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Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI)

This message is addressed to CogPrints users and concerns the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI)
http://www.soros.org/openaccess
launched on 14 February by George Soros’s Open Society Institute.

To be useful, research must be used. To be used (read, cited, applied,
extended) it must be accessible. There are currently 20,000 peer-reviewed journals of scientific and scholarly research worldwide, publishing over 2 million articles per year, every single one of them given away for free by its researcher-authors and their
research-institutions, with the sole goal of maximizing their
uptake and usage by further researchers, and hence their impact on
worldwide research, to the benefit of learning and of humanity.

Yet access to those 2 million annual research articles can only be had
for a fee. Hence they are accessible only to the lucky researchers at
that minority of the world’s research institutions that can pay for
them. And even the wealthiest of these institutions can only afford a
small and shrinking proportion of those annual 20,000 journals.
The result is exactly as if all those 2 million articles had been written
for royalties or fees, just the way most of the normal literature is
written, rather than having been given away for free by their authors
and their institutions for the benefit of research and humanity.

As a consequence, other researchers’ access to all this work,
and hence its potential impact on and benefit to research progress, is
being minimized by access tolls that most research institutions and
individuals worldwide cannot afford to pay.

Those access tolls were necessary, and hence justified, in the Gutenberg era of print-on-paper, with its huge real costs, and no alternatives. But they are no longer necessary or justified, and are instead in direct conflict with what is best for research, researchers,
and society, in today’s PostGutenberg era of on-line-eprints, when
virtually all of those Gutenberg costs have vanished, and those remaining costs can be covered in a way that allows open access.

The Budapest Open Access Initiative is dedicated to freeing online access to this all-important but anomalous (because give-away) literature, now that open access has at long last become
possible, by
(I) providing universities with the means of freeing online access to their own annual peer-reviewed research output (as published in the 20,000 established journals) through institutional self-archiving,
as well as by
(II) providing support for new alternative journals that
offer open online access to their full text contents directly (and for established journals that are committed to making the transition to offering open full-text access online).

It is entirely fitting that it should be George Soros’s Open Society
Institute that launches this initiative to open access to the world’s
refereed research literature at last. Open access is now accessible,
indeed already overdue, at a mounting cost in lost benefits to research
and to society while we delay implementing it. What better way
to open society than to open access to the fruits of its science and
scholarship, already freely donated by its creators, but until now not
freely accessible to all of its potential users? Fitting too is
the fact that this initiative should originate from a part of the
world that has known all too long and all too well the privations of a
closed society and access denial.

Please have a look at the BOAI at
http://www.soros.org/openaccess
and, if you or your organization are implementing, or planning
to implement either Strategy I or Strategy II, I hope you will sign
the BOAI, either as an individual or an organization. Over 100 organizations and 1500 individuals worldwide have indicated their commitment already.