At the end of the last century, the combination of powerful desktop computers with electronic distribution over the internet, prepared the ground for the development of all electronic scientific journals. Today, authors routinely produce what is effectively "camera-ready copy". The rest of the production process is carried out within an all electronic publication system, and the final distribution is on the world-wide-web. Authors and referees generally carry out their work at no charge. These facts provided the stimulus for scientists and institutions to reassess the traditional subscription model of scientific publishing and to come up with a new model appropriate for the digital age; this model has been called Open Access.
In 2002 the Budapest Open Access Initiative was the first major international statement to support Open Access. The Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities followed in 2003. An Open Access publication is one that meets the following two conditions (see Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing):
- 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.
- A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission as stated above, in a suitable standard electronic format is deposited immediately upon initial publication in at least one online repository that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seeks to enable Open Access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving (for the biomedical sciences, PubMed Central is such a repository).
There are two complementary strategies to achieve Open Access to scholarly journal literature (see Budapest Open Access Initiative):
- Self-archiving: In addition to publication in a scholarly journal, the article is deposited by the author in an institutional or central repository. Because of copyright restrictions, it is often not possible for the author to deposit the published article itself in these repositories immediately after publication. As a result many archives contain so-called preprints, which means that the deposited article is the initial form, prior to peer review. Peer-reviewed articles, as published in journals, can generally be deposited in repositories at the earliest 6 or 12 months after publication.
- Open Access journals: Authors who publish an article in an Open Access journal retain copyright of their work and the articles are available free of charge for all readers immediately upon publication. Additionally, the articles are archived in public repositories, which ensures authors worldwide visibility and impact. Many Open Access journals use an "author pays" business model, whereby authors have to pay the publication costs upfront to make the article available to readers worldwide.
Scholarius - About Open Access