What is Open Access (OA) ?

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Open Access (OA) is free, immediate, permanent online access to the full text of research articles for anyone, web wide. Open access helps to ensure long-term access to not only scholarly articles but also an attempt to access royalties, such as, music, movies, books etc. In general, Open Access (OA) publications are those made freely available online to anyone anywhere, with almost no charges imposed for access.

According to Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) the concept of Open Access refers to; “World-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature, completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds.”

The Bethesda Statement’ (2003) defines; “Open access, where “The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use”.

The Berlin Declaration on OA to knowledge put it as: “For a work to be OA, the copyright holder must consent in advance to let users “copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship.”

Peter Suber (2010) describes, “Open-access literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions”. Suber also states that open access contents are not restricted only to peer-reviewed research articles; they can be in any formats from texts and data to software, audio, video, and multi-media. Although the OA movement focuses on peer-reviewed research articles and their preprints, OA can also apply to non-scholarly content, like music, movies, and novels, even if these are not the focus of most OA activists .

Commonly known as the three Bs, the Budapest, Berlin, and Bethesda public statements represent the most highly regarded definitions of OA, and all agree on the essentials. Though differing slightly, the statements essentially note that OA allows users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full text of works, permitting use for any lawful purpose, as long as Internet access to the material is possible. The three legs of the BBB definition go beyond removing price barriers to removing permission barriers, or beyond gratis OA to libre OA. But at the same time, all three allow at least one limit on user freedom: an obligation to attribute the work to the author.

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