Canada May Be Nearing The Open Access "Tipping Point"

Michael Geist | Michael Geist | October 24, 2013

The power of the Internet to shake up well-established industries has become a common theme in recent years as many businesses struggle to compete with new entrants and technologies. While it has captured limited attention outside of educational circles, the Internet has facilitated the emergence of open access publishing of research, transforming the multi-billion dollar academic publishing industry and making millions of articles freely accessible to a global audience.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that "Open Access Week", which is used by supporters to raise awareness of the benefits of open publishing, is being marked at university campuses around the world this week just as a Canadian study confirmed a global open access tipping point and Canada’s major research funding agencies prepare to mandate open access publishing for grant recipients across the country.

According to a European Commission-funded report by Montreal-based Science-Metrix, more than half of all research publications in some countries and fields of study are now freely available online. The company found that countries such as the United States, Switzerland, Israel, and the Netherlands have all passed the 50 per cent mark for open access publication. Canada is on the verge of joining those countries, falling just shy at 49 per cent.