Helping science succeed
Helping science succeed

Reading & Videos

Background Materials

The following list was compiled in 2015 as training material for OSI2016 delegates. Much of the information listed here is now dated. However, as a primer to the general issues of open access, these resources are still valuable. For a more complete and updated list of resources, please see the reference sections of OSI’s most recent policy perspectives.

Overview of the open challenge

SHORT VIDEOS (44 minutes total)

  • What is open access? There are a wealth of materials that can provide a good overview of the OA landscape, from Peter Suber’s seminal 2012 book to the many instructional guides published by university libraries. Every description seemingly has its own focus, though—every advocate and critic can slice and dice these definitions because the concepts involved are nuanced, multifaceted and evolving. At a 10,000-foot level, this short video by Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen provides a clear and entertaining take on the fundamental motivations and philosophy behind open access publishing—why it’s important and where OA advocates would like to see it go.

    (PhD Comics: Oct 25, 2012)

  • What is the role of the publisher in the current model of scholarly publishing? This short video from Elsevier goes over some of the tasks that large publishers manage. This recording was made from a webcast and isn’t very high quality, but it does provide a reasonably thorough overview.

    (Elsevier: Sept 12, 2012)

  • Scholarship is evolving, as well as public attitudes and expectations toward open information. To embrace these changes, cultural and structural changes are needed in scholarly communication, which will require broad and frank conversations between many stakeholder groups. In this overview by JISC, the growing role and importance of open scholarship is described.

    (JISC: Oct 20, 2014)

  • A free flow of information goes to the heart of science, says former PLOS CEO Elizabeth Marincola. Does free flow need to mean free, or is there a way to reconcile the tension between marketplace and public good?

    (TED: May 7, 2013)

  • Famed chemist George Whitesides gives a series of short interviews on science writing and publishing. The single video linked below gives Whiteside’s quick take on the changing future of science communication. Also included in this collection of videos are details about the publishing process at the American Chemical Society (optional viewing).

    (ACS: April 29, 2011)


  • Open Science Initiative Working Group. “Mapping the Future of Scholarly Publishing.” Feb 2015. Seattle: National Science Communication Institute.
  • Jon Tennant. (2018, July 30). Foundations for Open Scholarship Strategy Development: First formal release (Version 1.2). Zenodo.
  • Mark Ware and Michael Mabe. The STM Report. 2015 ed. Oxford: International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers.
  • Martin Paul Eve. Chapter 4 in Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies and the Future. 2014. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Research Information Network, “Monitoring the Transition to Open Access.” Aug 2015.

Overview of open access

SHORT VIDEOS (about 62 minutes)

  • In this 3-minute interview with UNESCO open access manager Bhanu Neupane, Dr. Neupane describes how an overarching policy on open access is essentially lacking in Latin America and how working together toward open access shouldn’t be a competition.

    (CLACSO: Nov 2015)

  • Why open access? This 2-minute promotional video from the Coalition of Open Access Policies (COAPI) gives the high-level pitch for why open access is important.

    (COAPI: Oct 2015)

  • In this 3-minute video from University College London, UCL researchers discuss why OA is important to them and to their research. (UCL: Jan 2016)
  • In this 2-minute NIH interview with Pieter Dorrestein of UCSD, Dr. Dorrestein describes some of the challenges and promises of open data.

    (NIH: Jul 2015)


  • In this 5-minute 2014 interview with Martin Paul Eve, Dr. Eve talks about the open access challenges that are specific to the humanities.

    (Cambridge: Nov 2014)

  • In this 11-minute presentation at the 2010 4th World Congress on Controversies in Neurology (CONy), Dr. Rudy Castellani takes an interesting “consumer perspective” against open access publishing (Dr. Castellani is a pathologist by training, not a publishing expert, but he presents a lucid case for a wide range of concerns about OA). (4th World Congress on Controversies in Neurology: 2010).
  • What impact would there be on science if everything was published, not just positive results? In this 13-minute TED video, Ben Goldacre suggests that about half of all clinical trials are buried, and positive findings are twice as likely to be published as negative findings. What is the impact of this publication bias on medicine and public health? Is this research misconduct? (TED: Jun 2012)
  • Why CC-BY? In this 18-minute TED presentation, Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig discusses the need for “common sense” in accommodating today’s remix culture. (TED: Mar 2007)
  • In this 4-minute video, Professor Douglas Kell from the University of Manchester explains the value of CC-BY in chemistry research. (University of Manchester: Jan 2015)
  • What is copyright anyway? In this video from the American Chemical Society (which has also produced many other great instructional videos on scholarly publishing), Eric Slater describes what copyright law does and does not cover in scholarly publishing. (ACS: Mar 2013)
  • In this 8-minute August 2011 interview, Brewster Kahle describes the goal of universal access to our cultural heritage. The current challenge is establishing the roles, rights, and responsibilities of our libraries and archives in providing public access to this information. (Democracy Now!: Aug 2011)


  • Open access can be an alphabet soup of colors and acronyms. This old but still very useful web page by OA pioneer Peter Suber does a great job of explaining what’s what: (Suber: 2012). For an even better description of OA, download Suber’s seminal treatise on this subject (linked below under reading).
  • How did the modern open access begin? On December 1-2, 2001, the Open Society Foundation’s Open Society Institute (OSI) adjourned a meeting in Budapest of leading open access proponents. The goal of this meeting was to see how the many existing open knowledge initiatives could assist one another and how OSI could use its resources to help the cause. What came out of this meeting —the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI)—is what we now recognize as the modern framework for open access in peer reviewed research literature. (BOAI: last updated 2012)
  • This paper by Raym Crow looks at the income models for open access publishing. It’s a little dated (2009), but still a good reference that documents options for the funding of open access. (SPARC: 2009)
  • What are some of the assumptions we make about the moral superiority of open access? This article isn’t definitive, but it does a good job of summarizing some of the key issues and questions in this discussion. (First Monday: Feb 2010)
  • Peter Suber’s seminal 2012 book on open access is an easy read, and the most complete and authoritative description of OA available. (MIT: 2012)
  • Is more open access the cure for Africa? Writes Williams Nwagwu, “In spite of the huge volume of information that is downloaded by African scholars on a daily basis, the real Africa and the real African contribution to global development can only emerge when Africa is able to create, store and disseminate, and sustain its own knowledge and technology, and contribute this to world knowledge stock.” (Journal of Academic Libarianship: January 2013)
  • In his 2008 “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto,” Aaron Swartz said that sharing information was a “moral imperative” and advocated for “civil disobedience” against copyright laws pushed by corporations “blinded by greed” that led to the “privatization of knowledge.” (Huffington Post: Feb 2013)
  • How do academic institutions manage an online open access research repository? What are the steps in this process? This tutorial from Stellenbosch University Library gives a good overview of the repository universe. (Stellenbosch University).
  • In this 2012 report from the DC-based Committee for Economic Development, the costs and benefits of increased public access at NIH are examined. For a quick review of the conclusions and recommendations, start on page 35). (CED: 2012)
  • A new book by open access pioneer John Willinsky – The Intellectual Properties of Learning, A Prehistory from Saint Jerome to John Locke – looks at the historical foundations and influences of scholarly publishing and copyright and suggests how these origins might inform today’s conversations on this topics.

Overview of scholarly publishing

SHORT VIDEOS (about 65 minutes total)

  • Historian Aileen Fyfe from the University of St. Andrews speaks about the past and future of scholarly publishing in her September 2015 keynote address at OASPA. Time index 27:25-45:30 focuses on peer review; the first 27 minutes are a wonderful history of scholarly publishing if you have time, and the Q&A session (to time index 54:24) is also great.

    (Zeeba: Sept 30, 2015)

  • What is the role of research libraries and scholarly publishing in supporting the research of tomorrow? This 30 minute video features Catherine Murray-Rust, Vice Provost for Learning Excellence and Dean of Libraries at the Georgia Institute of Technology. (Elsevier: Feb 13, 2013)
  • Derek Groen, a lecturer at Brunel University London, speaks to some of the unique perspectives, concerns and ideas that early career academics have regarding scholarly publishing in (you can start at about time index 1:00). (University College London: Sept 30, 2015)
  • Gary Spencer, Associate Director of Product Management in Wiley’s Global Research Division, ponders the staying power of the PDF format in scholarly publishing. The presentation includes a brief history of digital publishing, and a look at how PDF and HTML have evolved. (Wiley: Nov 11, 2013)


  • Joyce Ogburn’s book chapter on the history and future of scholarly communications principles provides a good foundation for understanding why scholcomm reform efforts look the way they do:
  • Diane Harley’s 2010 work, “Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An Exploration of Faculty Values and Needs in Seven Disciplines,” gives a great overview of the unique and common challenges of scholarly communication across disciplines. (Berkeley: 2010).
  • Harley also takes an exhaustive look at the peer review system (particularly in relation to academic promotion) in “Peer Review in Academic Promotion and Publishing: Its Meaning, Locus, and Future.” (Berkeley: 2011).Mark Ware has also written a wonderful overview of the peer review and journal submission and editing process. (Publishing Research Consortium: 2013)
  • What is the future of scholarly scientific communication? These proceedings from the Royal Academy’s April 2015 conference highlight the ideas of participants. (Royal Society: April 2015)
  • Nature ran a very interesting series of articles in a special issue in 2013 focusing on the future of scholarly publishing. (Nature: 2013)
  • In these proceedings from the Science Communication Institute’s 2013 “Journals & Science” conference,  speakers weigh in on a constellation of issues at the intersection of science and publishing, from peer review to tenure to impact factors and more. (Science Communication Institute: Nov 2013)
  • What do publishers do? This Scholarly Kitchen post by Kent Anderson details a few of the contributions (96 to be exact) publishers often make to scholarship beyond their more visible activities like peer review, editing, formatting and printing. (Scholarly Kitchen: Feb 1, 2016).
  • A study done at Cambridge University toward the end of 2013 looked at how the university could meet the compliance requirements of the RCUK open access policy. This article by Danny Kingsley notes that that there is no contact with the university during the process of research and publishing—there is no official checkpoint where academics had to tell the University about what they were doing. (Cambridge: Feb 1, 2016)

Evolving open

SHORT VIDEOS (about 47 minutes)

  • In 2015, the Berkeley Institute for Data Science hosted a panel discussion on the future of open science and publishing. Click on speaker names to view their presentations (Ann Gabriel, Jeff Mackie-Mason, Andrew Tein). (BIDS: Dec 2015)
  • Successfully confronting public health emergencies in the future will mean making biomedical research and data more available. Aside from the technical approaches being explored (see the “other projects” section, below), another approach is to try changing the culture of data sharing in research. In this 10-minute TED video by Pardis Sabeti, Dr. Sabeti speaks about her experiences on the front lines in Sierra Leone in 2015 fighting the Ebola epidemic. (TED: May 2015)


  •  A new report drawing on survey data from 40,000 respondents details how readers discover content in scholarly publications and how these discovery patterns have changed over the last 10 years. (Simon Inger Consulting: 2015)
  • Hybrid open access is growing but this approach is not without its critics. A report issued in 2016 by the Wellcome Trust notes that the quality of service and cost with hybrids does not compare favorably with fully open journals. (Wellcome Trust: Mar 2016)
  • Are secret OA deals between publishers and libraries good for open access? With no pricing models and best practices to follow, some have suggested that more transparency would be healthy for the future of OA. Click here to read this recent Scholarly Kitchen article by David Crotty. (Scholarly Kitchen: Feb 16, 2016)
  • What is some of the more important (and still active) legislation involving open access? The SPARC website provides a good summary (
  • “One of the inconvenient truths that the OA movement prefers not to discuss,” writes Richard Poynder, “is the fact that a large amount of the content in the circa 4,125 institutional repositories created by research institutions in order to provide open access to their research output is not actually freely available but on ‘dark deposit’, or otherwise inaccessible. In other words, it is not open access.” (Richard Poynder: Dec 2015)
  • Making clinical trial data more compete, open and immediate is a goal shared by many open knowledge advocates. But the road will be bumpy—and this is just the road we can see right now. (NEJM: Oct 24, 2013)
  • Can we get to open science by design? The National Academies published an overview of this challenge in mid-2018. Their report gives a solid overview of the many entangled issues and viewpoints. Although the policy recommendations put forward aren’t specific enough to be actionable, they form a good starting point for discussion (see a critique of these recommendations in the OSI website). (NAS: 2018)
  • Article-processing charges alone are not enough to assess the financial impact of open access on universities. New hybrid arrangements consist of APCs in combination with subscription costs. Writes author Stephen Pinfield, “It is becoming increasingly important therefore that institutions understand the total costs for a given publisher’s products to manage their resources effectively.” (Wiley: Feb 2015)
  • Eric Archambault is the lead author in this 2014 paper which provides a clear and thoughtful analysis of the current state of open scholarship and open publishing.
  • Another worthy entry into the effort to catalog the current state of OA comes from Piwowar and Priem’s Feb 2018 paper.
  • Research Consulting recently produced a report for the EU regarding the future of open research data, including summarizing research perspectives, roles and responsibilities, funder policies, infrastructure, and costs.
  • This 2018 report from COAR (the Coalition of OA Repositories) details its latest recommendations.

Information & society

SHORT VIDEOS (about 31 minutes)

  • In this 6-minute video, Duke Professor Cathy Davidson talks about the impact of education on society and about the changing nature of education—that education today isn’t just about the facts, but about sharing what we know and realizing when we don’t know enough. (Big Think: Apr 2012)
  • In this 4-minute video, Charlie Rose interviews Bruce Alberts, Shirley Ann Jackson and Paul Nurse about the value of studying science and how we might improve our approach to teaching science in the future. (Charlie Rose: Apr 2008)
  • Society’s attitude toward truth and science must begin with the voting public and not with our elected officials. In this interview with Slate magazine, Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about the importance of science to society and an informed democracy. (Slate: Oct 2015)
  • What is the future of information in society? In this 17-minute TED talk, Don Tapscott outlines the four principles of openness in the Internet world: collaboration, transparency, sharing, and empowerment. What changes will the Internet bring about, especially in the hands of the incoming generation of digital natives? (TED: Jun 2012)


  • What are the biggest misconceptions that people have about scholarly publishing? This post by OSI delegate Ann Michael (and featuring commentary by several other OSI delegates) provides a good look at some of the conversation points that often come up. (Scholarly Kitchen: Mar 23, 2016)
  • Is our scholarly publication system distorting scholarship and misdirecting research expenditures? Writes author Neal Young (et al), “the current system abdicates to a small number of intermediates an authoritative prescience to anticipate a highly unpredictable future. In considering society’s expectations and our own goals as scientists, we believe that there is a moral imperative to reconsider how scientific data are judged and disseminated.” (PLOS Medicine: Oct 2008)
  • Journal publishing is not diverse. In a recent study of 4 million peer-reviewed, scientific articles between 2008 and 2012, 70% of the authors were men. A lack of diversity in publishing—not only gender but geography and race—affects who gets published and even what we research. (ACRL: 2016)
  • Are universities making an adequate effort to translate their research work for the greatest benefit of society? Are we dividing ever more scarce research funding appropriately? Is the pressure to justify research spending leading to suboptimal outcomes? Are private foundations with distinct agendas causing an unintended problem by driving project selection? ” (Chronicle of HIgher Ed: January 2016)
  • In this recent interview with Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech professor who studied the lead levels in Flint Michigan’s water supply, the case is made that if our systems to support scientists do not allow them to speak out and be heard, then we are helping corrode the public’s faith in science. (Chronicle of Higher Ed: Feb 2, 2016)
  • Transparency and reproducibility in science don’t necessarily stem from deceit, but from a lack of clear understanding by scientists about what is required and expected. This NIH training module provides a useful summary. (NIH)
  • The Internet has brought profound new benefits to society, but also profound new challenges. Thomas Friedman argues that achieving real change requires much more than just generating a big social media presence, and that in fact (contrary to the hypothesis of Don Tapscott in his TED talk, above), this kind of presence might also erect unintended barriers to change. (New York Times: Feb 4, 2016)
  • What are the academic, economic and social impacts of open? It’s hard to say for sure, but this 2016 paper by Jon Tennant et al suggests that the impacts may be positive across the board.
  • Does open have an impact on science? This 2018 paper by Caroline Wagner et al looks at the relationship between open and research in countries around the world.