The History of Open Access

The History of Open Access

Open Access publishing first emerged during the late 1980s and early 1990s when academic self-publishing online became possible using email, newsgroups, and the internet.

This enabled scholars to launch some of the first examples of scholar-driven Open Access journals such as The Electronic Journal of Communication, Psycholoquy, and the Journal of Medical Internet Research which is now a leading journal in its field. Aside from journals, there was also experimentation with repositories such as arXiv, a service for physicists, and the Social Science Research Network, a preprint repository for the social sciences. New technology meant that for the first time, researchers could make scholarly material instantly accessible to anyone, anywhere.

The early 2000s saw the next major phase of Open Access publishing development driven by two new gold Open Access publishers, BioMedCentral and Public Library of Science (PLoS). These publishers launched gold Open Access journals and established the article processing charge (APC) as the central means of financing the professional publishing of Open Access content.

At the same time, tens of thousands of academic researchers across the world signed up to a series of significant declarations, culminating in October 2003 in the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. These declarations encouraged organizations worldwide to advocate for, and support making all scientific literature freely accessible to all readers online.

Significant growth in open access publishing resulted. It is estimated that the number of Open Access articles published increased from 19,500 in 2000 to 191,850 articles in 2009, a growth of almost 900%. Also, many of the first Open Access books were published by organisations such as the Open Humanities Press, as was the first financially viable Open Access textbook, the 2nd edition of the Essentials of Glycobiology.

During the 2010’s, Open Access publishing became mainstream. Research funders around the world, including the US National Science Foundation, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the European Union, and the UK Medical Research Council mandated Open Access publication of findings from the research that they funded. This culminated with Plan S in 2018, in which eleven European funders announced that all research output based on funding from their organisations should be published in full Open Access, and without embargo periods. Plan S further accelerated the shift towards publishing in gold Open Access journals.

Over the last two years, Open Access publishing has showed itself to be so critical to rapid scientific progress and impact that many subscription journal publishers took down the paywalls restricting access to content that would speed up the development of vaccines and treatments for Covid-19.

Sciendo, which was founded in 2001 under the name Versita, pioneered gold Open Access publishing in Central and Eastern Europe. Sciendo’s parent company De Gruyter bought Versita in 2012, and when we expanded our open access publishing services offering in 2018, the business was rebranded as Sciendo

Sciendo remains one of the leading specialist Open Access publishers in Europe. We offer a wide portfolio of gold open access publishing services for journals, books, and conference proceedings, supporting academics and organisations worldwide to enhance the rapid dissemination and global impact of their research

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