I am taking the P2PU course on Open Science:
This course is a collaborative learning environment meant to introduce the idea of Open Science to young scientists, academics, and makers of all kinds. Open Science is a tricky thing to define, but we've designed this course to share what we know about it; working as a community to make this open resource better. Think of it as a layer on top of the way science is commonly done now. Just better.
Instead of a discussion board our contribution takes the form of writing blog posts as a response to set topics, then sharing them with the other course participants. Here goes...
OA-1: What is Open Access?
Open Access refers to materials, commonly (but not exclusively) journal articles, that are free to all readers at the point of use. This relatively new movement is a change from the old model where research was funded (often by the government via the research councils in the UK) then the findings were published in a journal that was then only available to those individuals or institutions that had a subscription to that journal.
In 2012 the Finch report was published, as discussed in this article from the Guardian. This led to a new policy from RCUK (Research Councils UK) stating that as of April 1st 2013 the findings of all RCUK funded research must be made open access:
"Free and open access to the outputs of publicly-funded research offers significant social and economic benefits as well as aiding the development of new research. The Government, in line with its overarching commitment to transparency and open data, is committed to ensuring that published research findings should be freely accessible. As bodies charged with investing public money in research, the Research Councils take very seriously their responsibilities in making the outputs from this research publicly available – not just to other researchers, but also to potential users in business, charitable and public sectors, and to the general tax-paying public."
There are 2 routes to making articles open access:
Gold open access means that the publisher version of an article is made immediately available with no embargo period in a journal. This can either be in an open access (OA) only journal, or a hybrid journal that contains a mix of subscription and OA articles. Gold OA can require the payment of a fee, an Article Processing Charge (APC), to the journal publisher.
Green open access is where an author publishes in a journal and then deposits a version of the article into a subject or institutional repository. Generally publishers stipulate this has to be a post-print, so it has undergone peer review but does not have the publisher markings or layout. Some publishers impose an embargo period so the article cannot be made open access via the green route immediately.
Both gold and green OA have passionate advocates. If you are interested in finding out more, both views are aired in this Times Higher Education article from 2012.
You may hear the terms 'gratis' and 'libre' used to describe OA. These are additional to the green/gold (repository/journal) distinction: gratis OA refers to the removal of price barriers, whereas libre OA refers to the removal of both price and permissions barriers to allow the easy access and reuse of research.
You will also come across talk of Creative Commons licenses; they feature in the RCUK OA policy. This is from Section 3.7: Licences...
"(i) Where Research Council funds are used to pay the APC for an Open Access paper, we require that the publisher makes the paper freely available under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence. This is the standard licence used by open access journals, and supports the maximum dissemination and re-use of published papers, whilst protecting the moral rights of authors. It allows others to distribute,remix, manipulate, and build upon a paper, including commercially, as long as they credit the authors for the original paper and do not infringe any copyrights to third-party material included in the paper. The use of CC BY where an APC is paid is also the policy of the Wellcome Trust.
(ii) The CC BY licence opens up possibilities for new areas of research by the re-use of papers, and the content of papers through text and data mining, and for new ways of disseminating research by being able to re-present papers in innovative and potentially value-adding ways. Crucially, the CC BY licence removes any doubt or ambiguity as to what may be done with papers, and allows re-use without having to go back to the publisher to check conditions or ask for specific permissions."