Currently viewing the tag: "public access"

Our final Open Access post for the week is a guest post from Judy Rabinowitz, one of our Research & Instruction librarians and a member of Tufts Scholarly Communications Team: 

Open vs. Public Access:  What’s the Difference?

The NIH Public Access Policy, the now well established mandate requiring scientists to submit manuscripts that arise from NIH funds into PMC, made “public access” a familiar phrase to many in the biomedical field.  The White House memo drafted in February 2013, directing a similar charge to research supported by several other government agencies, including NSF, DOE, and the CDC, is poised to make “public access” even more of a household term.  But why are these not just called open access policies?  Where’s the distinction?

OhYesItsFree

By SpiderWeb-MarketingSystems (Own work) [3.0CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL] via Wikimedia Commons


Many times, “public access” and open access” are used interchangeably, but in fact there are important distinctions between them.  It all boils down to the multiple definitions of the word “free.”

Free as in “gratis” – refers to free of charge

Free as in “libre”
– refers to freedom of use

To put it simply, open access encompasses both definitions of free, being free of costs and also free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.  Public access materials, on the other hand, while free of cost to read, do not necessarily have the same freedoms to use and reuse and therefore the “libre” definition may not apply.

Have more questions about open or public access?  Just ask the Tufts Scholarly Communication Team

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