You’ve probably heard the term “open access” before, but what does it really mean? And how is it relevant to you as a student, researcher or instructor at UBC?
Open access is both a theory and a movement – encouraging the removal of barriers to scholarly research, so that scholarly work is accessible by people everywhere. Open access advocate Peter Suber defines open access literature as “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.”
The key components to open access include removing price, copyright and access barriers to information. For example, most books or articles are individually affordable – but for a researcher, or a library, to consult hundreds of works would be a significant cost, and thus, a price barrier.
Open access encourages publishers to remove price-based access, or “toll road” access. It also encourages researchers to share their work in open access journals or scholarly publications with no permissions or copyright barriers.
Restrictive licences and publisher policies limit who can view articles and how they can be used or shared with other people. Authors themselves are often restricted by publishers from sharing their own articles with colleagues or students. Open access encourages removing most permissions barriers, so that scholars are free to access or reuse literature for academic or research purposes, so long as the original author is properly cited, for example the Wikimedia Commons which uses Creative Commons licenses.
This would mean access is available to everyone: policy makers, health care workers, professionals, educators, scholars in the developing world, and the public. This has many benefits for researchers – open access articles and journals tend to be cited more frequently than non-open access works. Open access makes scholarly research available to more people who can put it to use. It also frees those people to use and reuse it.
How can you support open access initiatives at UBC and beyond?
- Come to the Library’s annual open access celebration – October 28 and 29. Visit the Open UBC website for a full schedule of events
- Check out the Scholarly Communications website for information about ways UBC is encouraging open access
- Find research in cIRcle, UBC’s open access institutional repository
- Explore the Library’s Open Access Journal Hosting site