Open access

The movement for free and open access to the results of publicly funded scientific research created within the international scientific community in response to publishers' monopolies on scientific publication and the high cost of subscriptions. 

Open access to scientific literature is its free availability on the public internet, allowing anyone to read, download, copy, transmit, print (etc.). The literature can be used for any other legal purpose, without financial, legal or technical barriers other than those that are inseparable from internet access and use.
This was the Budapest Open Access Initiative , 2002

Therefore, the principle is that full texts of research should be freely and openly accessible to anyone anywhere without restrictions on the use of publications being imposed by publishers on authors.


Access is open when texts are available online without restriction, open to all without technical or commercial barriers.


Access is free when in addition there is the opening of rights or freedom to reuse all the content disseminated (Creative Commons licences).


In the Budapest initiative, several strategies were defined to implement this open access dissemination of scientific literature, such as open access journals and open archives. Nowadays, other hybrid means such as epigraphs are being added as non-exclusive and complementary means to allow open access.

An open access scientific journal meets the quality requirements of the articles (procedures for scientific evaluation and selection of texts; peer-reviewing) and has funding that allows the widest possible digital dissemination without restrictions of access and use.

An open archive is an open access repository where researchers themselves deposit their scientific research and teaching work making it openly accessible.

The term embargo is used to define the contractual period during which the author may not deposit an article in an open archive. We speak of a mobile barrier to define the period during which the articles of a journal are not in open access on the publisher's site (access by subscription).

When we talk about free access, it does not mean without payment: Access is free but maintaining an open archive and/or making and distributing a journal in open access has a cost!

Today, we are witnessing a change of scale. Open access, initially supported by researchers, is now sustained by universities, institutions and governments.

Scientific publications are a major challenge for French research institutions. Since 1984, the law has assigned universities the mission of disseminating knowledge and research results.

Initiative de Budapest pour le libre accès, 2002

Points worth knowing

  • digital technology is an essential vector for the visibility of a researcher's work;
  • it is fundamental to develop the impact of such work;
  • free and sustainable access to scientific publications is a decisive change in the process of dissemination and transfer of scientific work;
  • the new Research Code (2013) recommends that open access modes of dissemination are favoured;
  • the dissemination of results is an integral part of the process of research.

In the Horizon 2020 framework, the European Commission requires that all scientific production funded under its programmes are subject to free and reusable archiving. The target was 60% in 2016 and 100% in 2020. The Commission recommends that member states put in place open access policies.

Recommandation de la Commission européenne du 17 juillet 2012
Communiqué Horizon 2020, 3 décembre 2013

In its turn, France legislated with the law for a digital Republicof October 7th2016 and its article 30:

When a scientific paper results from a research activity that is financed to the level of 50% or more by grants from the State, regional or local authorities, or public establishments, by subsidies from national funding agencies or by European Union funds its future is followed closely. If it is published in a periodical appearing at least once a year, even after having granted exclusive rights to a publisher the author shall have the right to publish, the right to make available free of charge the final version of the manuscript. It will be accepted for publication in an open format by digital means, subject to the agreement of any co-authors. This is provided that the publisher himself makes the manuscript available free of charge by digital means. Failing that, publication in an open format will be upon expiry of a certain period running from the date of first publication. This period shall be a maximum of six months for a publication in the fields of science, technology and medicine and twelve months for a publication in the field of humanities and social sciences.