What is open access?

Open access to scientific literature is a way of disseminating research articles digitally, free of charge and in compliance with copyright.
The open access movement began in the 90s, thanks to the rise of the Internet. Its origins lie in the desire to provide free online access to scientific publications. It has developed through the creation of open archives, founding texts, new forms of publication and political incentives from governments and institutions.

In this text, the notion of two strategies appears for the first time: self-archiving (an author freely places his or her own work online in "archives" created for this purpose by institutions) and journals offering open access publication.

This declaration defines two conditions that publications must meet to be open access: a free and irrevocable right to access, copy, use, distribute and make derivative works; and deposit in an open archive ensuring open access, interoperability and long-term archiving.

  • The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, signed on October 22, 2003

The signatories call for open access to the world's scientific literature and all the data and software used to produce this knowledge. It extends the notion of open access to all works and data resulting from research work, to all disciplinary fields and to cultural heritage.

  • Launch of the Plan S in January 2021. The brainchild of cOAlition S, a group of research funding agencies committed to the development of open science, including ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche), Plan S sets the principle of free and immediate dissemination of publications funded by these agencies in open access journals, platforms or open archives.
  • The HR Excellence in Research (HRS4R) label, awarded by the European Commission, recognizes institutions that have signed the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers, and is a condition for obtaining European funding. The Charter for Researchers includes a section on "Ethics and good professional practice", which includes open science practices.
  • Article 30 of the 2016 Law for a Digital Republic is part of the international movement for open access to scientific publications and the circulation of scientific knowledge. This law enables researchers to assert a right against publishers to deposit their publications in open access as long as they result from research activity financed at least half by public funds, subject to compliance with an embargo of 12 months for the humanities and social sciences, and 6 months for science, technology and medicine.
  • Launched in 2018, the first National Plan for Open Science (2018-2021) goes further than the Law for a Digital Republic. It is built around 3 axes: the opening of publications, the opening of data and the inclusion of French action in a sustainable and international dynamic.

This first National Plan for Open Science has led to major advances: France has a coherent and dynamic open science policy, and the rate of French scientific publications in open access has risen from 41% in 2017 to 56% in 2019.

The second national plan for open science was published in 2021, and it continues its ambitions : the aim is to open up the entire research process, publications of course, but also data and source codes. This plan has been organized around 4 axes: generalizing open access to publications; structuring, sharing and opening up research data; opening up and promoting source codes produced by research, transforming practices to make open science the default principle.