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.
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
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.
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);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
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).