This is a library for a generation that understands knowledge, values and ethics are the basis for the development of a more inclusive society
Teresa e Alexandre Soares dos Santos
Open Access to publications means that research publications like articles and books can be accessed online, free of charge by any user, with no technical obstacles (such as mandatory registration, the use of proprietary software or login to specific platforms). At the very least, such publications can be read online, downloaded and printed.
After the Second World War, many of the scientific discoveries, which were previously disseminated through non-profit publishers (usually scientific societies) began to be published through large commercial publishers. Then, in the 1970s, this oligopoly was further reinforced by the creation of the Journal Impact Factor (JIF), in which articles were considered more or less relevant depending on the journal in which they were published.
From the 1980s onwards, access to scientific publications became more limited, because, with the increase in the price of journals, far beyond inflation, universities and research centres were overloaded, which culminated in the “Serials Crisis”. Another important factor to be considered at this time was the great advance in information and communication technologies that enabled other business models for the for-profit publishing conglomerates commonly named among academic librarians as “Big Deal Packages” (Cassady; Johnson; Ivanov, 2020).
With the promise of increasing the diversity of titles in the collections publishers began offering bundled subscriptions to e-journals for a fixed annual fee. However, in addition to not allowing each library to subscribe only to the titles that interested, but to the whole package, prices continued to rise at a rate double that of inflation.
Taking advantage of the possibilities generated by computers and networks, the open access movement arises to explore new publishing models from the understanding that research contributions should be considered a public good (European Commission, 2019).
Ideally, additional rights such as the right to copy, distribute, search, link, crawl and mine should also be provided. Open Access can be fulfilled through two main non-exclusive routes:
Over the years, several initiatives that aim to create and support the Open Science Ecosystem have emerged, many of which are listed in our Open Science timeline. However, it is necessary to detail four of the most important for advancing open access to scientific publications:
Open Access (OA) publication is essential in scholarly communication in a digital setting, and science related agencies are implementing policies that support the transition to new publishing models. Research funders, including FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia) the main Portuguese public agency supporting science, technology, and innovation, have made OA publication a requirement.
FCT’s policy is available since May 2014.
“The core of the policy on open access to publications arising from FCT-funded research is that all publications of research outputs, subject to peer-review or another form of scientific review, should be deposited in one of the open access repositories hosted within RCAAP as soon as possible, preferably immediately on acceptance for publication. An embargo period is allowed, after which the full content of the publications should be made freely available, at no cost. The policy applies to papers in scientific journals, conference proceedings, posters, books and book chapters, monographs, Masters and PhD theses. FCT funding encompasses project grants, studentships and fellowships, career development contracts (FCT Investigator)”.
– FCT Open Access Policy (PT)
Since BOAI, some scientific publishers – under pressure from the academic community – began to adopt some of the Open Access components. However, some predatory practices began to spread, including launching a journal as open access and changing licenses when achieving the desired visibility and impact. Furthermore, it is necessary to differentiate open and free and this difference is essentially related to its nature, as an open journal will remain open, whereas a free journal may become paid. The figure below illustrates some of the levels of openness:
The open access movement to scientific publications brought several discussions to the fore, such as the business model practised by scientific publishers, the availability and preservation of research data, the metrics used to define publication quality and the process of peer review. It is in this context that a new peer review model called Open Peer Review was proposed.
According to Ross-Hellauer (2017), an Open Peer Review (OPR) process can increase transparency, accountability and inclusiveness, as well as provide greater flexibility to the traditional peer review model. The author defines OPR as “an umbrella term for a number of overlapping ways that peer review models can be adapted in line with the aims of Open Science, including making reviewer and author identities open, publishing review reports and enabling greater participation in the peer review process” and lists as the main traits of open peer review: open identities, open reports, open participation, open interaction, open peer-review manuscripts, open final-version commenting and open platforms.
For more details click here.
Regarding the author’s rights over their publications, it is important to highlight the difference between moral and patrimonial rights. Moral rights are about the recognition of the authorship of the work and they are perpetual, inalienable and imprescriptible. Patrimonial rights also referred to as “economic rights”, can be transferred to another person or institution, complying with the legislation in force which regulates the use, reproduction, commercialization and all the economic benefits derived from the work.
It is very common that the author waives their economic rights when publishing their work in major scientific journals. However, what authors often do not realize is that the result of their scientific work published in these journals will be restricted to people and institutions that pay for it. That is, it is possible that the very institution that financed the development of the research will have to pay again to have access to its results.
In order to help authors overcome legal barriers in sharing knowledge and art, Creative Commons (CC) has developed a series of licenses and tools that allow individuals or organizations to choose how their works can be used. The main licenses are illustrated in the figure below:
Click here to know more about Creative Commons.
Over the last years, several platforms that make copies of books, articles and other academic content available have emerged. However, these platforms often violate copyright laws. So it is important to point out that the routes proposed by the Open Access Movement respect the author’s rights, either encouraging publication in open scientific journals or depositing pre-print versions in open repositories.