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Open access to scientific knowledge has reached its tipping point

Open Source.com - A recent study funded by the European Commission and undertaken by analysts at Science-Metrix, a Montreal-based company that assesses science and technology organizations, has concluded that half of all published academic papers become freely available in no more than two years.

According to the study, the year 2011 is a milestone for open access. By this analysis, 50% of all scientific articles published in 2011 are currently available in some open access form or another, and the trend is toward more and more articles becoming open access.

The study says that the "free availability of a majority of articles has been reached in general science and technology, in biomedical research, biology, and mathematics, and statistics."

According to the study’s lead author and Science-Metrix president Éric Archambault, these results indicate a "tipping point" in open access availability. No doubt this is major news for a publishing industry traditionally accustomed to regular subscription fees in exchange for scholarly research.

"The open access movement has reached a kind of critical mass," says Archambault. "It’s only going to accelerate. There are a lot of people behind it: governments, academia, even publishers to an extent. It’s here, and it’s here to stay."