Image for Geist: Setting the Stage for the Next Decade of Open Access
Avatar image of OpenMedia

Geist: Setting the Stage for the Next Decade of Open Access

A group of researchers from around the world have been discussing a plan for 'open access'. Their goal is one that would remove barriers to obtaining educational materials online so that the worldwide community could benefit from shared research and knowledge. Education is one of the many reasons that the pro-Internet community is coming together to campaign for access, transparency and accountability. What Internet possibilities are you fighting for? Article by Michael Geist Ten years ago, sixteen experts from around the world gathered in Budapest, Hungary to discuss the how the Internet was changing the way researchers could disseminate their work. The group hatched a plan to "accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge."

Their basic idea was simple: the Internet could be used to freely distribute scholarly research so that anyone, anywhere could have access. Called "open access", the authors of the first Budapest Open Access Initiative identified two ways to enhance public access to research.

First, researchers could publish in journals that were themselves open access. While there were few such journals ten years ago, today there are thousands of open access journals across all disciplines. Alternatively, researchers could publish in the journal of their choice, provided they posted a copy of the article in an online archive. The majority of journal publishers permit researchers to post their work (sometimes for a fee), which are then indexed by search engines and easily accessible on the Internet.

The online archive option has proven to be the more important model with millions of articles posted in thousands of online archives around the world. Today, most universities maintain online archives, while subject specific archives in the sciences and social sciences host hundreds of thousands of articles.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that earlier this year many of the same researchers returned to Budapest to chart the path for the next decade of open access. While the initial declaration expressed the hope that governments, researchers, publishers, universities and others within the scholarly community would help remove the barriers to open access, the updated vision sets a far more aggressive goal of making open access "the default method for distributing new peer-reviewed research in every field and country."

Achieving this goal rests largely on establishing open access mandates, including university policies committing to the availability of faculty research in institutional archives and government funder mandates establishing open access requirements for grantees. Read more »


Stand up against invasive measures that could restrict Internet freedom at

Take action now! Sign up to be in the loop Donate to support our work