International Open Access Week takes place Monday through Sunday and George Mason University will be celebrating on all three of its campuses. Open access is a relatively new phenomenon that grew alongside the rise of the internet in the late ‘80s and ‘90s.

Open access is a worldwide movement that allows scholars to make their content free, immediate and available online for anyone to read, download, distribute or print. Open access articles can be accessed from anywhere by anyone with an internet connection. These articles do not require a username and password.

Open access serves to benefit researchers, educational Institutions and businesses and is used for collaborative purposes. It allows people to get access to data and information that can be used in different ways such as for research and educating workers.

In an open letter to Congress, several Nobel Prize winners wrote, “Open access truly expands shared knowledge across scientific fields — it is the best path for accelerating multi-disciplinary breakthroughs in research.” People in developing countries or small colleges that may not have the money for databases can benefit from open access articles.

“There are lots of very renowned publications that are available only online and have always been only available digitally,” said Claudia Holland, head of Copyright Resources Office. Open access is very important because it “allows access to content that is otherwise essentially barricaded by a price structure,” Holland said.

One of the potential drawbacks of open access is the possible increase of plagiarizing, an ethical issue. Open access does not mean that people can use articles without citing the source from which the information was obtained. Students and other organizations that use open access articles must cite references in appropriate APA or MLA format.

International Open Access Week is a global event that has been in existence for four years. During Open Access Week, informational tables geared towards open access will be set up in the Johnson Center on Mason’s Fairfax campus, at the Mercer Library on the Prince William campus, and in Founders Hall at the Arlington campus. The George Mason statute on the Fairfax campus will be decorated on Monday morning, and all students and faculty are invited to take part in the event.

The main event of Open Access Week will take place on Wednesday in Research I Room 163 from 1:30-3 p.m. at the Fairfax campus.

A panel called Research Unbound Through Open Access will discuss what alternatives exist for people who are interested in publishing and how this is going to impact the understanding of how knowledge is disseminated.

Speakers from the economics department at Mason will give presentations and the Roy Rosenzweig Center of History and New Media will also give a talk on Wednesday.

The panel is open to all Mason students, faculty and staff, and light refreshments will be served. “If you are not familiar with open access, I would hope that you would come and learn about open access, ask questions, have an opportunity to find out more about publishing and what kind of options are available to you, find out just how the industry is changing, and the effects that it’s going to have on our education and our ability to pursue research,” Holland said. “We would love to have students come.”

For more information about International Open Access Week at Mason, students and faculty can visit the Mason open access wiki at