Public and advocacy

Open access to scholarly research is argued to be important to the public for a number of reasons. One of the arguments for public access to the scholarly literature is that most of the research is paid for by taxpayers through government grants, who therefore have a right to access the results of what they have funded. This is one of the primary reasons for the creation of advocacy groups such as The Alliance for Taxpayer Access in the US.[60] Examples of people who might wish to read scholarly literature include individuals with medical conditions (or family members of such individuals) and serious hobbyists or 'amateur' scholars who may be interested in specialized scientific literature (e.g. amateur astronomers). Additionally, professionals in many fields may be interested in continuing education in the research literature of their field, and many businesses and academic institutions cannot afford to purchase articles from or subscriptions to much of the research literature that is published under a toll access model. Even those who do not read scholarly articles benefit indirectly from open access.[61] For example, patients benefit when their doctor and other health care professionals have access to the latest research. As argued by open access advocates, open access speeds research progress, productivity, and knowledge translation.[62] Every researcher in the world can read an article, not just those whose library can afford to subscribe to the particular journal in which it appears. Faster discoveries benefit everyone. High school and junior college students can gain the information literacy skills critical for the knowledge age. Critics of the various open access initiatives[who?] point out that there is little evidence that a significant amount of scientific literature is currently unavailable to those who would benefit from it.[63] While no library has subscriptions to every journal that might be of benefit, virtually all published research can be acquired via interlibrary loan.[64] Note that interlibrary loan may take a day or weeks depending on the loaning library and whether they will scan and email, or mail the article. Open Access online, by contrast is faster, often immediate, making it more suitable than interlibrary loan for high paced research. Due to the benefits of open access, many governments are considering whether or not to mandate open access to publicly funded research. However, some organizations representing publishers, such as the DC Principles group in the United States, feel that such mandates are an unwarranted governmental intrusion in the publishing marketplace. Lobbying on both sides is fierce, both for pro-OA and contra-OA. In developing nations, open access archiving and publishing acquires a unique importance. Scientists, health care professionals, and institutions in developing nations often do not have the capital necessary to access scholarly literature, although schemes exist to give them access for little or no cost. Among the most important is HINARI,[65] the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative, sponsored by the World Health Organization. HINARI, however, also has restrictions. For example, individual researchers may not register as users unless their institution has access,[66] and several countries that one might expect to have access do not have access at all (not even "low-cost" access) (e.g. South Africa).[66] Many open access projects involve international collaboration. For example the SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online),[67] is a comprehensive approach to full open access journal publishing, involving a number of Latin American countries. Bioline International, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping publishers in developing countries is a collaboration of people in the UK, Canada, and Brazil; the Bioline International Software is used around the world. Research Papers in Economics (RePEc), is a collaborative effort of over 100 volunteers in 45 countries. The Public Knowledge Project in Canada developed the open source publishing software Open Journal Systems (OJS), which is now in use around the world, for example by the African Journals Online group, and one of the most active development groups is Portuguese. This international perspective has resulted in advocacy for the development of open-source appropriate technology and the necessary open access to relevant information for sustainable development.[68][69] A 2004 study of open access publishing by Kristin Antelman found that in philosophy, political science, electrical and electronic engineering and mathematics, open access papers had a greater research impact.