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A Decade of Open Access (And the Challenges Ahead)
February 16, 2012
Ten years ago this week, the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) was released to the public. This seminal document explained how technology could revolutionize academic publishing, and defined "open access" as the free and unrestricted availability of peer-reviewed journal literature online. Perhaps most importantly, the BOAI laid out a strategy for making open access a reality. In the decade since its publication, the 13 original signatories behind the initiative have been joined by a still-growing collection of over 5500 individuals and 600 organizations. The history of the movement goes deeper, of course, and is intertwined with that of the Internet; given the academic roots of the Internet and the World Wide Web, that connection is hardly a surprise. Tim Berners-Lee's announcement introducing the Web stated that the Web "project started with the philosophy that much academic information should be freely available to anyone." Academics newly connecting to the network intuitively understood the appeal of online publication, and the first major collection of self-archived papers, arXiv.org, appeared a full decade before the BOAI in 1991. But BOAI marked a crucial turning point. In the years since, the open access movement has established itself as a real force in academia. Not only have programs like MIT's OpenCourseWare brought the idea of openly sharing educational resources into the mainstream, but prominent universities like Harvard have instituted policies to mandate open access for newly published research. And the National Institute of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy has been another major success story: it requires that scientists whose receive public funds for their research publish final manuscripts of their articles to their archive, PubMed Central, within a year of acceptance for publication. These programs have been major boons to the academic community and the general public, providing greater distribution for authors and...
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