IFLA Statement on Open Access to Scholarly Literature and Research Documentation

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IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) is committed to ensuring the widest possible access to information for all peoples in accordance with the principles expressed in the Glasgow Declaration on Libraries, Information Services and Intellectual Freedom.

IFLA acknowledges that the discovery, contention, elaboration and application of research in all fields will enhance progress, sustainability and human well being. Peer reviewed scholarly literature is a vital element in the processes of research and scholarship. It is supported by a range of research documentation, which includes pre-prints, technical reports and records of research data.

IFLA declares that the world-wide network of library and information services provides access to past, present and future scholarly literature and research documentation; ensures its preservation; assists users in discovery and use; and offers educational programs to enable users to develop lifelong literacies.

IFLA affirms that comprehensive open access to scholarly literature and research documentation is vital to the understanding of our world and to the identification of solutions to global challenges and particularly the reduction of information inequality.

Open access guarantees the integrity of the system of scholarly communication by ensuring that all research and scholarship will be available in perpetuity for unrestricted examination and, where relevant, elaboration or refutation.

IFLA recognises the important roles played by all involved in the recording and dissemination of research, including authors, editors, publishers, libraries and institutions, and advocates the adoption of the following open access principles in order to ensure the widest possible availability of scholarly literature and research documentation:

  1. Acknowledgment and defence of the moral rights of authors, especially the rights of attribution and integrity.
  2. Adoption of effective peer review processes to assure the quality of scholarly literature irrespective of mode of publication.
  3. Resolute opposition to governmental, commercial or institutional censorship of the publications deriving from research and scholarship.
  4. Succession to the public domain of all scholarly literature and research documentation at the expiration of the limited period of copyright protection provided by law, which period should be limited to a reasonable time, and the exercise of fair use provisions, unhindered by technological or other constraints, to ensure ready access by researchers and the general public during the period of protection.
  5. Implementation of measures to overcome information inequality by enabling both publication of quality assured scholarly literature and research documentation by researchers and scholars who may be disadvantaged, and also ensuring effective and affordable access for the peoples of developing nations and all who experience disadvantage including the disabled.
  6. Support for collaborative initiatives to develop sustainable open access publishing models and facilities including encouragement, such as the removal of contractual obstacles, for authors to make scholarly literature and research documentation available without charge.
  7. Implementation of legal, contractual and technical mechanisms to ensure the preservation and perpetual availability, usability and authenticity of all scholarly literature and research documentation.

This statement was adopted by the Governing Board of IFLA at its meeting in The Hague on 5th December 2003.

Definition of open access publication:

An open access publication is one that meets the following two conditions:

  1. The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, world-wide, perpetual (for the lifetime of the applicable copyright) right of access to, and a licence to copy, use, distribute, perform and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works in any digital medium for any reasonable purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship, as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.
  2. A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission as stated above, in a suitable standard electronic format is deposited immediately upon initial publication in at least one online repository that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organisation that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving.

An open access publication is a property of individual works, not necessarily of journals or of publishers.

Community standards, rather than copyright law, will continue to provide the mechanism for enforcement of proper attribution and responsible use of the published work, as they do now.

This definition of open access publication has been taken from the Position statement by the Wellcome Trust in support of open access publishing and was based on the definition arrived at by delegates who attended a meeting on open access publishing convened by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in July 2003.

Associated documents:

Statements, Scholarly literature, Research documentation, Open access, Intellectual property

Last update: 10 July 2013