Michael Geist says open access is reshaping the rules of research
"Last month five leading European research institutions launched a petition that called on the European Commission to establish a new policy to require that all government-funded research be made available to the public shortly after publication. That requirement - called an open access principle - would leverage widespread Internet connectivity with low-cost electronic publication to create a freely available virtual scientific library available to the entire globe.
Despite scant media attention, word of the petition spread quickly throughout the scientific and research communities. Within weeks, it garnered more than 20,000 signatures, including several Nobel prize winners and over 750 education, research, and cultural organizations from around the world.
In response, the European Commission committed over $100 million toward facilitating greater open access through support for open access journals and for the building of the infrastructure needed to house institutional repositories that can store the millions of academic articles written each year...
Researchers are increasingly choosing to publish in freely available, open access journals posted on the Internet, rather than in conventional, subscription-based publications. The Directory of Open Access Journals, a Swedish project that links to open access journals in all disciplines, currently lists more than 2,500 open access journals worldwide featuring over 127,000 articles...
For those researchers committed to traditional publication, open access principles mandate that they self-archive their work by depositing an electronic copy in freely available institutional repositories shortly after publication. This approach grants the public full access to the work, while retaining the current peer-reviewed conventional publication model.
While today this self-archiving approach is typically optional, a growing number of funding agencies moving toward a mandatory requirement. These include the National Institutes of Health in the U.S., the Wellcome Trust in the United Kingdom, and the Australian Research Council."