Bethesda statement on open access publishing

From: Peter Suber <>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 13:10:10 +0100

[Forwarded from FOS Blog and FOS Forum ]

Bethesda statement on open access publishing
Peter Suber Jun 22, 2003 17:44 PDT

[I'm forwarding an important statement on open access publishing from an
April meeting of foundations, scientists, editors, publishers, and open
access proponents. It was released on June 20. I will make sure that
comments to the FOS Forum are known to the conference organizers. I
participated in the conference and signed the document. I wish it
went further on a few points, but it makes significant headway e.g. in
asking foundations to pay the processing fees charged by open-access
journals. The public and private funding agencies in the room agreed
that this was something they could and should do to promote open access.
--Peter Suber.]

Summary of the April 11, 2003, Meeting on Open Access Publishing

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 sciences.

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
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 authorship[2], 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 journals.
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
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
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 access.
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.
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
University, 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
Received on Mon Jun 23 2003 - 13:10:10 BST

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