What is Open Access (OA)?
Open access refers to scholarly research that is freely available online, without price or most licensing restrictions. It encourages the unrestricted sharing of research with everyone, everywhere, for the advancement and enjoyment of science and society.
For a quick and lively introduction to OA, see this 2012 animated video by PhD comics, narrated in part by Nick Shockey of SPARC.
The focus and vision of the OA movement has changed over time. Watch Denisse Albornoz explain how today’s OA community aims to create a more inclusive vision of openness than in times past: “Power and Inequality in Open Access Discourses” (from Open Con 2017).
- The 2001 Budapest Open Access Initiative, a document produced as the culmination of a landmark open access conference, represents a seminal moment in OA history.
- The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) is a globally-influential OA organization that offers a rich array of online resources.
- Creative Commons is an OA advocacy group and creator of key OA legal innovations.
- Open Con is a leading annual conference on OA issues. Find their twitter feed here.
- Open.UToronto is a University of Toronto initiative that promotes the discovery, use, creation and sharing of openly licensed content, resources and courses. Its mandate encompasses open access issues and content.
Open science. Open science is about applying the principle of openness to the entire scientific research cycle. Open access, open data, open education and open notebooks are therefore components of open science, as are practices beyond what is discussed on this page (citizen science, scientific social networks, and open peer review, for instance).
Open data. Open Data is the movement to make data freely available online, without financial or legal barriers. The push to make data accessible is sweeping a number of sectors; open data is available from academic researchers, governments and private sector organizations alike.
Open education. Open Education is the movement to make educational resources and practices freely available online, without financial or legal barriers. MOOCS (massive open online courses) and OERs (open educational resources) both fall under the umbrella of open education.
Open notebooks. This constitutes the online livesharing of primary research records (most often laboratory notebooks).