January 11, 2013
JSTOR has granted free public access to parts of its archives, containing millions of scientific articles. This decision does not necessarily mean that JSTOR is moving completely towards Open Access, but it is certainly good news for anyone looking for free research materials.
Nearly 700 publishers have agreed to open access to their titles under this project. This has allowed JSTOR to offer limited free access to the archives of 1,200 journals, which amounts to almost 4.5 million articles! Anyone can register on the JSTOR website and gain access to 3 selected articles every 2 weeks. Articles cannot be downloaded and they can be read online only. This may not be much, but it is a good start.
This offer is an extension of the pilot program Register & Read, which has lasted more than 10 months with the same conditions applied. Over this time, almost 150,000 people had registered to gain access to 76 journals. It is interesting to note that the majority of those were students and only 16% were independent researchers.
The new JSTOR policy cannot be regarded as Open Access per se, especially since it sets such a small limit – 3 articles a fortnight, from of a vast store of 4.5 million and moreover prevents the download of content. This policy is probably dictated in the main by the desire to promote the services of JSTOR without undermining its business model. Even so, this is good news for students, academics and researchers. Any access to published research results, even a limited one, is better than none.