Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, September 16, 2007

More on defining an OA journal

Anita Palepu, Open Medicine and open access, Canadian Medical Association Journal, September 11, 2007.  A letter to the editor.  Palepu is a co-editor of Open Medicine.

Although the endorsement by CMAJ's editors of open-access medical publishing is welcome, we would like to point out that there is an important distinction between open- and free-access publication. The editors of Open Medicine have not only adopted the principle of free access, that is, making content fully available online, but we also endorse the definition of open-access publication set out in the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing. This definition stipulates that the copyright holder grants to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide and perpetual right of access to, and a licence to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute works derived from the original work, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship. Given that the Canadian Medical Association holds copyright for all material published in CMAJ and charges fees for reprints and in some cases for other uses of CMAJ content, it is not in fact an open-access journal.

In comparison, Open Medicine does not assume the copyright of its authors' work. We believe that it is only fair and just that authors retain the ownership of their work; as such, Open Medicine does not charge reprint or other reproduction fees. We use a Creative Commons Copyright Licence that also ensures derivative works are available through an open-access forum. It is through this creative and unlimited use of published material, with due attribution, that we believe scientific discourse can flourish. This truly open-access forum also has a contribution to make to a journal's integrity, independence and freedom.3 Proof of this potential to flourish lies with PLoS Medicine, an open-access medical journal launched in 2004 that is now the fourth-leading medical journal in the world, with an impact factor of 13.8.