What Is Open Access And Why Should We Care?

Danny Kingsley | The Conversation | January 15, 2013

The issue of open access to research findings has been in the media for a number of reasons lately, some positive – the release of the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) open access policy – and some tragic – the recent death of open internet advocate Aaron Swartz.

But what is open access, why should we care about it and how is it going to be achieved in Australia? The general philosophy behind open access is that publicly funded research should be publicly available. But it is much more than an idea of fiscal accountability. Opening access to research is the only way we as a global community will be able to solve the world’s biggest problems.

The insurmountable subscription cost of high-end journals has effectively shut out many researchers worldwide. Having a large proportion of the international research community unable to access research results is like trying to untie a knot with one hand. But the world is shifting, and, of course, it’s all related to money. Funding bodies around the world are making open access to research results a condition of funding. And in Australia last week, as mentioned, one of our main funding bodies, the ARC, announced its open access policy along these lines...