Issue No. 12 February 18, 2002

Paula Kaufman, University Librarian



The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI), formally announced on February 14, 2002, aims to accelerate progress in the international effort to make research articles in all academic fields freely available on the Internet. It is based on the convergence of our traditional willingness to publish the fruits of our research in scholarly journals without payment and the ability of new technologies to enable easy access to barrier free materials.

BOAI strives to make primarily peer reviewed journal literature freely available on the public internet. This would permit readers to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, is to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

BOAI recommends two complementary strategies to achieve open access to the scholarly journal literature:

But BOAI recognizes that although these are direct and effective means to the goal of open access, they are not the only ones.

BOAI emerged from a meeting of leading proponents of open access systems in Budapest last December, sponsored by the Soros Open Society Institute. The BOAI acknowledges that there are costs to managing peer-review and preparing manuscripts for dissemination and encourages efforts to explore alternative funding models. The Open Society Institute Information Program has pledged $1 million a year for three years to help an open-access system become economically self-sustaining.


Readers of this publication will recall the Public Library of Science initiative, ( BOAI differs from PLOS, which asks existing science journals to provide open access to their contents, in public archives, within six months of print publication. It asks scientists to withhold their labor as authors, referees, or editors, and to withhold their subscription fees, from journals that do not comply. The BOAI differs in the following respects. (1) BOAI applies to all academic fields, not just to the sciences. (2) BOAI is equally committed to open access journals and to self-archiving as a means to achieve open access. (3) BOAI does not demand that existing journals change their access policies, though it hopes they will. Instead, it will raise money to defray the transition costs for those journals willing to make the change, and to create new journals committed to open access. (4) Signatories to the PLOS open letter are asking journals and publishers to make a certain change. Signatories to the BOAI are pledging to make changes within their own power. We are grateful to the PLOS for letting us adapt the signature-gathering software it wrote for its own web site.

UIUC has signed on as a supporter of the Initiative.

Read about the Initiative at For more clarification, see BOAI’s FAQ at


ISSUES IN SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATIONS welcomes your comments and suggestions. Please send them to me at

Paula Kaufman

University Librarian