Foundational text: Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities

The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities” (Berlin Declaration) is a foundational document of the Open Access (OA) movement.

The Berlin Declaration was created in 2003 by a number of OA groups and academic institutions, and was intended to build on the Bethesda Statement on OA Publishing and the Budapest Open Access Initiative by presenting practical ways interested parties could “promote the Internet as a functional instrument” for OA. (Source)

The Berlin Declaration presents a goals statement and a definition of OA which are similar to those in the documents it builds upon. It also lays out a number of ways interested parties can contribute to the OA movement, which are vague enough not to be limited by future technological developments and which mostly involve acting as an OA advocate.

You can read the full text of the Berlin Declaration online at the Max Planck Society, as well as sign the declaration yourself. An updated mission statement authored in 2013 is also available on the site.

Foundational Text: Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing

The Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing is one of the three core declarations which defined and popularized the term Open Access (OA). It was created in a 2003 meeting at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland, and was intended to push the biomedical community in particular to engage more with the idea of OA for scientific literature.

The statement sets out a definition of an OA publication as meeting two conditions:

First, it must be made available (with proper attribution) free of charge for users to “copy, use, distribute, transmit and display” as they will. (source)

Second, it must be deposited in a relevant online repository.

Although the second condition is not necessarily a condition outside the biomedical research community, much of the first condition is strongly in line with current broad definitions of OA.

Beyond this basic definition, the Bethesda Statement provides supplementary statements on the benefits of OA from three different groups of stakeholders: Institutions and Agencies; Libraries and Publishers; and Scientists and Societies.

The definition the Bethesda Statement provides, and its stakeholder statements, still point out issues the OA community faces today, such as the use of fees and processing charges. You can read the full Bethesda Statement here.

Foundational Text: Budapest Open Access Initiative

The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) was one of the first declarations to popularize the notion of Open Access (OA) for peer reviewed research.

Launched in February of 2002 after a meeting of the Open Society Foundation in Budapest in December of 2001, the declaration aimed to “accelerate progress in the international effort to make research articles in all academic fields freely available on the Internet” (source).

The document not only lays out several philosophical reasons for OA but presents two strategies for achieving it: Self-archiving, whereby scholars are free to deposit copies of articles they’ve written in freely accessible archives, and OA journals, where access to journal content is free without the need for archiving.

Not all of the BOAI declaration’s recommendations are followed today. For example, many OA journals still exist which charge subscription or access fees.

You can read the full BOAI declaration, as well as supplementary material related to the background of the declaration and what’s been happening since, at the Budapest Open Access Initiative home page.