A Simple Definition For Open Access: A Proposal To Open The Discussion

Heather Morrison | The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics | January 8, 2013

This post proposes a shift from the detailed BBB definition of open access to Peter Suber's brief definition, as follows: Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions (from Suber's Open Access Overview). 


In my dissertation, I map and analyze the relationship of open access and various Creative Commons licenses and conclude that OA and CC licenses, despite superficial similarities, simply do not map, and that attempting to equate OA with a particular CC license such as CC-BY is highly problematic for scholarship.

For a journal, I argue that the best way to express a journal's open access status may well be the default Open Journal Systems (OJS) statement, which reads: this journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.

This is an open definition in a very important sense: it leaves room for scholars to consider, and experiment with, exactly what open access can or should mean, or do for scholarship. We should be articulating the commons - engaging in thinking about what a knowledge commons might mean - not jumping to a quick technical solution such as a particular CC license (acknowledging that the CC licenses, all of them, are valuable tools for scholars). Some of the elements that we should consider in articulating the commons include...