Open Access has been described as everything from a business model to a movement. Join Roy Kaufman as he provides a quick but informative overview about Open Access and its impact on the availability and use of valuable content.

Open Access has been described as everything from a business model to a movement, and it generally involves the ability of users to access articles in full text from the open web, without the necessity of having to pay a license fee, a pay-per-use fee, or other provide information before being able to access the article.

There are some definitions of open access that also include licensing. Some people will define open access as requiring that the article have a license which allows people to reuse the work, make derivatives of the work, mine the work, and do other things without the permission from the original author, always so long as attribution is used. Others have less expansive versions, and generally view things to be open access so long as a user can get to it.

At a recent event called the Open Scholarship Initiative, which was sponsored by the United Nations, I participated in a panel which was out there to define “open.” Now, it was more than just open access because it was about open scholarship, and in that group, we defined openness as a continuum of various attributes. Those attributes include things not just involving reuse rights, but…

  • How open is the peer review?
  • Is the underlying data made openly available?
  • Is it searchable?
  • Is it able to be linked to on the web?
  • Can people find it?
  • Can people use it?
  • Is the sponsorship of the underlying research disclosed in a clear and concise way?

So, the moment you start talking about openness, there are a whole lot of other attributes beyond just being able to access the document, which we would all agree is the fundamental baseline, and other attributes such as the ones I’ve mentioned.

There are also several other flavors of open access which are often known as Gold Road and Green Road. Those terms can be really confusing, but the simplest way to think about it, particularly if you’re a user or author, is under the Gold Road, the article is published upon the payment of a fee to a publisher, and the article, the version of record, is then available to everyone.

Under the Green Road, which is favored by some governments under mandates, the version of record isn’t generally made available. It’s a version of the article that’s made available prior to publication. So, it might not have copyediting, links, pagination, and a lot of the value-add that publishers put on. When you access articles thus, particularly if you’re in a repository and not on a publisher’s website, you do want to check, is this the version of record or some other version, the submitted version or the accepted version, or even a version that’s been modified since publication.

Now, I realize I’ve just thrown a million concepts at you, and all of these concepts are not just complicated but often subject to dispute. So what I’ll recommend, as I often do, is some links where you can get more information.



Author: Roy Kaufman

Roy Kaufman is Managing Director of both Business Development and Government Relations for CCC. He is a member of, among other things, the Bar of the State of New York, the Author’s Guild, and the editorial board of UKSG Insights. Kaufman also advises the US Government on international trade matters through membership in International Trade Advisory Committee (ITAC) 13 – Intellectual Property and the Library of Congress’s Copyright Public Modernization Committee. He serves on the Executive Committee of the of the United States Intellectual Property Alliance (USIPA) Board. He was the founding corporate Secretary of CrossRef, and formerly chaired its legal working group. He is a Chef in the Scholarly Kitchen and has written and lectured extensively on the subjects of copyright, licensing, open access, artificial intelligence, metadata, text/data mining, new media, artists’ rights, and art law. Kaufman is Editor-in-Chief of "Art Law Handbook: From Antiquities to the Internet" and author of two books on publishing contract law. He is a graduate of Brandeis University and Columbia Law School.
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