What is open access?

"Our mission of disseminating knowledge is only half complete if the information is not made widely and readily available to society." 

Berlin Declaration

Open access is a broad international academic movement that seeks free and open online access to academic information, such as publications and data. When anyone can read, download, copy, distribute, print, search for and search within the information, or use it in education or another way within the legal agreements, the publication is called 'open access', as there are no financial, legal or technical barriers. 

Open access is also the term for a new business model for academic publishing that makes research information available to readers at no cost. It contrasts with the subscription model, in which readers have access to scholarly information, usually via a library, by paying a subscription.

One of the most important advantages of open access is that it increases the visibility and use of academic research results. There is also criticism, and quality deserves extra effort.

The principles of open access are set out in the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003). This declaration has been signed by many international organisations for academic research, including all Dutch universities and research organisations. 

There are two ways of achieving open access: 

  • Via the golden route: publication via publisher platforms, in open access journals. This route is in most cases not free. The publication costs, known as ‘article processing costs’ (APCs), are paid by the author or his or her institution. Some organisations that fund academic research feel that open access is important and they are willing to cover the costs themselves. A list of open access journals that are accessible worldwide can be found on the DOAJ website.

  • Via the green route: the full text of academic publications is deposited in a repository, a publicly accessible database managed by a research organisation. You will find the Dutch repositories via NARCIS, the Dutch portal for research information. NARCIS gives access to all the publications in the Dutch repositories.

Peter Suber, one of the founding fathers of the open access movement, gave this definition.

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Dutch National website providing information for academics about the advantages of open access to publicly financed research

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