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What is Open Access?

To have a better understanding of what open access is and is not, it is important to understand the idea behind the concept.
Public bookcase on the street
© This work by Jessika Rücknagel is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

To have a better understanding of what open access is and is not, it is important to understand the idea behind the concept.

Open access is a publishing model that grants free access to scholarly information on the internet. Considering that scholarly research is for the most part publicly funded, it is absolutely reasonable to make research results publicly accessible.

The Open Definition also applies to the “open” in open access, which means “anyone can freely access, use, modify, and share for any purpose” the content.

This means that everyone can permanently access the information at no cost and without legal or technical barriers. This includes different types of publications or materials, such as texts, data, audiovisual materials, software etc. Nonetheless, in the early years of the open access movement a focus on text publications, especially on journal articles, was set.

One distinctive facet is the several variations of the term, which are sometimes colour-coded. These variations allow for different methods of making scholarly information freely available to the public.

Key concepts behind the idea of open access are the following:

  • permanent, free access for everyone from anywhere in the world, via the internet,
  • clearly regulated rights of use,
  • control over the works remains with authors,
  • faster and more independent dissemination of scholarly findings.

Closely related to free accessibility is the possibility of unrestricted reuse of the published information. This allows others to build on the findings much more efficiently, facilitating innovation and progress while still being credited for your own work. Creative Commons licences are predominantly used for granting and labelling rights for open access publications. Unfortunately, not every open access publication can be released under a Creative Commons licence, as we will learn at a later stage.

© This work by Jessika Rücknagel is licensed under CC BY 4.0.
This article is from the free online

Openness in Science and Innovation

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