DRAFT Open Access Position Statement

Please see the Open Chemistry Position Statement, endorsed October 12, 2006.

Chemists Without Borders

DRAFT Position Statement on Open Access and Open Source Science (and Suggested Actions)


Within the vision of Chemists Without Borders, Open Access to the traditional scholarly, peer-reviewed journal literature is the library, a global library with equal access to our shared knowledge for all. Open Access is necessary to development of equitable access to chemistry education and research opportunities in both the developed and developing world. CWB strongly supports Open Access, as defined in the Budapest, Berlin, and Bethesda statements, and the measures necessary to implement open access, such as funding agencies requiring open access to the results of the research they fund, and educating researchers about Open Access.

Open Source Science promises more rapid advances in research through open sharing of research information at all stages of the reseach process. Open Source Science means more opportunities for collaboration, whether to facilitate CWB projects or provide researchers with more opportunities for participation in international research collaborations. CWB strongly supports Open Source Science within the context of Open Access.

Open Access

Definition (from the Budapest Open Access Initiative), at:

“By “open access” to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.”

True Open Access means free availability immediately on publication, or before as preprints. There are many intermediary steps towards Open Access, such as free access to back issues of journals.

There are two main approaches to Open Access. Articles can be made openly accessible on publication by the journals themselves, using one of a variety of business models (OA publishing, or the gold road). Or, authors can publish in subscription-based journals, and self-archive their work in an open access archive or repository (self-archiving, or the green road).

Open Access to the traditional scholarly, peer-reviewed journal literature advances the vision of Chemists Without Borders in several ways. Indeed, with respect to this literature, open access epitomizes Chemistry Literature Without Borders, as it means equal, barrier-free access to scholarly knowledge for everyone, everywhere.

Equity in access to the scholarly literature is a necessary step towards equity in chemistry education. In the short term, CWB is likely to be primarily composed of individuals from wealthy countries helping those in the developed world. The goal of CWB, however, must be a world where no one area is more needy than another, except perhaps temporarily in response to an environmental crisis. In this world, CWB is a global community of scientists where any region could be either a recipient of help, or a helper, depending on the circumstances. Equity in access to chemistry education brings us closer to this goal.

In the short term, more equity in access to the scholarly literature means more partners for CWB in the developing world, more students and faculty from the developed world with the means to participate, and better and more reliable access to the research literature for CWB volunteers in the field.

It has been shown that the research article that is OA has more impact, that is, an article that is open access is more likely to be read and cited. If those who research topics of importance to the developing world (and CWB) openly share the results of their research, answers can be found faster. Also, when authors in developing countries share their work as open access, they have more impact; their work is more visible, searchable, and retrievable.

It seems likely that the OA impact advantage will enhance the prestige of authors and universities in the developing world, attract further research on the topics of interest to the these authors, occasionally attract the attention of potential business partners, and increase the authors’ chances of attracting funding or opportunities such as international collaboration on research projects. For example, if an author in the developing world publishes their work as open access, a CWB member is more likely to read their work, and this could lead to a partnership on a CWB project.

Open Source Science

There are many approaches to the sharing of scientific information throughout the research process; CWB encourages experimentation with approaches that meet the criteria of open access along with open source. One example is blogging of experiments; there are many other approaches to open source science, and more will be developed as the potential of the world wide web unfolds.

Open source science has a powerful potential to advance research in and about the developing world, as it allows researchers who may not have as much expensive equipment to participate in collaborative research in a meaningful way.


Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities

Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing

Suggested Actions

Educate chemists and chemistry students about open access and open source science, for example through the CWB blog and newsletter.

Create an open archive for chemistry; help develop and support policies requiring deposit of research articles, for example funders’ and universities’ policies (note: some resources – technology, expertise – required).

Write letters to funding agencies supporting open access policy initiatives in development, for example the Federal Research to Public Access Act in the U.S.

Encourage chemists to publish in open access journals and/or self-archive their work. Encourage chemistry publishers to move to open access business models and revise authors’ agreement to facilitate self-archiving.

Last revised July 27, 2006

CWB members: this position statement will be brought forward for voting at the next meeting, likely mid-October, as we discussed at last Thursday’s meeting. Watch for more details in the next newsletter. Comments and questions are welcome, via blog, CWB list, at the next meeting, or contact me directly. If you are commenting on the blog, please indicate whether you are a CWB member.

This draft open access position statement has been highlighted on Peter Suber’s Open Access News.


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0 thoughts on “DRAFT Open Access Position Statement”

  1. Hi Heather:

    Thanks for putting this together!!! As you know, I am doing research on this same topic (http://bethritterguth.wikispaces.com) I am advocating for a global use of the term “open chemistry” to refer to what open chemsits share as a root philosophy.I am trying to distinguish philosophy from practice. Your blog post is so very timely and wonderful, and I will be using it in my research (thank you, OA Goddess 🙂

  2. Thanks very much Heather – this will be very useful.

    However I have one major concern which I hope you can incorporate. The BOAI implies that data will be Openly available but does not mandate a mechanism. In repeated discussions some of the OA evangelists (especially Stefan harnad) I get the impression that the only thing that matters to them is full-text (and the BOAI uses this phrase). There is an assumption that when full-text is visible to human eyes the battle is won – far from it.

    To get data we have to have freedom of technology, access and copyright. It is no use to me to be able to read a paper from which I cannot abstract data for fear of infringing copyright. I would hope you can incorporate the following:

    – freedom to extract data from the full-text (whether singly or in a collection of articles – this is to avoid the European Directive on Databases which protects collections of data).
    – freedom to download the supplemental data (many publishers copyright this and forbid re-use)

    Hope this makes sense.

  3. Peter makes an excellent distinction here and it is worth noting. What is most important to “open chemists” is the ability to actually use data, and, currently, the existing barriers are problematic. Any statement of this kind should do as much as possible to remove those barriers.

  4. Good suggestions, Beth & Peter – it sounds like the statement could use some work on the open source / open data side. Unlike open access (my specialty), this isn’t something we have talked about much at CWB. Perhaps we could have a special CWB meeting to discuss this before the final draft? In order to frame this within the CWB position statement / vision, it is important to be able to relate this concept to the basic vision of CWB.

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