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Backgrounder On Open Access At UNB Libraries

Jocelyne Thompson, Associate Director of Libraries, Collection Services
September 30, 2013

Most Canadian universities have been active on the open access (OA) front for well over a decade. While UNB libraries on both campuses have engaged in various aspects of OA, no steps have been taken to fully articulate or formalize a position. OA has been a topic of discussion at the Information Services and Systems (ISS) Senate Committee in Saint John, and at their March 2013 meeting, the Senate Library Committee on the Fredericton campus agreed to consider the issue in Fall 2013. The libraries’ position is that the best outcome of these deliberations would be a bi-campus policy supporting open access.

Although the following brief overview of OA will undoubtedly give rise to more questions than it answers, its purpose is to provide some background to focus discussion.

For an extremely readable though fairly comprehensive introduction to open access, Peter Suber’s Open Access Overview is highly recommended. A long-time advocate for open access, Suber is currently Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication and is one of OA’s foremost experts.

Another very helpful source of information on OA is Stevan Harnad’s E-Prints website. Dr. Harnad is Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Science at the Université du Québec à Montréal and is a world-leader within the OA movement.

The following focuses on OA as it applies primarily to journal publishing, although OA need not be limited to this type of scholarly literature. As Suber (2013) notes, “OA is not a kind of content. Every kind of digital content can be OA, from texts and data to software, audio, video, and multi-media.” But as he also stresses in his Open Access Overview (2013), most OA advocacy has to date focused on scholarly journal articles which Suber describes as “royalty-free literature”, or “literature that authors give to the world without expectation of payment.” Research data is another type of “royalty-free” content that is gaining significant attention.

What is open access?

Open access is generally understood to mean scholarly literature that is made freely available to the end-user over the internet and is free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. The term was first coined in 2001 by the Budapest Open Access Initiative (See Appendix A.) and is more fully defined in the declaration that emerged from the international meeting of OA proponents:

By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

The open access movement did not start in Budapest—proponents of OA have existed since the emergence of the internet and the World Wide Web—but it is generally agreed that the movement gained momentum as a result of several important initiatives occurring in the early 2000s, including the Budapest OA Initiative itself, followed in 2003 by the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (Appendix B) and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and the Humanities (Appendix C). All of these initiatives called for the reform of scholarly communication, from a “closed” system controlled by commercial publishers, to an “open” system that supports the free flow and exchange of ideas, thereby accelerating the speed and quality of scientific discovery and the transfer of knowledge to the benefit of humanity.

For a selective list of OA milestones, see Appendix D.

How is OA implemented?

There are two major vehicles for the delivery of open access content – OA journals (gold OA) and self-archiving in open digital repositories (green OA). Gold OA typically provides immediate access to content (journal articles primarily), while green OA content may be subject to embargo periods (imposed either by the author or by a commercial publisher). Gold OA has had the benefit of peer-review while green OA content is not necessarily peer-reviewed—in the case of pre-prints—although more and more publishers are allowing the self-archiving of peer-reviewed post-prints.

Although the notion of “free” underpins OA, it is important to note that “free” here refers to redistribution and use (free to the user), not to production which is clearly not free. The idea behind OA is to change the model of funding for the production, distribution and archiving of research results such that the findings are open to the world for reading and reuse. The business models for OA are evolving but the two most widely supported are worth describing here as they have a bearing on the considerations at hand.

Author Pay Publishing (Gold OA): OA journals are frequently funded by the authors themselves who are required to pay a fee (averaging $1500 to $3000) when their article is accepted for publication. The highest quality journals of this type are peer-reviewed although some OA journals are not. Many commercial scholarly publishers, anxious to ensure their survival, have responded to pressure and are offering authors the choice to publish their articles as OA. The article may appear in a subscription-based journal but be itself OA, the publisher charging an author fee to defray the cost of publishing. The latter is known as the hybrid model and has come under heavy criticism as double-dipping on the part of the publishers who have not in most cases adjusted subscription prices to reflect their new revenue-stream. Many academic libraries (some in collaboration with their university research office) have created author funds ranging from as little as $5,000 to as much as $100,000 a year to encourage publishing in OA journals. Many of these have a policy of not supporting publishing in hybrid journals.

Institutional Repositories (Green OA): The notion of self-archiving presupposes the existence of robust, adequately-supported institutional or discipline-based repositories. Such repositories are generally wholly-funded by the home institution of the author or possibly by the society or other organization that operates a subject repository on behalf of its members. All that to say, the author generally bears no upfront cost for self-archiving.

UNB Libraries host such an institutional repository, developed and maintained by the Electronic Text Centre. Launched in 2012, UNB Scholar aims to be the ”…repository for the UNB community to maintain and preserve digital copies of its scholarly papers.” As further stated on the UNB Scholar website, “The repository is an important tool for not just preserving our organization's legacy, but it also facilitates the sharing of digital assets and advancing scholarly communication in an open access environment.” UNB’s UNB Scholar has the potential to highlight the research output of UNB, thereby raising the visibility of the scholarship, the researcher, and the institution. Early studies have suggested that research outputs that are openly accessible through an institutional repository show higher citation rates. (Lawrence, 2001; Gargouri et al, 2010). For more on impact research, see The Open Citation Impact Bibliography at

It is important to note as well that institutional repositories are committed not only to immediate access, but also to the long-term preservation of the scholarly record.

So why are we at UNB discussing open access now?

OA is gaining ground internationally, with the focus largely on publicly-funded research. In Canada, the Tri-Council granting agencies are in the process of elaborating their position on OA, and it is expected that the three will in the near future adopt policies requiring the deposit of research results in OA repositories within a defined time frame. (In fact, CIHR—the Canadian Institutes of Health Research—have had such a policy in place since 2008). The Tri-Council effort to coordinate their policies follows on the heels of new legislation in the United Kingdom and the United States requiring the results of funded research to be placed in open access repositories within six-months-to-one-year after publication. The European Commission has also taken a stand on open access, while Australia shines as an early example of a coordinated national approach to OA with respect to the deposit and preservation of the country’s scholarly output.

In the words of the CARL-CRKN Open Access Working Group 2012 report entitled Implementing Open Access, “We are approaching a critical juncture for open access initiatives across Canada… Libraries must be prepared to address and financially support OA sustainability in concert with funding agencies and partner institutions.”

The time appears to be ripe for staking a greater claim in open access: UNB libraries are much engaged both locally and in the national debate, and OA has been a topic of interest amongst certain faculty members. A 2011 request from a Faculty of Science researcher for financial support to publish in a Biomed Central journal generated some internal discussion about the way forward. (See Appendix E.) Around the same time, Karen Keiller, Director of Information Services & Systems at UNBSJ, expressed an interest in launching an author fund, a plan that was placed on hold until a coordinated institution-wide policy could be considered.

OA at CARL Member Libraries

Of the 29 academic libraries that are members of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), a few have adopted an open access policy or statement, and about one-third have established an author fund to help defray the costs (article processing charges or APCs) of publishing in open access journals. Many others focus on education, distributing open access information via their websites to alert faculty and student authors to the potential advantages of OA. All support open access activities in some way, either through memberships in organizations promoting OA (such as SPARC— the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) or through financial support of some of the established OA initiatives (such as the Directory of Open Access Journals). All provide access to thousands of OA resources including journal titles, e-books, images, and other media, and many have launched institutional repositories (IRs) to collect and make available the work of their scholars.

Concordia University was the first Canadian academic institution to endorse an open access policy. The Senate Resolution on Open Access as approved in 2010 is reproduced in Appendix F. Carleton University adopted its own policy in 2012, and the University of Ottawa, while not yet having an approved policy or statement as such, has been a national leader in promoting OA.

For a discussion of OA in Canada, see Librarians and Libraries Supporting Open Access Publishing (Richard, Koufougiannakis, and Ryan, 2009).


As already mentioned in this document, UNB libraries have also been active on the open access front. Director of Libraries (UNBF) John Teskey signed the Budapest Open Access Declaration in 2002 on behalf of UNB. Since then we have financially supported several open access initiatives, including the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and BioMed Central (although the membership in BMC has lapsed due to budget constraints). The Electronic Text Centre has been contributing to open access since 1995 through the digitization of unique New Brunswick materials that are made freely available on the web and now through UNB Scholar, as well as through the publication of open access journals including the Canadian Journal of Transportation, the Journal of New Brunswick Studies, and Narrative Works: Issues, Investigations and Intervention. UNBSJ maintains its own digital repository with a focus on the history of Saint John and the Saint John campus. Additionally, UNBSJ focused on the theme of open access in their first annual Bailiwick conference held October 2012.

UNB libraries are a member of SPARC; PKP (Public Knowledge Project); DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals); and COAR (Confederation of Open Access Repositories) through our membership in the Canadian Association of Research Libraries. Our firm commitment to open access is further demonstrated by the recent hiring of a Digital Repository and Metadata Librarian who will play a lead role in OA on the Fredericton campus.

Although we have been and continue to be engaged, we have yet to adopt an open access policy or statement, and we do not have an author fund, nor have we used our website in any appreciable way to promote open access. Perhaps most importantly, we have concerns about the long-term viability of our institutional repository in the absence of stable, ongoing institutional funding to support it; much of the work of the Electronic Text Centre since the beginning has been soft-funded through the obtention of mostly federal grants.

Benefits of and the Case for Open Access

The benefits of open access appear self-evident for some; indeed, advocates of OA often approach the subject with something akin to religious zeal. Others are less convinced and see no immediate problem with the commercial scholarly communication system that has been in place for centuries. For the more skeptical, OA is seen as a threat to the rewards of the current system, primarily as they provide the vehicle for promotion and tenure. Suber (2013) counters this concern with the claim that, “OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance.” Neither is OA seen as incompatible with quality and prestige, or with commercialization and profit-making.

If the benefits of open access are still being debated, the momentum in the movement is hard to dispute, and some believe a tipping point has been reached, particularly with the adoption of OA mandates by national governments (the UK and the US, for example), international bodies (the European Commission, the United Nations, the World Bank and others), and major funding agencies, both public (the Research Councils UK, the National Institutes of Health in the U.S., and our own Canadian Institutes of Health Research) and private (the Wellcome Trust in the UK being a good example).

Amongst the many arguments for OA cited by advocates, a few are listed here.

  1. Researchers, as well as citizen scientists, have broader access to research results which may have been previously hidden from view behind a pay wall.
  2. With wider distribution, OA guarantees a greater impact of research and leads to accelerated scientific discovery. The latter is critical, it is argued, to combat 21st Century challenges, both societal and environmental.
  3. OA benefits all of humanity (public good argument) by making the results of research widely available for use by all, including non-profit groups and organizations. Research is no longer “locked up” for the sole use of commercial interests or governments.
  4. OA provides a larger audience and therefore greater visibility for researchers, with potential positive impacts for promotion and tenure.
  5. OA stimulates economic activity generated by accelerated knowledge transfer.
  6. OA can bolster a researcher’s reputation as a result of increased visibility and readership. (New ways of measuring impact, known as alt-metrics, are being developed to support evaluation, promotion and tenure.)
  7. OA comes with a commitment to long-term preservation of the scholarly record and human knowledge generally. Commercial publishers have much less of a stake in long-term preservation and will only invest in activities that are profit-making. Commercial publishers also come and go unlike large academic and cultural institutions, making their published content vulnerable to business cycles.
  8. Taking control out of the hands of commercial publishers will lower the cost of access to information.

The removal of price barriers to research literature, it is claimed and some say proven, will “accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.” (BOAI, 2001) Proponents insist that this is not a utopian vision but a fully-realizable one which should not cost more to implement than what we already collectively spend on subscribed literature. If the theory can be thought of as a formula, it would go like this: same or lower expenditure for more access to more information by more users for greater outcomes.

What might be the repercussions of inaction for UNB?

Many universities outside of Canada have passed OA policies in recent years, perhaps most notably Harvard (2008), Stanford (2008), and MIT (2009) given their reputations and early adoption. Harvard’s Provost Steven E. Hyman is quoted on Harvard’s Office of Scholarly Communication website as saying:

The goal of university research is the creation, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge. At Harvard, where so much of our research is of global significance, we have an essential responsibility to distribute the fruits of our scholarship as widely as possible.

At MIT, the faculty open access policy was passed by a unanimous vote, with a review of the policy slated for 2013.

As OA mandates become more widespread within academia worldwide, the lack of a policy could be disadvantageous to UNB. In a competitive world, reputation is everything, and in an internet world, visibility matters. Not embracing open access at UNB means missing an opportunity to promote our institution through the quality of its scholarship and its scholars.

What next for UNB?

There are many ways to support OA and as already demonstrated, UNB libraries have already engaged in several of them. However, given the momentum of the OA movement and the expected policies from the granting councils, we feel some urgency to expand our role in this area. There are some obvious and easy steps we can take immediately such as engaging in educational activities to create awareness of and promote OA (e.g. creating an OA webpage, coordinating OA Week activities). Other activities require institutional support. What is next for UNB?

  • Will we adopt an OA policy mandating some form of compliance, or limit ourselves to a statement in support of OA? The latter would certainly prove easier to accomplish than the former. Do we have the monitoring capacity or the political will to implement a mandate?
  • Should we establish an author fund to support publication in OA journals? Where would the funding come from, how much money would be invested, and what kind of publishing would qualify for support?
  • Should UNB sign onto COPE (See Appendix G, Compact for Open Access Publishing Equity), the Berlin Declaration (Appendix C), or some other international initiatives?
  • To support the expected Tri-Council policies for open access, UNB libraries must have a robust repository available for our researchers to deposit their articles. There is a need for ongoing funding to support and develop UNB Scholar. Where will the financial support come from?


This is a critical time for OA and perhaps even a tipping point, as some have suggested. Whatever the recommendations coming out of these discussions and whatever position the university chooses to adopt, we are at the very beginning of the journey. UNB libraries have invested and will continue to invest in OA, it being a natural extension of the mission of libraries throughout the ages to collect and preserve knowledge, and to make it accessible. However, open access is inscribed in the wider movement that includes open source software, open theses, open educational resources, open courseware, open textbooks, and open data. All of these intersect and we have only begun to explore the possibilities. To take full advantage of developing opportunities, institution-wide support is needed.


Appendix A: Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI 2002)

An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment, for the sake of inquiry and knowledge. The new technology is the internet. The public good they make possible is the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds. Removing access barriers to this literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.

For various reasons, this kind of free and unrestricted online availability, which we will call open access, has so far been limited to small portions of the journal literature. But even in these limited collections, many different initiatives have shown that open access is economically feasible, that it gives readers extraordinary power to find and make use of relevant literature, and that it gives authors and their works vast and measurable new visibility, readership, and impact. To secure these benefits for all, we call on all interested institutions and individuals to help open up access to the rest of this literature and remove the barriers, especially the price barriers, that stand in the way. The more who join the effort to advance this cause, the sooner we will all enjoy the benefits of open access.

The literature that should be freely accessible online is that which scholars give to the world without expectation of payment. Primarily, this category encompasses their peer-reviewed journal articles, but it also includes any unreviewed preprints that they might wish to put online for comment or to alert colleagues to important research findings. There are many degrees and kinds of wider and easier access to this literature. By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

While the peer-reviewed journal literature should be accessible online without cost to readers, it is not costless to produce. However, experiments show that the overall costs of providing open access to this literature are far lower than the costs of traditional forms of dissemination. With such an opportunity to save money and expand the scope of dissemination at the same time, there is today a strong incentive for professional associations, universities, libraries, foundations, and others to embrace open access as a means of advancing their missions. Achieving open access will require new cost recovery models and financing mechanisms, but the significantly lower overall cost of dissemination is a reason to be confident that the goal is attainable and not merely preferable or utopian.

To achieve open access to scholarly journal literature, we recommend two complementary strategies.

I. Self-Archiving: First, scholars need the tools and assistance to deposit their refereed journal articles in open electronic archives, a practice commonly called, self-archiving. When these archives conform to standards created by the Open Archives Initiative, then search engines and other tools can treat the separate archives as one. Users then need not know which archives exist or where they are located in order to find and make use of their contents.

II. Open-access Journals: Second, scholars need the means to launch a new generation of journals committed to open access, and to help existing journals that elect to make the transition to open access. Because journal articles should be disseminated as widely as possible, these new journals will no longer invoke copyright to restrict access to and use of the material they publish. Instead they will use copyright and other tools to ensure permanent open access to all the articles they publish. Because price is a barrier to access, these new journals will not charge subscription or access fees, and will turn to other methods for covering their expenses. There are many alternative sources of funds for this purpose, including the foundations and governments that fund research, the universities and laboratories that employ researchers, endowments set up by discipline or institution, friends of the cause of open access, profits from the sale of add-ons to the basic texts, funds freed up by the demise or cancellation of journals charging traditional subscription or access fees, or even contributions from the researchers themselves. There is no need to favor one of these solutions over the others for all disciplines or nations, and no need to stop looking for other, creative alternatives.

Open access to peer-reviewed journal literature is the goal. Self-archiving (I.) and a new generation of open-access journals (II.) are the ways to attain this goal. They are not only direct and effective means to this end, they are within the reach of scholars themselves, immediately, and need not wait on changes brought about by markets or legislation. While we endorse the two strategies just outlined, we also encourage experimentation with further ways to make the transition from the present methods of dissemination to open access. Flexibility, experimentation, and adaptation to local circumstances are the best ways to assure that progress in diverse settings will be rapid, secure, and long-lived.

The Open Society Institute, the foundation network founded by philanthropist George Soros, is committed to providing initial help and funding to realize this goal. It will use its resources and influence to extend and promote institutional self-archiving, to launch new open-access journals, and to help an open-access journal system become economically self-sustaining. While the Open Society Institute's commitment and resources are substantial, this initiative is very much in need of other organizations to lend their effort and resources.

We invite governments, universities, libraries, journal editors, publishers, foundations, learned societies, professional associations, and individual scholars who share our vision to join us in the task of removing the barriers to open access and building a future in which research and education in every part of the world are that much more free to flourish.

February 14, 2002 Budapest, Hungary

Appendix B: Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing

Released June 20, 2003

Definition of Open Access Publication

An Open Access Publication is one that meets the following two conditions:

  1. 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[2], as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.
  2. 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).


  1. Open access is a property of individual works, not necessarily journals or publishers.
  2. Community standards, rather than copyright law, will continue to provide the mechanism for enforcement of proper attribution and responsible use of the published work, as they do now.

Statement of the Institutions and Funding Agencies Working Group

Our organizations sponsor and nurture scientific research to promote the creation and dissemination of new ideas and knowledge for the public benefit. We recognize that publication of results is an essential part of scientific research and the costs of publication are part of the cost of doing research. We already expect that our faculty and grantees share their ideas and discoveries through publication. This mission is only half-completed if the work is not made as widely available and as useful to society as possible. The Internet has fundamentally changed the practical and economic realities of distributing published scientific knowledge and makes possible substantially increased access.

To realize the benefits of this change requires a corresponding fundamental change in our policies regarding publication by our grantees and faculty:

  1. We encourage our faculty/grant recipients to publish their work according to the principles of the open access model, to maximize the access and benefit to scientists, scholars and the public throughout the world.
  2. We realize that moving to open and free access, though probably decreasing total costs, may displace some costs to the individual researcher through page charges, or to publishers through decreased revenues, and we pledge to help defray these costs. To this end we agree to help fund the necessary expenses of publication under the open access model of individual papers in peer-reviewed journals (subject to reasonable limits based on market conditions and services provided).
  3. We reaffirm the principle that only the intrinsic merit of the work, and not the title of the journal in which a candidate’s work is published, will be considered in appointments, promotions, merit awards or grants.
  4. We will regard a record of open access publication as evidence of service to the community, in evaluation of applications for faculty appointments, promotions and grants.

We adopt these policies in the expectation that the publishers of scientific works share our desire to maximize public benefit from scientific knowledge and will view these new policies as they are intended — an opportunity to work together for the benefit of the scientific community and the public.

Statement of the Libraries & Publishers Working Group

We believe that open access will be an essential component of scientific publishing in the future and that works reporting the results of current scientific research should be as openly accessible and freely useable as possible. Libraries and publishers should make every effort to hasten this transition in a fashion that does not disrupt the orderly dissemination of scientific information.

Libraries propose to:

  1. Develop and support mechanisms to make the transition to open access publishing and to provide examples of these mechanisms to the community.
  2. In our education and outreach activities, give high priority to teaching our users about the benefits of open access publishing and open access journals.
  3. List and highlight open access journals in our catalogs and other relevant databases.

Journal publishers propose to:

  1. Commit to providing an open access option for any research article published in any of the journals they publish.
  2. Declare a specific timetable for transition of journals to open access models.
  3. Work with other publishers of open access works and interested parties to develop tools for authors and publishers to facilitate publication of manuscripts in standard electronic formats suitable for archival storage and efficient searching.
  4. Ensure that open access models requiring author fees lower barriers to researchers at demonstrated financial disadvantage, particularly those from developing countries.

Statement of Scientists and Scientific Societies Working Group

Scientific research is an interdependent process whereby each experiment is informed by the results of others. The scientists who perform research and the professional societies that represent them have a great interest in ensuring that research results are disseminated as immediately, broadly and effectively as possible. Electronic publication of research results offers the opportunity and the obligation to share research results, ideas and discoveries freely with the scientific community and the public.


  1. We endorse the principles of the open access model.
  2. We recognize that publishing is a fundamental part of the research process, and the costs of publishing are a fundamental cost of doing research.
  3. Scientific societies agree to affirm their strong support for the open access model and their commitment to ultimately achieve open access for all the works they publish. They will share information on the steps they are taking to achieve open access with the community they serve and with others who might benefit from their experience.
  4. Scientists agree to manifest their support for open access by selectively publishing in, reviewing for and editing for open access journals and journals that are effectively making the transition to open access.
  5. Scientists agree to advocate changes in promotion and tenure evaluation in order to recognize the community contribution of open access publishing and to recognize the intrinsic merit of individual articles without regard to the titles of the journals in which they appear.
  6. Scientists and societies agree that education is an indispensable part of achieving open access, and commit to educate their colleagues, members and the public about the importance of open access and why they support it.

Appendix C: Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities October 22, 2003


The Internet has fundamentally changed the practical and economic realities of distributing scientific knowledge and cultural heritage. For the first time ever, the Internet now offers the chance to constitute a global and interactive representation of human knowledge, including cultural heritage and the guarantee of worldwide access.

We, the undersigned, feel obliged to address the challenges of the Internet as an emerging functional medium for distributing knowledge. Obviously, these developments will be able to significantly modify the nature of scientific publishing as well as the existing system of quality assurance.

In accordance with the spirit of the Declaration of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the ECHO Charter and the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, we have drafted the Berlin Declaration to promote the Internet as a functional instrument for a global scientific knowledge base and human reflection and to specify measures which research policy makers, research institutions, funding agencies, libraries, archives and museums need to consider.


Our mission of disseminating knowledge is only half complete if the information is not made widely and readily available to society. New possibilities of knowledge dissemination not only through the classical form but also and increasingly through the open access paradigm via the Internet have to be supported. We define open access as a comprehensive source of human knowledge and cultural heritage that has been approved by the scientific community.

In order to realize the vision of a global and accessible representation of knowledge, the future Web has to be sustainable, interactive, and transparent. Content and software tools must be openly accessible and compatible.

Definition of an Open Access Contribution

Establishing open access as a worthwhile procedure ideally requires the active commitment of each and every individual producer of scientific knowledge and holder of cultural heritage. Open access contributions include original scientific research results, raw data and metadata, source materials, digital representations of pictorial and graphical materials and scholarly multimedia material.

Open access contributions must satisfy two conditions:

The author(s) and right holder(s) of such contributions grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, 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 (community standards, will continue to provide the mechanism for enforcement of proper attribution and responsible use of the published work, as they do now), 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 an appropriate standard electronic format is deposited (and thus published) in at least one online repository using suitable technical standards (such as the Open Archive definitions) that is supported and maintained 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.

Supporting the Transition to the Electronic Open Access Paradigm

Our organizations are interested in the further promotion of the new open access paradigm to gain the most benefit for science and society. Therefore, we intend to make progress by

  • encouraging our researchers/grant recipients to publish their work according to the principles of the open access paradigm.
  • encouraging the holders of cultural heritage to support open access by providing their resources on the Internet.
  • developing means and ways to evaluate open access contributions and online-journals in order to maintain the standards of quality assurance and good scientific practice.
  • advocating that open access publication be recognized in promotion and tenure evaluation.
  • advocating the intrinsic merit of contributions to an open access infrastructure by software tool development, content provision, metadata creation, or the publication of individual articles.

We realize that the process of moving to open access changes the dissemination of knowledge with respect to legal and financial aspects. Our organizations aim to find solutions that support further development of the existing legal and financial frameworks in order to facilitate optimal use and access.

Appendix D: Some OA Milestones

1991: arXiv was established by Paul Ginsparg as a repository for preprints in physics that has grown to include many other related fields.

1998: Public Knowledge Project (PKP) launched. PKP has developed free, open source software for the management, publishing, and indexing of journals and conferences. Open Journal Systems, Open Conference Systems and Open Monograph Press increase access to knowledge, improve management of the publishing process thereby reducing publishing costs. Open Harvester Systems allows the creation of centralized search services on metadata from Open Archives Initiative-compliant databases. All PKP software is available under the GNU Public License.

2000: Eprints was established as the first open source repository software supporting OAI-PMH at the University of Southampton. OAI-PMH is the Open Access Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (

2001: Creative Commons (CC) was founded and the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) launched. CC is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. The first CC licenses were released in 2002. By 2009, there were over 350 million CC-licensed works. BOAI was the first to coin the term “open access”. The initiative emerged out of conference sponsored by the Open Society Institute.

2003: Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing; Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities; CARL IR project

2005: National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy/PubMed Central; Wellcome Trust mandate; OECD’s Declaration of Access to Research Data from Public Funding (Canada signed on) “open access to, and unrestricted use of, data promises scientific progress and facilitates the training of researchers and “that open access will maximize the value derived from public investments in data collection efforts” (see CARL CIHR paper)

2007: SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) founded by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL)

2008: CIHR releases OA policy requiring deposit of articles into PubMed Central & availability no later than 12 months embargo. Harvard and Stanford pass OA policy.

2009: MIT faculty unanimously approve OA policy granting the institution non-exclusive permission to make their articles available for the purpose of open dissemination.

2011: Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP) launched “to foster OA within Harvard, foster OA beyond Harvard, undertake research and policy analysis on OA, and provide OA to timely and accurate information about OA itself”.

2012: Research Councils UK (RCUK) unveil new open access policy; EC announces proposed open access policy with the goal that 60% of all European publicly-funded research articles will be open access by 2016. The World Bank OA policy comes into effect July 1, 2012.

Appendix F: Concordia University Senate Resolution on Open Access Approved April 16, 2010


Open access makes the results of publicly funded academic research and creative work accessible to everyone via the internet and succeeds by supplementing but not replacing peer-reviewed journals and other established publishing venues, and

Whereas Concordia University wishes to take a leadership role in Canada and exemplify social responsibility by supporting the principles of open access and has recently launched Spectrum, an open access repository freely available to receive the refereed academic research output and creative work voluntarily deposited by Concordia faculty and others, with assistance from librarians and other library staff as required, thereby satisfying the requirements of a number of funding agencies in Canada and elsewhere without affecting the intellectual property rights, responsibilities and academic freedom of faculty members;

It was resolved that Senate recommends that Concordia University:

  1. from now on encourages all its faculty members to deposit an electronic copy of their refereed research output and creative work in Spectrum, along with non-exclusive permission to preserve and freely disseminate it; and
  2. furthermore, in the specific case of any scholarly article accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, from now on requires all faculty members to deposit an electronic copy in Spectrum along with non-exclusive permission to preserve and freely disseminate it. The requirement is not binding in cases where publishers, co-authors or other rights holders disallow such a deposit. Faculty members may also, without prejudice, opt out of the requirement by notifying the University Librarian in writing that their work has appeared, or will appear in another Open Access format; or by citing other factors that currently discourage them from depositing their work in an Open Access repository.

Appendix G: The Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity

We the undersigned universities recognize the crucial value of the services provided by scholarly publishers, the desirability of open access to the scholarly literature, and the need for a stable source of funding for publishers who choose to provide open access to their journals’ contents. Those universities and funding agencies receiving the benefits of publisher services should recognize their collective and individual responsibility for that funding, and this recognition should be ongoing and public so that publishers can rely on it as a condition for their continuing operation.

Therefore, each of the undersigned universities commits to the timely establishment of durable mechanisms for underwriting reasonable publication charges for articles written by its faculty and published in fee-based open-access journals and for which other institutions would not be expected to provide funds. We encourage other universities and research funding agencies to join us in this commitment, to provide a sufficient and sustainable funding basis for open-access publication of the scholarly literature.


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