Open Access could be defined as the practice of providing online access to scientific information that is free of charge to the reader. Within the context of R+D, Open Access is typically concerned with access to scientific information, covering two main categories:
- Peer reviewed research articles (published in scientific journals) and other types of documents such as conference papers, grey literature, theses, graduation projects or teaching materials among others.
- DResearch data (data which constitute the empirical basis of publications and/or primary data).
It is important to note that:
- Publications in Open Access are subject to exactly the same peer review process as publications not available in Open Access.
- As an Open Access mandate comes after the decision to publish, it is not an obligation to publish: the researchers decide whether or not their results are published.
- As the decision on whether to commercially exploit results (for example through patents or otherwise) is made before the decision over publication (open access or not) open access does not interfere with the commercial exploitation of research results.
This section on Open Access is based on the background note on open access by the European Commission for publications and data in the Horizon 2020 programme, published in October 2012. As a result, it contains recently updated information focussing principally on Open Access to research literature, including publications and research data.