Budapest Open Access Initiative

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sat Mar 23 2002 - 09:46:56 MST

Hi all,

I do not normally forward messages from other lists to this one, but the
initiative described in the e-mail I'm forwarding here seems particularly
important, interesting, and pertinent.

Billionaire George Soros has initiated a movement aimed at securing free
Internet access to scientific research papers for all people in the world.

I think this is an important initiative, and one that can potentially play a
significant role in helping to accelerate the Singularity. As scientists
freely donate their research to the world, the world should have free access
to it. Right now many researchers in the Third World have only erratic
access to internationally generated research results, and this is wrong.

Of course, I realize that Soros's (and my) point of view may grate against
some of the more libertarian members of this list. But I'm guessing, not
too badly. The scientific journals that charge $$ for subscriptions are
basically just leeches off the scientific community at the moment.
Scientists write papers, scientists referee them; all the journals do is
print them and change money for them. The journals persist because of
cultural inertia: scientific reputation is made via publication in
well-known journals. Instead, universities should each contribute a small
amount of money to professional organizations like the Americal Physical
Society, the Association for Computing Machinery, etc. The journals run by
these organizations should create print-outs of scientific papers only for
archival purposes, and their main function should be to produce websites
containing peer-reviewed research.

Soros's involvement here is an interesting example of tech-era philanthropy.
Soros is just one of many modern philanthropists doing interesting and
unconventional things with their money. The Gates Foundation has recently
announced a $40M initiative to create high-school/colleges where students
receive their AA degrees along with their high school diplomas (not an
original idea; Simon's Rock College, where I attended, recently opened a
high school of this nature in New York). John Templeton created a
foundation a few years ago, aimed at funding research on the connection
between science and spiritual experience. Etc. Maybe one of these rich
dudes will decide to fund Singularity-oriented R&D, one of these years...!

-- Ben G

-----Original Message-----
From: Society for chaos theory in psychology
[mailto:CHAOPSYC@LIST.UVM.EDU]On Behalf Of Franco Orsucci
Sent: Saturday, March 23, 2002 8:06 AM
Subject: Budapest Open Access Initiative

This message is addressed to CogPrints users and concerns the Budapest
Open Access Initiative (BOAI) launched
on 14 February by George Soros's Open Society Institute.

To be useful, research must be used. To be used (read, cited, applied,
extended) it must be accessible. There are currently 20,000
peer-reviewed journals of scientific and scholarly research worldwide,
publishing over 2 million articles per year, every single one of them
given away for free by its researcher-authors and their
research-institutions, with the sole goal of maximizing their uptake and
usage by further researchers, and hence their impact on worldwide
research, to the benefit of learning and of humanity.

Yet access to those 2 million annual research articles can only be had
for a fee. Hence they are accessible only to the lucky researchers at
that minority of the world's research institutions that can pay for
them. And even the wealthiest of these institutions can only afford a
small and shrinking proportion of those annual 20,000 journals. The
result is exactly as if all those 2 million articles had been written
for royalties or fees, just the way most of the normal literature is
written, rather than having been given away for free by their authors
and their institutions for the benefit of research and humanity.

As a consequence, other researchers' access to all this work, and hence
its potential impact on and benefit to research progress, is being
minimized by access tolls that most research institutions and
individuals worldwide cannot afford to pay.

Those access tolls were necessary, and hence justified, in the Gutenberg
era of print-on-paper, with its huge real costs, and no alternatives.
But they are no longer necessary or justified, and are instead in direct
conflict with what is best for research, researchers, and society, in
today's PostGutenberg era of on-line-eprints, when virtually all of
those Gutenberg costs have vanished, and those remaining costs can be
covered in a way that allows open access.

The Budapest Open Access Initiative is dedicated to freeing online
access to this all-important but anomalous (because give-away)
literature, now that open access has at long last become possible, by

    (I) providing universities with the means of freeing online access
    to their own annual peer-reviewed research output (as published in
    the 20,000 established journals) through institutional

as well as by

    (II) providing support for new alternative journals that offer open
    online access to their full text contents directly (and for
    established journals that are committed to making the transition to
    offering open full-text access online).

It is entirely fitting that it should be George Soros's Open Society
Institute that launches this initiative to open access to the world's
refereed research literature at last. Open access is now accessible,
indeed already overdue, at a mounting cost in lost benefits to research
and to society while we delay implementing it. What better way to open
society than to open access to the fruits of its science and
scholarship, already freely donated by its creators, but until now not
freely accessible to all of its potential users? Fitting too is the fact
that this initiative should originate from a part of the world that has
known all too long and all too well the privations of a closed society
and access denial.

Please have a look at the BOAI at and,
if you or your organization are implementing, or planning to implement
either Strategy I or Strategy II, I hope you will sign the BOAI, either
as an individual or an organization. Over 100 organizations and 1500
individuals worldwide have indicated their commitment already.

Below, are links to some of the press coverage of the BOAI so far.

Best wishes,

Stevan Harnad

Declan Butler, Soros Offers Access to Science Papers (Nature)

Ivan Noble, Boost for Research Paper Access (BBC)

Michael Smith, Soros Backs Academic Rebels (UPI)

Alexander Grimwade, Open Societies Need Open Access (The Scientist)

Denis Delbecq, L'abordage des revvues scientifiques (Liberation, Paris)


Stephane Foucart, Guerre ouverte contre le monopole des revues
scientifiques (Le Monde, Paris),5987,3244--263082-,00.html

Roberto Casati, Soros Project: Articoli scientifici in rete per tutti.
(Il Sole, Italy)

Richard Poynder, George Soros give $3 million to new open access

Sam Vaknin, Copyright and Scholarship (UPI)

Fabrice Node-Langlois, La revolte des savants pour la libre publication

Caroline Davis, Soros gift for open access to journals (Times Higher
Education Supplement Feb 18 2002)

Charles Bailey, BOAI, Current Cites,

Stephen Strauss, "Napster for scientists?" The Globe and Mail March 2
2002 F6.


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