The push for Open Access publication has been around for more than 30 years now. The past year and a half, however, has produced an exceptional case study on the potential of Open Access. The movement has gained so much traction recently that more funders and researchers feel encouraged to adopt Open Access.
The author, backed by a funding agency or an institution, pays the publication expenses and owns the copyright in open access publishing. Authors have the option of retaining copyright to their work and licensing its reproduction to the publisher. The Creative Commons (CC) licenses are the most commonly used in open access publication. The widely used Creative Commons By Attribution (CC BY) license is one of the most flexible, only requiring attribution to use the material.
Several stakeholders contributed to the development of institutions and resources for shaping up OA movements globally. Three pioneering initiatives - The Budapest Open Access Initiative (Feb 2002, The Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (Apr 2003), and The Berlin Declaration on Open Access (Oct 2002) - laid the groundwork for the ideas and principles of the OA movement.
Significant support for the OA movement can be seen in PLAN S, an Open Access publishing project initiated in September 2018. cOAlition S, an international organization of research funders, has endorsed the initiative. Plan S stipulates that beginning in 2021, scientific papers resulting from publicly funded research be published in Open Access journals or platforms.
OA business models, which initially centered on Article Processing Charges (APCs), have evolved in recent years. The Wellcome Trust-funded SPA-OPS project presented 27 models in 2020, and the list has since grown to around 40 alternatives as publishers experimented with new models.
The rationale for the growth of new OA models is that funders and institutions are enacting increasingly rigorous OA policies. ROARMAP, the Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Rules, is a great resource for visualizing the spread of such policies. ROARMAP, for example, held records of over 800 OA policies as of October 2021, of which 638 were linked to research organizations or their departments, 79 were funder policies, and 54 were cut across funders and research organizations.
While Europe is the source of different OA policies and regulations, including Plan S, it is crucial to acknowledge that the European perspective is not shared universally. ROARMAP includes 419 OA policies in which OA to the version of record is ‘preferred’ or ‘allowed’ as a substitute for Green self-archiving. Only six of these policies mandate CC BY and do not allow an embargo, thereby meeting the high standards set by Plan S.
As mandates such as Plan S take effect, it will influence several academics currently receiving government funding. They will be expected to publish their research findings in an open-access journal. Embracing a coordinated strategy to open access is essential in light of rising recognition among stakeholders of the importance of public access to research in the resolution of regional and global concerns. As more and more funders move in this direction, researchers and academics will be required to find open access outlets for their work, and these open access publications will need to be taken into account while making promotion and tenure decisions.
There are several potential directions the open access movement might take in the future, shifting how the academic research community shares data and research findings and also how collaborations around research take place. While the concept of Open Access may appear simple, its execution is complicated due to the numerous operational and commercial models that must be considered. Since not every OA model is suited for every publisher, models must be evaluated in the context of each business. The impact goes beyond the commercial model, editorial and publishing operations, and more importantly the culture of the organization.
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