Open access publications are available to anyone, anywhere with a suitable internet connection.
The trend for publishing open access papers has increased year-by-year since it took off around 2000. A 2009 report in Science demonstrates that articles that are published via open access are twice as likely to be cited by scientists in developing countries, although this effect was less apparent in those countries with limited internet connectivity. A report in SciDev.Net also highlights the fact that publishing scientific work through open access outlets also makes the work more readily available to other interested parties, including the media, government officials and students.
Nevertheless, open-access publishing has recently been critized because of the poor reviewing processes of some journals, or dubious charging practices put in place by some publishers (see: Butler-Adam J. Dealing with ‘open access’ demons. S Afr J Sci. 2014;110(5/6), Art. #a0070, 1 page. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/sajs.2014/a0070).
With the benefits of open-access publishing in mind, and allied with TWAS’s goal of making scientific information more readily available throughout the developing world, this page provides links to a number of open access resources that we trust.
Another resource, supported by the intergovernmental organization COMSATS (Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South), is Science Vision, a journal highlighting important scientific and technological developments that have a bearing on socio-economic conditions.
An article from The Scientist, provides links to legal methods to retrieve paywalled articles for free:
- Open Access Button
- How Can I Share It is a website of the International Association of STM Publishers that provides information about publishers’ self-archiving policies, including a tool for researchers to enter their papers’ digital object identifiers (DOI) and automatically see a list of places where specific versions can be posted.
- CHORUS is working to make papers that are required to be shared by funders (such as the National Science Foundation) automatically available on publishers’ websites.
For the most complete listings of open access journals, please visit:
- Directory of Open Access Journals. This service covers free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals.
- Directory of Open Access Repositories. OpenDOAR is an authoritative directory of academic open access repositories.
- The arXiv e-Print Archive, hosted by Cornell University Library, also provides open access to more than 1.9 million e-prints in physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance and statistics.
- The bioRxiv pre-print server for biology is hosted by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
- PeerJ also provides open access pre-print and articles in the biosciences.
- The UNESCO-hosted Global Open Access Portal (GOAP) presents a current snapshot of the status of Open Access to scientific information around the world.
For individual researchers in developing countries:
- The electronic Journals Delivery Service (eJDS) allows individual scientists at institutions in least developed or low-income countries to access current scientific literature, mainly in physics and mathematics. The service requires registration and is cost-free. The articles are sent as email attachments, which can be useful in low-bandwidth situations. eJDS is run by the Marie Curie Library at ICTP in Trieste, Italy, with the participation of leading scientific publishing societies and companies.
For institutions in developing countries:
The Research4Life consortium provides access to eligible institutions through four subject-wise portals:
- HINARI provides access to up to 21,000 journals and up to 69,000 e-books in the biomedical and health literature;
- AGORA provides access to up to 15,500 key journals and up to 48,000 books in more than 115 countries;
- OARE provides access to more than 2,900 journals in the environmental sciences;
- ARDI provides access to about 30,000 journals, books, and reference works for 120 developing countries;
- GOALI, the Global Online Access to Legal Information was launched in March 2018 by the International Labour Organization to provide free or low cost online access and training to law and law-related content to eligible institutions in developing countries.
Thanks to the consortium, journals listed on these sites that are not usually 'open access' are made available for free to eligible institutions.
Note also that BioMed Central has an Open Access Waiver Fund and subsequent no cost policy that supports scientists working in lower-middle-resource countries who wish to publish in BioMed Central journals.
Other resources with links to open access journals:
- ICTP's Science Dissemination Unit has published a book on 'Science Dissemination using Open Access, A compendium of selected literature on Open Access' (eds E. Cannessa and M. Zennaro). It is freely available in English and Spanish.
- www.plos.org/: The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource.
- Eprints in Library and Information Science is an international open access repository for academic papers in Library and Information Science, with over 12,000 papers archived to date.
- A selection of links to international e-publishing resources is available from the Electronic Publishing Trust for Development here.
- Hindawi publish more than 200 open access journals.
- A list of European open access entomology journals.
Links to open access data repositories:
- Open Access Theses and Dissertations. Upload your thesis, or search for other people's theses and download them.
- The US National Academies Press is making all its publications available for free download, including the 40,000 books in the back catalogue.
- US National Academies: NAS/NRC/PNAS reports and other resources are given to many developing nations free of charge.
- GODAN, Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition.
- ChEMBL-NTD - Neglected Tropical Disease archive - an open-access repository of primary screening and medicinal chemistry data.
- Biodiversity Heritage Library. Ten major natural history museum libraries, botanical libraries, and research institutions are digitizing the published literature on biodiversity held in their respective collections and making it available through a global 'biodiversity commons'.
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Free and open access to biodiversity data.
- NERC Open Research Archive. This archive is a central repository for published material such as academic papers or reports that have resulted from research funded by the British Natural Environment Research Council.
- TropIKA.net - Tropical Diseases Research to Foster Innovation & Knowledge Application - provides a wealth of information, including open access papers, on research into tropical diseases.
- Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is devoted to the rapid worldwide dissemination of social science research and consists of an abstract database and an electronic paper collection.
- Using Google Scholar, one can search for key words and phrases in peer-reviewed journal articles, theses, books, technical papers, as well as preprints. It does not return any non-academic websites.
Links to databases:
- ChemSpider - is a free chemical structure database, available at www.chemspider.com, that provides fast text and structure search access to over 26 million structures from hundreds of data sources.
- The Paleobiology Database contains more than 70,000 references, 400,000 taxa, 200,000 fossil collections, and 1.4 million taxonomic occurrences contributed by 542 scientists from 222 institutions in 29 countries aiming to provide researchers and the public with information about the entire fossil record.
- AntBase provides access to the ant species of the world.
- FlyBase - a database of Drosophila genes and genomes.
- The Allen Human Brain Atlas - available at www.brain-map.org - is an online resource that integrates genomic and anatomic human brain data with integrated data visualization and mining tools that enable scientists to uncover connections between structure, function, and the brain's underlying biochemistry.
Links to open access teaching resources:
- WikiPremed is a comprehensive open access course in college physics, chemistry, organic chemistry and biology. See http://www.wikipremed.com.
- The Library of Alexandria Supercourse is a collection of over 3.7 million academic PowerPoint lectures categorized into various disciplines. Educators are encouraged to borrow slides to improve their teaching.
- Open Door - multinational science teaching site: www.saburchill.com
- EUROGENE, a project sponsored by the European Commission, is a multilingual reference portal for genetics training. It brings together top quality digital educational content, which allows educators to search for and assemble multilingual pedagogic and scientific peer-reviewed materials into customizable lecture support materials. See www.eurogene.eu.
- Mathematics: Dr. William Trench's Introduction to Real Analysis, originally published by Pearson Education, can be downloaded here.
- The African Virtual University (AVU) operates an interactive Open Education Resources (OER) portal 'OER@AVU' containing resources developed together with 12 universities in 10 African countries.
Links to open access scientific software:
- Ubuntu Science Alternatives To Proprietary Software.
- Zotero is a powerful, easy-to-use research tool that helps you gather, organize, and analyse sources and then share the results of your research.
- Scribus is an open-access desk-top publishing software programme suitable, for example, for the design of poster presentations.
- Get With the Program is an article by Jeffrey M. Perkel published in The Scientist on 1 August 2015 giving do-it-yourself tips for adding coding to one's analysis arsenal.
Links to science news sites:
- Alphagalileo - www.alphagalileo.org - The world's independent source of news from science, health, arts, humanities, technology and high-tech business.
- Eurekalert - www.eurekalert.org - Science news service run by AAAS.
- ResearchSEA - www.researchsea.com - is a specialized research news dissemination service for Asia. It aims to get good research into mainstream media for better public understanding of research. Registration is free.
- SciDev.Net - www.scidev.net - Science and Development Network. News, views and information about science, technology and the developing world.
Credit for image at the top: Flickr/nengard