Open access: Opportunities and challenges – A handbook
Knowledge is increasingly important for thedevelopment of the individual and society in an ever more globalised world. One of the primary goals of UNESCO is therefore to build up modern knowledge societies in which all people can participate in information and knowledge. At the same time the protection of intellectual property is a major concern, with the aim of ensuring creativity as a core sphere of culture.
Today, the Internet allows access to information worldwide and at any time. Simultaneously, university libraries’ warnings that they can no longer fully meet their responsibility of providing information because of considerable price increases in subscriptions to academic journals are increasingly urgent. In other words, the development of new models of information provision is not only possible, but necessary if access to knowledge and culture is to be secured as one of our most important resources.
In this connection, Open Access is one of the models under discussion. Can and should access to publicly funded academic knowledge be free of charge to the user?
This question is being hotly debated. It has implications for educational, research, legal and economic policy. Without a doubt, individual educational opportunities will be enhanced and innovation promoted if access to knowledge is facilitated in this way. At the same time, there may well be a justified interest in the commercial exploitation of academic results, for example when research is partly financed by private funds.
These few aspects suffice to show that the debate on Open Access must be held on as broad a social basis as possible. The present handbook is designed to contribute to this debate. It provides an interested public with information on Open Access, a subject which, despite its great social importance, has hitherto been mainly discussed by experts.
This handbook is the result of a workshop bringing together 25 experts. These workshop participants — coming from German Federal Ministries, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany, the European Commission, the academic community, major academic organisations, the publishing sector, and the Open Access community — discussed the structure and contents of the present publication.