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Advantages of Open Access

An article is ‘open access' if you are free to read, download, copy, distribute, print or search it. The author has given a non-exclusive licence for a broad (re)use, but retains the author's rights. This makes it possible to make material accessible via the Internet or to use it as lecture material.

When making an article 'open access', it is important to know which rights the author has, and if the material has been published, which rights the author has transferred to the publisher.

Advantage 1: increasing downloads and citations

Extensive research has shown that open access publications are downloaded and cited more often. An example is a study done by the University of Southampton. Several other studies are mentioned in The effect of open access and downloads ('hits') on citation impact: a bibliography of studies.

Advantage 2: Higher score in Web of Science and impact factor

It is sometimes claimed that open access magazines do not have a high impact factor. Journals such as PLoS Biology (12.916) and CA: Cancer Journal for Clinicians (87.925) have, however, shown the exact opposite. Many open access journals are indexed in the Web of Science and other databases and do have an impact factor. You can look up their impact factor in the Journal of Citation Reports.

Advantage 3: moral considerations

The accessibility to knowledge is not limited by the budget available to a library or the wealth of the country where the researcher is located. Moreover, research output based on government funded research is freely available. 

Most academic research is subsidised by the government. The author pays a significant sum to the publisher to publish his/her article. The author is not allowed to distribute the article (through the Internet), or must pay extra to do so. Sometimes the author loses the copyright, and is thus forced to pay an additional fee when using his/her own material for educational purposes. The publisher charges libraries and individual users large sums to consult these publications. So research funds are used two or three times just to make research results known.

Advantage 4:  efficiency

Research into the financial benefits of open access has shown that libraries can save millions by implementing an open access system.

Role played by libraries, researchers and policy makers

Via the 'open access' model, libraries and researchers, together with some commercial publishers, try to develop a new model in order to regain control of their own academic articles which, owing to the high subscription rates of journals and the restrictive access conditions that publishers negotiate, are sometimes not accessible to the academic researcher or the general public.

What does the University of Amsterdam do?

The University of Amsterdam plays an active role in making the results of academic research done worldwide, freely accessible.

What can academic researchers do?

  • Preferably publish in less expensive (society) journals, open access journals or journals that become freely available to everyone after a certain time.
  • Try to keep the copyright to their own publications.
  • Consider sitting on the editorial board of an open access journal when invited to.
  • Review manuscripts for open access publications, if requested to do so.
  • Point out to colleagues problems as well as possibilities to improve the current way of publishing research.
  • Set up an open access journal. NWO has an incentive fund for this purpose.

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Published by  Library UvA

16 June 2017