 1980s with publication of the journal 'Psycoloquy' as a free online journal by Stevan Harnad in 1989. In the same year another journal 'Computer Systems Review' was published as a free online journal. The progress of the OA movement is directly related to advances in the Internet. In November 1991 Tim Bernes Lee published the World Wide Web which was to revolutionize the way information would be hosted and accessed. The first OA peer reviewed journal appeared in 1990 when the journal 'Psycoloquy' transformed into its peer reviewed content. This was quickly followed by other peer reviewed journals such as Electronic Journal of Communication, Journal of Postmodern Culture and Surfaces. A paradigmatic shift in publishing practice was heralded with the concept of self archiving proposed by Stevan Harnad in 1994. Self archiving is described as act of depositing a free copy of an electronic document on the world wide web in order to provide open access to it” (Harnad, 2001). Self archiving by authors brought about a huge change in the manner in which primary information in the form of scholarly publication could reach the end users surpassing all barriers with the WWW being the key facilitator for hosting, searching, retrieving and access mechanisms. Self archiving was first explicitly suggested by Steven Harnad in his online posting "Subversive Proposal" (Okerson & O'Donnell, 1995). However, it was discovered that the community of physicists were practicing self archiving a few years before the term was coined. Developed by Paul Ginsparg in 1991 ArXiv1 is an open access repository of preprints in physics which later expanded to include other related domains such as astronomy, computer science and mathematics among others. Self archiving lead to repositories, which at first started as collections of digital documents, but later transformed as publishing models for academics. The major fillip came from the US National Science Foundation funded Digital Library Initiative2 which led to six major digital library projects in phase I and several others in phase II. The tools for hosting digital libraries also provided workflows for publishing, including the peer review process. One of the major advantages was the much shorter time taken for publishing an article compared to the time taken by traditional journal publishers. The other major advantage being the instant visibility of resources through metadata that facilitated their discovery easily. The open access movement itself in a way strengthened due the proliferation of repositories in different domains and culture of academics shifting to consider repositories and online publishing medium as an alternative to traditional publishing through journal publishing houses. Gradually institutional level policies were pronounced that included open access publishing as a requirement of public funding for projects and research. One of the first moves was by the U.S. National Library of Medicine that made Medline a bibliographic index to medical literature accessible freely as PubMed. This was instantly recognized and used by practitioners as well as public, increasing the visibility of the database, positively impacting its use factor by several folds. PLoS, Public Library of Science3 was founded in 2000 with a letter that urged scientific community especially medical publishers to make research literature available for distribution through free online public access archives. Nearly 34000 scientists from 180 nations joined in support of the idea. OA awareness and advocacy spread across countries and continents. Several conferences and seminars deliberated on the issues and methods of OA. The efforts and thoughts can be summarized by three popular public statements on international platform. These are, the Budapest Open Access Initiative (February 2002), the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (June 2003), and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (October 2003). OA activists emphasize that- publicly funded research must be made freely publicly available. OA was at first viewed with skepticism. However, it is slowly but surely gaining ground. Many traditional for-profit publishing houses have given in and declared their own open access policies. For example: Elsevier has 2 distinct types of licenses.

They are:

1) Author Agreement: Elsevier has the right to publish and distribute an article but at the same time authors retain copyright in their article.

2) User license: Articles published under an Elsevier user license are protected by copyright and may be used for non-commercial purposes. Users may access, download, copy, display, redistribute, adapt, translate, text mine and data mine the articles.

After an embargo period these publishers allow the authors to self archive and some also completely grant copyright to the author. Other publishers only require signing non-exclusive rights contracts which allows the authors to retain their rights over their work. OA movement has strengthened and its success is marked by OA mandating by governments, funding agencies, international bodies, associations and organizations. For example:

1) US Government Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) memorandum directs “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 and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research.”

2) ICAR(Indian Council of Agricultural Research) adopts the policy that “the authors of the scholarly literature produced from the research funded in whole or part by the ICAR or by other Public Funds at ICAR establishments are required to deposit the final version of the author's peer-reviewed manuscript in the ICAR institute’s Open Access Institutional Repository”.

3) European Commission’s FP7 grant recipients in seven areas (energy, environment, health, information and communication technologies [only cognitive systems, interaction, and robotics], research infrastructures [only e-infrastructures], science in society, and socioeconomic sciences and humanities) have to deposit peer-reviewed research articles or final manuscripts resulting from their FP7 projects into an online repository.

Last modified: Tuesday, 13 April 2021, 10:56 AM