Open Access To Scientific information: Policy Guidelines Released by UNESCO

Posted on April 7, 2012 by

From the UNESCO Web Site:

Addressing a major concern of Member States, UNESCO has released a new publication entitled Policy Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Open Access to demystify the concept of Open Access and provide concrete steps on putting relevant policies in place.


Besides strengthening capacities to adopt Open Access (OA) and to serve as a clearing-house on global OA debate, the 187th session of the Executive Board identified provision of upstream policy advice as the core priority while approving the Open Access Strategy on UNESCO’s contribution to promotion of Open Access to scientific information and research.

Building capacities in Member States for Open Access is a necessary but not sufficient condition for promotion of OA. Creating an enabling policy environment in Member States for OA is therefore a priority. The new publication will serve the needs of OA policy development at the government, institutional and funding agency level.

The overall objective of the Policy Guidelines is to promote Open Access in Member States by facilitating understanding of all relevant issues related to Open Access. Specifically, it is expected that the document shall:

  • enable Member State institutions to review their position on access to scientific information in the light of the Policy Guidelines;
  • assist in the choice of appropriate OA policy in the specific contexts of Member States; and
  • facilitate adoption of OA policy in research funding bodies and institutions by integrating relevant issues in the national research systems.

Thus the guidelines are not prescriptive in nature, but are suggestive to facilitate knowledge-based decision-making to adopt OA policies and strengthen national research systems.

The content of the publication is organized in to nine sections:

  • The Development of Open Access to Scientific Information and Research,
  • Approaches to Open Access,
  • The Importance of Open Access,
  • The Benefits of Open Access,
  • Business Models,
  • Copyright and Licensing,
  • Strategies to Promote Open Access,
  • Policy Framework for Open Access, and
  • Summary Policy Guidelines.

The Policy Guidelines also gives a detailed bibliography and glossary of terms and abbreviations used at the end. There are also examples and templates to follow and adopt OA policies.

Written by Dr Alma Swan, an eminent expert in the field of Open Access, the draft went through an open consultation and peer review at the Open Access Community in the WSIS Knowledge Communities. The Policy Guidelines can be used by individuals as a basic text on Open Access and related policies. The publication will be useful to both the beginners as well as experienced in the world of Open Access, and will assist the decision-makers, administrators and research managers to focus on OA policy development.