Picture of Stevan Harnad

Hi, my name is Stevan Harnad and I am haunted by a koan (def):

Why did 34,000 researchers sign a threat in 2000 to boycott their journals unless those journals agreed to provide open access to their articles - when the researchers themselves could provide open access (OA) to their own articles by self-archiving them on their own institutional websites?

Not only has 100% OA been reachable through self-archiving as of at least 1994, but since then the OAI Standard has made it possible to make all institutional repositories (IRs) seamlessly interoperable and over 90% of journals have even given author self-archiving their explicit green light. Over 60% of them, including almost all top journals -- have given their green light to self-archiving the refereed final draft ("postprint") immediately upon acceptance for publication.

The free EPrints software was  created in 2000 to help resolve this koan. The software was enthusiastically received, widely adopted, and inspired many emulations.

But free software alone was not enough to resolve the koan. Three other elements were needed:

(1) Quantitative evidence of the benefits of OA self-archiving to research, researchers, their institutions and their funders

(2) OA self-archiving Mandates by Research Funders and Institutions

(3) Guidance on how to create, maintain, and fill a successful IR.

Eprints continues to work toward the goal of ensuring that 100% of the research output of the world's 's c. 12,000 universities and research institutions is deposited in its OA institutional repositories for all potential users webwide through self-archiving -- thereby resolving the koan at last.

Stevan Harnad's Open Access Archivangelism Blog

Key Resources

  • ROAR tracks the growth of existing OA Archives.
  • ROARMAP tracks the growth of institutional self-archiving policies.
  • ROMEO tracks journal/publisher "green" policies on author self-archiving [data originate from SHERPA-ROMEO]
  • The OAA Bibliography tracks the studies on the OA advantage in research usage and impact.
  • The Self-Archiving FAQ tracks and answers questions about self-archiving.
  • Citebase tracks citations: a scientometric OA search engine.
  • The American Scientist Open Access Forum has been tracking OA progress since 1998.

What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) is free, immediate, permanent online access to the full text of research articles for anyone, webwide.

There are two roads to OA:

(1) the "golden road" of OA journal-publishing , where journals provide OA to their articles (either by charging the author-institution for refereeing/publishing outgoing articles instead of charging the user-institution for accessing incoming articles, or by simply making their online edition free for all);

(2) the "green road" of OA self-archiving, where authors provide OA to their own published articles, by making their own eprints free for all.
The two roads to OA should not be confused or conflated; they are complementary. (This site is focussed largely on the green road, because it is the fastest and surest way to reach immediate 100% OA; but the green road might eventually lead to gold too.)

OA self-archiving is not self-publishing; nor is it about online publishing without quality control (peer review); nor is it intended for writings for which the author wishes to be paid, such as books or magazine/newspaper articles. OA self-archiving is for peer-reviewed research, written solely for research impact rather than royalty revenue.

Who benefits from Open Access?

Society as a whole benefits from an expanded and accelerated research cycle in which research can advance more effectively because researchers have immediate access to all the findings they need.

The visibility, usage and impact of researchers' own findings increases with OA, as does their power to find, access and use the findings of others. Universities co-benefit from their researchers' increased impact, which also increases the return on the investment of the funders of the research, such as governments, charitable foundations, and the tax-paying public.

For teachers, Open Access means no restrictions on providing articles for teaching purposes. Only the URL need be provided; Open Access takes care of the rest. Publishers likewise also benefit from the wider dissemination, greater visibility and higher journal citation impact factor of their articles.

Putting Open Access into Practice

Researchers, their institutions and their funders need to be informed of the benefits of providing Open Access and instructed on how quickly and simply it is done.

Institutional Open Access Repositories need to be created (and registered in ROAR, so as to be seen and emulated by other institutions).

Most important, an OA self-archiving mandate for systematically filling these repositories with their target content needs to be adopted and implemented (and registered, so as to be seen and emulated by other institutions).

An Institutional Repository is the best way to provide OA to research output. Software such as EPrints provides a web-based OAI-compliant IR for free.

Other Resources

EnablingOpenScholarship (EOS)
OA policy-making guidance for universities and research institutions worldwide
Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook (OASIS)
Training and resources for individuals or institutions who wish to provide open access to their research publications
SPARC Campus Open Access Policies
Resources to support data-driven, community-engaging, and successful open-access policy development at institutions everywhere