Open Access by Anja Møller Rasmussen, NIAS Library

10. Oct 2008

A very brief introduction to Open Access:


Open Access literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.


Open Access is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance. Just as authors of journal articles donate their labor, so do most journal editors and referees participating in peer review.


Open Access literature is not free to produce, even if it is less expensive to produce than conventionally published literature. The question is not whether scholarly literature can be made costless, but whether there are better ways to pay the bills than by charging readers and creating access barriers. Business models for paying the bills depend on how OA is delivered.


There are two primary vehicles for delivering Open Access to research: Open Access journals and Open Access archives and repositories.



Open Access to Nordic Asia Research


I believe that the interest of the Asian Studies in general and the Nordic Asian research community in particular will be best served by the adoption of Open Access principles for scientific and research literature.


Publishing is changing, and the Nordic Asian research community needs to respond to the new trends in the publishing industry. Over the last decade the rapid growth of communication technology and e-publishing has led to resources being increasingly available on the Internet as well as in traditional print form.


Open Access – making research knowledge freely available under license, usually via the Internet – presents opportunities for the use and dissemination of development research for those with least access at present. It also poses risks including possible increased costs for the author, a decline in perceived quality control and potential damage to the sustainability of “traditional” research publishing. However, the potential of Open Access has encouraged funders, authors, publishers and librarians to examine new approaches. While areas of dispute still exist, it seems there is willingness among all the stakeholders to explore the advantages, and discuss tackling the disadvantages, of Open Access in a spirit of collaboration.


The dissemination of scientific knowledge requires unrestricted access to research literature and scientific results that is freely available at the point of use. This open-access has been discussed for many years and various declarations (Budapest 2002, Bethesda 2003, Berlin 2003, EADI 2008) signed by hundreds of Nordic organizations have all recommended free access to scientific literature through self-archiving, creation of new open-access journals and the conversion of subscription journals into open-access peer-reviewed publications. An important ingredient for high quality scientific publishing is the peer-reviewing process which is fully compatible with open-access.


I strongly encourage the usage of electronic publishing methods for Nordic Asian Studies publications and support the principle of Open Access Publishing, which includes granting free access of our publications to all. Furthermore, I encourage all collaboration members to publish in easily accessible journals, following the Open Access Paradigm.



In 2007 NIAS LINC received a grant from Nordbib which has enabled us to develop a Open Access project.


The project’s original aim was to develop a joint approach to Open Access and research communication within the Nordic Asian Studies community. Furthermore we also wanted to illustrate how an Open Access model can be used as a mean of solving the problems information dissemination and exchange of research outputs throughout the Nordic Asian Study environment by building a common platform for harvesting and presentation of research outcome.


The basic idea was to offer an integrated set of services to support Open Access publication and research communication and dissemination within the Nordic Asia Research Community. Key concepts were open access to research outputs, common access to databases and electronic journals and scientific collaboration among Nordic researchers and students.


The goal is two fold:


  1. To initiate discussions and actions that will lead to a joint NNC approach to Open Access thereby creating an Open Access Model for Nordic Asian Studies.
  2. Creation of a knowledge sharing and networking platform for easy publishing and access to information including fee-based and Asian language sources.


At the beginning of the project we sat up a row of visible outcome of which:


Visibility of Nordic Asia research and scientific information through Nordic and European Asian related portals and communication services is the far most important


Others include:



As we see it Open Access has started to prove its positive influence on research impact. Indeed, free electronic availability of scientific articles seems to determine higher citation and usage rates.

But despite debates and recommendations from Research Councils and Rectors, researchers seem to dwell upon the well established practice adhering to Open Access on a principle basis but many still harbour doubts.


Through the first phase we have identified issues and problems that we find important to address further in order to fulfil the goal and aim of the original project. 


A small study undertaken as part of the project has revealed that Nordic Asia scholars would opt for Open Access publication either in journals or archives provided that their established habits were not undermined. This implies that Open Access journals need to get a high impact factor value if they are to be chosen as the place to publish research results. Other factors such as the instant access to information allowed by Open Access publishing models and the speed with which results can be made public are also of great importance for researchers. 


The study further revealed that self-archiving in Open Access repositories is consider
ed a duty and that researchers fear that their research disappears in the huge amount of research from much bigger communities. Nordic Asian Scholars are a small community often only a few researchers and students placed as a very little group in a much bigger community and this fact influences to a great extent the researchers wish to present their research in a, for the end user, understandably context as the instead of in cross disciplinary institutional repository. Visibility and impact are huge drives for Open Access publishing.


Rapid dissemination but also validation and peer-review are also of great important. Although much criticized, peer-review and impact factor are the mostly used methods to certify quality research and is widely used by institutions to allocate internal funds and grants, this policy influences especially the small disciplines who needs a strong visibility and peer-reviewed publications in order to secure enough funding.


The project has shown that the concept of Open Access might seem simple but it is complicated to put into practice. It has become very clear that the Nordic Asia Studies community has its own habits and expectations in publishing practice and that the Open Access initiative has to be harmonized with the existing experiences of the community.


The findings can be summarized as following:



Based on the considerable and important experiences obtained through the project; especially concerning researcher attitude towards self archiving and fear of drowning in the numerous institutional Open Access repositories that have been created during the last year, we have decided not to create a new subject repository or  “Bibliography of Nordic Asian Studies” instead we will give Nordic researchers a possibility to publish or rather re-publish their work in a well known electronic context using the and thereby creating the much wanted visibility to both fellow researchers and other end users. The material will be harvested from institutional and national repositories and archives. However, self publishing will be supported through electronic publication tools in Barha, peer-review by a panel of colleagues and visibility via


The platform Barha has been be created as an extension to NNC’s open AsiaPortal and is build on existing social networking and authentication web tools (WAYF). The system will be able to handle Asian languages.  Barha provides an interactive forum for NNC members with valid authentication to network with NIAS / NNC subject matter experts, employees, partners and students as well as share and gather networking best practices.


This set of services will be developed as a case and model to be used by other small subject disciplines. We are convinced that the responses and attitudes we have received through our study are similar and reflect problems and attitudes in other small disciplines.