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Open Access Journal Developments  Peter Suber
 Jun 26, 2003 15:39 PDT 

[Forwarding a memo recently sent to SPARC members, with SPARC
permission. For an HTML version of the Bethesda statement, see
<http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/bethesda.htm>. --Peter.]

Dear SPARC Member,

I want to call your attention to several recent developments relating to
the growing movement for open access:

1) The Public Library of Science held a press conference this morning here
in Washington to unveil their campaign to build grassroots support for
public access to publicly funded research. This will include a television
commercial <http://www.plos.org/support/playvideo.html> and is supported by
a variety of new advocacy materials available on the PLoS web site
<http://www.plos.org/support/stuff.html>. Discussion of PLoS's efforts is
likely to energize discussion of scholarly communications at your
institution in the months ahead.

2) Also disclosed at this morning's press conference was the text of a bill
that was to be introduced in the US Congress today (and so not yet
numbered) by Representative Martin Sabo of Minnesota. The bill would deny
copyright protection to "any work produced pursuant to scientific research
substantially funded by the Federal Government...." Rep. Sabo's office
indicated they view the current text (copy attached) as a "jumping off
point" and a means of getting the discussion going" on the Hill.

3) Recently SPARC participated in a meeting of foundations, scientists,
editors, publishers, and open-access proponents hosted by the Howard Hughes
Medical Institute, one of the world's leading funders of biomedical
research. HHMI earlier announced that it would earmark funds as part of its
grants to pay for open-access publication, so the meeting was a means of
building expanded support for open-access journal publishing. An outcome of
the meeting is the document that I've provided below. It offers a
definition of open access publication that might be utilized by funding
agencies and others, plus statements of three working groups that describe
ways in which open access might be advanced within various functional
communities. You may wish to use this document to stimulate discussion of
open access at your institution.

4) On June 17 it was announced that all 180 universities in the United
Kingdom are to become "institutional members" of open-access pioneer BioMed
Central < http://www.nesli.ac.uk/bmc_pr.html>. This means
article-processing charges will be waived for all UK higher education staff
when publishing in any of BioMed Central’s 90+ peer-reviewed journals, in
which all research content is freely accessible. The membership is made
possible by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), a joint
committee of UK further and higher education funding bodies, which is an
encouraging endorsement of open access.

I would be pleased to hear from you if you have thoughts on any of these
developments. Anticipating that they are likely to spur conversation at
your institution, here are a few resources that you might want to be aware of:

• In an article available at
<http://www.arl.org/newsltr/227/openaccess.html>, SPARC Europe's David
Prosser has described a means by which existing subscription-based journals
might start a transition to open access without taking on substantial risk.
David's level-headed proposal may help disarm resistance to open access
from established journals by giving them a means to embrace a new business
model without prematurely jettisoning the security of their established
subscription base.

• Further discussion of the practical business issues open-access
publishing is available in two guides prepared earlier this year by the
SPARC Consulting Group for the Open Society Institute. These are available
at <http://www.soros.org/openaccess/oajguides/index.shtml>.

• ARL has prepared an excellent overview of open access which you will find
at <http://www.arl.org/scomm/open_access/index.html>.

While there is still much work to be done to broadly demonstrate the
benefits of open-access journal publishing and provide for its viability, I
am encouraged that things are moving in a positive direction and at an
accelerating pace. I hope you will find this information useful in
preparing to engage with members of your institutional community around the

Best regards,
Rick Johnson,
Enterprise Director


Summary of the April 11, 2003, Meeting on Open Access Publishing
Howard Hughes Medical Institute • Chevy Chase, MD

The following statements of principle were drafted during a one-day meeting
held on April 11, 2003 at the headquarters of the Howard Hughes Medical
Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The purpose of this document is to
stimulate discussion within the biomedical research community on how to
proceed, as rapidly as possible, to the widely held goal of providing open
access to the primary scientific literature. Our goal was to agree on
significant, concrete steps that all relevant parties—the organizations
that foster and support scientific research, the scientists that generate
the research results, the publishers who facilitate the peer-review and
distribution of results of the research, and the scientists, librarians and
other who depend on access to this knowledge—can take to promote the rapid
and efficient transition to open access publishing.

A list of the attendees is given following the statements of principle;
they participated as individuals and not necessarily as representatives of
their institutions. Thus, this statement, while reflecting the group
consensus, should not be interpreted as carrying the unqualified
endorsement of each participant or any position by their institutions.

Our intention is to reconvene an expanded group in a few months to draft a
final set of principles that we will then seek to have formally endorsed by
funding agencies, scientific societies, publishers, librarians, research
institutions and individual scientists as the accepted standard for
publication of peer-reviewed reports of original research in the biomedical

The document is divided into four sections: The first is a working
definition of open access publication. This is followed by the reports of
three working groups.

Definition of Open Access Publication

An Open Access Publication (1) is one that meets the following two conditions:

1. The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) to all users a free,
irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to
copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make
and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible
purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship2, as well as the right
to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.

2. A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including
a copy of the permission as stated above, in a suitable standard electronic
format is deposited immediately upon initial publication in at least one
online repository that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly
society, government agency, or other well-established organization that
seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability,
and long-term archiving (for the biomedical sciences, PubMed Central is
such a repository).


1. Open access is a property of individual works, not necessarily journals
or publishers.

2.   Community standards, rather than copyright law, will continue to
provide the mechanism for enforcement of proper attribution and responsible
use of the published work, as they do now.

Statement of the Institutions and Funding Agencies working group

Our organizations sponsor and nurture scientific research to promote the
creation and dissemination of new ideas and knowledge for the public
benefit. We recognize that publication of results is an essential part of
scientific research and the costs of publication are part of the cost of
doing research. We already expect that our faculty and grantees share their
ideas and discoveries through publication. This mission is only
half-completed if the work is not made as widely available and as useful to
society as possible. The Internet has fundamentally changed the practical
and economic realities of distributing published scientific knowledge and
makes possible substantially increased access.

To realize the benefits of this change requires a corresponding fundamental
change in our policies regarding publication by our grantees and faculty:

1. We encourage our faculty/grant recipients to publish their work
according to the principles of the open access model, to maximize the
access and benefit to scientists, scholars and the public throughout the world.

2. We realize that moving to open and free access, though probably
decreasing total costs, may displace some costs to the individual
researcher through page charges, or to publishers through decreased
revenues, and we pledge to help defray these costs. To this end we agree
to help fund the necessary expenses of publication under the open access
model of individual papers in peer-reviewed journals (subject to reasonable
limits based on market conditions and services provided).

3. We reaffirm the principle that only the intrinsic merit of the work, and
not the title of the journal in which a candidate’s work is published, will
be considered in appointments, promotions, merit awards or grants.

4. We will regard a record of open access publication as evidence of
service to the community, in evaluation of applications for faculty
appointments, promotions and grants.

We adopt these policies in the expectation that the publishers of
scientific works share our desire to maximize public benefit from
scientific knowledge and will view these new policies as they are
intended—an opportunity to work together for the benefit of the scientific
community and the public.

Statement of the Libraries & Publishers Working Group

We believe that open access will be an essential component of scientific
publishing in the future and that works reporting the results of current
scientific research should be as openly accessible and freely useable as
possible. Libraries and publishers should make every effort to hasten this
transition in a fashion that does not disrupt the orderly dissemination of
scientific information.

Libraries propose to:

1. Develop and support mechanisms to make the transition to open access
publishing and to provide examples of these mechanisms to the community.

2. In our education and outreach activities, give high priority to teaching
our users about the benefits of open access publishing and open access

3. List and highlight open access journals in our catalogs and other
relevant databases.

Journal publishers propose to:

1. Commit to providing an open access option for any research article
published in any of the journals they publish.

2. Declare a specific timetable for transition of journals to open access

3. Work with other publishers of open access works and interested parties
to develop tools for authors and publishers to facilitate publication of
manuscripts in standard electronic formats suitable for archival storage
and efficient searching.

4. Ensure that open access models requiring author fees lower barriers to
researchers at demonstrated financial disadvantage, particularly those from
developing countries.

Statement of Scientists and Scientific Societies Working Group

Scientific research is an interdependent process whereby each experiment is
informed by the results of others. The scientists who perform research and
the professional societies that represent them have a great interest in
ensuring that research results are disseminated as immediately, broadly and
effectively as possible. Electronic publication of research results offers
the opportunity and the obligation to share research results, ideas and
discoveries freely with the scientific community and the public.


1. We endorse the principles of the open access model.

2. We recognize that publishing is a fundamental part of the research
process, and the costs of publishing are a fundamental cost of doing research.

3. Scientific societies agree to affirm their strong support for the open
access model and their commitment to ultimately achieve open access for all
the works they publish. They will share information on the steps they are
taking to achieve open access with the community they serve and with others
who might benefit from their experience.

4. Scientists agree to manifest their support for open access by
selectively publishing in, reviewing for and editing for open access
journals and journals that are effectively making the transition to open

5. Scientists agree to advocate changes in promotion and tenure evaluation
in order to recognize the community contribution of open access publishing
and to recognize the intrinsic merit of individual articles without regard
to the titles of the journals in which they appear.

6. Scientists and societies agree that education is an indispensable part
of achieving open access, and commit to educate their colleagues, members
and the public about the importance of open access and why they support it.

List of Participants

Dr. Patrick O. Brown
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Stanford University School of Medicine, and
Public Library of Science

Ms. Diane Cabell
Associate Director
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School

Dr. Aravinda Chakravarti
Director, McKusick-Nathans Institute of
   Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins
   Univeristy, and
Editor, Genome Research

Ms. Barbara Cohen
Executive Editor
Journal of Clinical Investigation

Dr. Tony Delamothe
BMJ Publishing Group
United Kingdom

Dr. Michael Eisen
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
University of California Berkeley, and
Public Library of Science

Dr. Les Grivell
Programme Manager
European Molecular Biology Organization

Prof. Jean-Claude Guédon
Professor of Comparative Literature,
University of Montreal, and
Member of the Information Sub-Board,
Open Society Institute

Dr. R. Scott Hawley
Genetics Society of America

Mr. Richard K. Johnson
Enterprise Director
SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)

Dr. Marc W. Kirschner
Harvard Medical School

Dr. David Lipman
Director, NCBI
National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health

Mr. Arnold P. Lutzker
Lutzker & Lutzker, LLP
Outside Counsel for Open Society Institute

Ms. Elizabeth Marincola
Executive Director
The American Society for Cell Biology

Dr. Richard J. Roberts
New England Biolabs

Dr. Gerald M. Rubin
Vice President and Director, Janelia Farm
   Research Campus
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Prof. Robert Schloegl
Chair, Task Force on Electronic Publishing
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Germany

Dr. Vivian Siegel
Executive Editor
Public Library of Science

Dr. Anthony D. So
Health Equity Division
The Rockefeller Foundation

Dr. Peter Suber
Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College
Open Access Project Director, Public
Senior Researcher, SPARC

Dr. Harold E. Varmus
President, Memorial Sloan-Kettering
   Cancer Center
Chair, Board of Directors, Public
   Library of Science

Mr. Jan Velterop
BioMed Central
United Kingdom

Dr. Mark J. Walport
Director Designate
The Wellcome Trust
United Kingdom

Ms. Linda Watson
Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
University of Virginia Health System

---End HHMI document---
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