When a loved one is sick or when people need more information about an area of science for any reason, they increasingly turn to the internet to learn more about the latest research and these days they expect to find it available to them.
We believe that scientific research represents a global treasury of information and that it should be published in an Open Access format, allowing anyone to freely read and re-use that information.
However, Open Access has a wider agenda than simply providing free access to research information – we believe that there is vast untapped potential for data mining and knowledge discovery, which is only possible when the research literature is not constrained behind access barriers.
What does Open Acccess mean? Simply that everything that we publish is freely available online throughout the world, for you to read, download, copy, distribute, and use (with attribution) any way you wish. No permission is required. Read a detailed definition. If you haven’t got time to read this, there are two things you need to know:
- Authors retain copyright, under a Creative Commons Attribution License.
- No permission is required to use – or reuse – the content.
Major funders such as the NIH, HHMI, Wellcome Trust and the MRC want the public to have access to the work that they fund and require that papers be made available to them through PubMed Central (PMC).
This is the notice that PMC runs on their site; we think it sums up the situation pretty clearly.
The easiest way for authors to comply with these requirements is to publish in a PLOS journal because we always have, and always will, publish your work under an Open Access Creative Commons Attribution License, and we will automatically deposit your work at PubMed Central. It requires absolutely no effort from you – we take the strain!
Some other organizations, such as the Max Planck Institute, also support Public Access by paying the publication fees of their researchers and others do so by becoming Institutional Members of PLOS, which allows some of their scientists to benefit from a discount on their publication fee. The most comprehensive list of funders and their publication fee policies that we know of is updated by BioMed Central.
Finally, the Open Access community unites behind Open Access Week (co-organized by PLOS, SPARC and Students for Free Culture plus others and designed to profile raise) – the 2009 event ran from October 19-23, 2009.