In recent years, rising subscription prices for scientific journals have put a growing strain on the budgets of university libraries and research centres. In a complicated economic context, this often means a reduction in the online supply of scientific literature available to the research personnel of institutions.
Two recent European Commission public consultations show that researchers, libraries, research funding agencies and businesses believe that there is a problem with access to scientific information and that this is a key barrier to the optimal circulation of knowledge in Europe, affecting both academic research and industrial uptake of research results. Respondents to these consultations indicate that Open Access is a key tool to overcome access limitations. Over 90% of respondents expressed the belief that publications stemming from research financed with public funds should be available in Open Access for the society.
Open Access is backed as an alternative model of scientific communication by a growing number of universities, research centres and funding agencies in Europe and occidental countries. National initiatives and practices are still fragmented, thus preventing the European Union from realising its full research and innovation potential.
Open Access is gradually establishing itself as a model due to a wide range of reasons, the most important of which are as follows:
- Economic: reduction of institutional expenses and significant improvement on the return from investment.
- Ethical and philosophical: there is a growing consensus that the results of research financed with public funds should be made publicly accessible.
- Strategic (in the area of scientific policy): swifter dissemination, greater visibility and impact, and a greater number of citations of publications.