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The following paper was delivered at a program entitled, “Scholarly Journals: Our Futures in the Digital Soup,” presented by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals on December 30, 2004 in conjunction with the Modern Language Association Annual Convention.

As scholarship becomes ever more digitally driven, the communication of peer-reviewed research results has undergone a dramatic transformation. The Internet has created an unprecedented environment where these results can be immediately and broadly shared. As researchers, funding agencies, and policy makers become aware of the opportunities afforded by faster and wider sharing of research results, access policies are evolving accordingly. From policies focusing primarily on protecting this material from unauthorized users, a proliferation of policies designed to leverage the value of funding agencies’ investment in research by sharing the results as widely as possible are now appearing. This paper will examine the rapid evolution of access policies, designed to create a more inclusive scholarly communications playing field, which are now appearing around the world.

Over the past several years, libraries have strategically brought to bear the power of a global awareness event we call “Open Access Week” to advance real, policy-driven scholarly communication change on campus. Initiated by students and marked by just a few dozen campuses in 2007, Open Access Week has evolved into a truly global phenomenon thanks to the ongoing leadership of the library community.

In February 2002, the Budapest Open Access Initiative called for a kind of online access to research literature that was free of charge and free of most usage restrictions. It offered a name ("open access") for the unified concept, but it didn't suggest names for the two component parts.

To be recognized as an authoritative, high-quality source of information, a journal must be widely available. Indexing and abstracting services facilitate the broadest dissemination of information by pointing researchers to articles that are relevant to the field.

In a move to encourage researchers to make their work open to the public, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Calgary established funds that faculty and graduate students could use cover publication charges for open-access journals. Berkeley and Calgary are two of several funds established in recent years, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Wisconsin – Madison, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, the University of Oregon, and other sites in the U.K.

You both have plans and policies to solve the grave problems facing the nation. I'm writing to add one tool to your toolkit: "open access" (OA) to publicly-funded research. A national commitment to make the non-classified results of federally-funded research freely available online would be good for research, good for the economy, good for taxpayers, and good for your own high-priority plans and policies.

Mary M. Case
Fmr Director, Office of Scholarly Communication
Association of Research Libraries

Many JCB readers will remember Heather Joseph (nee Dalterio) from her time as Managing Editor of the ASCB’s journal, Molecular Biology of the Cell in the late ‘90s. Her drive to “get people the information
they need, when they need it, and in the form they want it”, has led her to the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), where she serves as Executive Director.

Six months after the new, strengthened version of the NIH OA policy took effect, it faces a bill in Congress to overturn it. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) introduced the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (H.R. 6845) on September 9. Conyers is the chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, which is the House committee most responsible for copyright legislation, especially through its Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property. The subcommittee held a hearing on the Conyers bill on September 11. (For links to the bill and hearing, see the bibliography below.)

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