Open Access Working Group

The Open Access Working Group (OAWG), initiated by SPARC, is a group of like-minded organizations that began meeting in the Fall of 2003 to build a framework for collective advocacy of open access to research. The group seeks to build broad-based recognition that the economic and societal benefits of scientific and scholarly research investments are maximized through open access to the results of that research. OAWG aims to bring about changes within stakeholder institutions enabling viable open access models to be widely and successfully implemented and accepted.


1. Build recognition of the benefits of open access (as articulated by the Budapest Open Access Initiative) among:

  • patient advocacy organizations and beneficiaries of research investments among the general public,
  • research funders,
  • federal policy makers, and
  • scholars, scientists, and lawyers.

2. Encourage research funding agencies to adopt policies that advance open access.

3. Gain active support by academic institutions for open access through:

  • allocation of funds to support open access,
  • encouragement of federal policy changes, and
  • development of favorable institutional intellectual property and academic promotion and tenure policies.


The OAWG undertakes collective action in levels of society and physical regions where the interests of its participating organizations are aligned and where its collective voice will achieve greater persuasive force than the individual voice of any single member. As a loosely affiliated working group, not all organizations sign on to all OAWG actions, based on their organization's focus, bylaws, or the needs of their members. Action is taken by subsets of the entire participant roster when appropriate.

A list of actions:

  • Memorandum to UK Committee
    A Feb. 9, 2005, memorandum submitted as evidence to a U.K. House of Commons committee. The memorandum offered testimony on the current state of scholarly communication and recommended actions to support open access as part of the commmittee's Inquiry into Scientific Publishing.
  • Letter to NIH Director
    A letter dated 01.06.04 sent to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni urging NIH to support publishing in open access journals as part of their research grants. This suggestion is included as part of a more general offer to join with the institute in a discussion about the current problems in scholarly communication.
  • Support for the Public Library of Science (PLoS)
    The OAWG supported the launch of their first high profile, open access journal, PLoS Biology, on October 9, 2003. The OAWG continues encouraging PLoS in their open-access journal publishing and institutional membership program.

Participating Organizations

American Association of Law Libraries

With over 5,000 members, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) represents law librarians and related professionals who are affiliated with and serve the nearly one million men and women working in the range of U.S. legal institutions: law firms; law schools; corporate legal departments; courts; and local, state and federal government agencies. The association was founded in 1906 to promote and enhance the value of law libraries to the legal and public communities, to foster the profession of law librarianship, and to provide leadership in the field of legal information.

American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 65,000 members. Its mission is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries

The Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL) is composed of the directors of libraries of 142 accredited U. S. and Canadian medical schools belonging to or affiliated with the Association of American Medical Colleges. AAHSL's goals are to promote excellence in academic health science libraries and to ensure that the next generation of health practitioners is trained in information seeking skills that enhance the quality of health care delivery, education, and research. The Association influences legislation and policies beneficial to the common good of academic health sciences centers and their libraries, including opportunities related to open access and new models of scholarly communication.

Association of College & Research Libraries

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association, represents more than 12,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals. ACRL is the only individual membership organization in North America that develops programs, products and services to meet the unique needs of academic and research librarians. Its initiatives enable the higher education community to understand the role that academic and research libraries play in the teaching, learning and research environments.

Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is an association of over 120 of the largest research libraries in North America. The member institutions serve over 160,000 faculty researchers and scholars and more than 4 million students in the U.S. and Canada. ARLÕs mission is to shape and influence forces affecting the future of research libraries in the process of scholarly communication. ARL programs and services promote equitable access to and effective use of recorded knowledge in support of teaching, research, scholarship, and community service.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is the collaborative effort of practitioners and theorists of law and technology to help bridge the world of copyright and the public domain. Creative Commons is housed at the Stanford Law School, where we share space, staff, and inspiration with the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society.

Greater Western Library Alliance

The Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) is a consortium of 31 research libraries in 16 states in the greater Midwest and Western U.S. GWLA members share common interests in scholarly communication, resource sharing and staff development projects. GWLA was a founding member of BioOne, an electronic scholarly publishing initiative launched in 2001.


Open Society Foundations

The Open Society Foundations (OSF) is a private operating and grantmaking foundation, founded and chaired by George Soros, that serves as the hub of the Soros foundations network, a group of autonomous foundations and organizations in more than 50 countries. OSI and the network implement a range of initiatives that aim to promote open societies by shaping government policy and supporting education, media, public health, and human and women's rights, as well as social, legal, and economic reform.

Public Knowledge

Public Knowledge is a public interest advocacy and education organization that seeks to promote a balanced approach to intellectual property law and technology policy that reflects the "cultural bargain" intended by the framers of the U.S. constitution.

Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource. PLoS has launched a nonprofit scientific publishing venture that will provide scientists with high-quality, peer-reviewed, high-profile journals in which to publish their most important work, while making the full contents freely available for anyone to read, distribute, or use for their own research.

Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition

SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resource Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries and organizations working to correct market dysfunctions in the scholarly publishing system. Developed by ARL, SPARC has over 200 member institutions and affiliates in North America and closely collaborates with SPARC Europe, which represents more than 70 additional institutions in Europe. SPARC's strategies and activities support open access and capitalize on the networked environment to disseminate research more broadly.

Special Libraries Association

SLA is a nonprofit global organization for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners. SLA serves more than 12,000 members in 83 countries in the information profession, including corporate, academic and government information specialists. SLA promotes and strengthens its members through learning, advocacy and networking initiatives. (Observer)

Students for Free Culture

Students for Free Culture is an international chapter-based student organization that promotes the public interest in intellectual property and information & communications technology policy.

University of California-Los Angeles Libraries