Unlocking a Stronger Open Access Ecosystem

Dec 22, 2023
  • Description

Open Science has the potential to increase scientific collaborations and the sharing of information for the benefit of science and society; make multilingual scientific knowledge openly available, accessible, and reusable for everyone; and open the processes of scientific knowledge creation, evaluation, and communication to societal actors beyond the traditional scientific community. 

Among the multiple components of Open Science, open access, which falls under the open scientific knowledge pilar, is at the core of reform efforts. UNESCO defines open access as having "free access to information and unrestricted use of electronic resources for everyone," adding that "any kind of digital content can be open access from texts and data to software, audio, video, and multi-media." The broad nature of Open Science and open access gives room for complexity and controversy—requiring inputs and perspectives from diverse stakeholders within and outside of the scientific community.

Always working at the pulse of critical issues at the intersection of science and society, the Aspen Institute Science & Society Program convened a roundtable of experts from across six countries and multiple sectors to foster what might be considered a 'provocative' conversation on open access, in that participants could not always find common ground on aspects of a future model for open access. This roundtable forms one piece of a constellation of Open Science activities within our program's Global Science pillar.

Four central questions guided the discussion:

  1. What are the obstacles or barriers to open access?
  2. How can we overcome unequal country wealth, technology access, and education across countries to promote the benefits of scientific research toward solving societal issues?
  3. What are financial models for open access to which most (even for-profit) publishers could agree?
  4. How can political solutions (including legislation) help to promote the implementation of open access?