I stopped updating this page on February 9, 2009, and copied it to the Open Access Directory (OAD), a wiki where it is now open for community editing. —Peter Suber.

Timeline of the Open Access Movement

Formerly called the Timeline of the Free Online Scholarship Movement.

For this purpose, the open-access movement is the worldwide effort to provide free online access to scientific and scholarly research literature, especially peer-reviewed journal articles and their preprints. For more information, see my overview, newsletter, or blog.

I've tried to limit the items to landmark events. Entries are brief in order to save space.

I don't aim to include all open-access journals and open-access eprint archives, just the early pioneers that helped to prove the concepts. So far I'm deliberately omitting individual books, articles, and speeches, no matter how important.

For reference, I've inserted a small number of entries on the history of the internet and world wide web, to show how quickly scholars moved to take advantage of the new technology. The dates for these entries are in a green font.

I try to give year, month, and day for each item. When one or more of these details is missing, that means I don't have them. When I know the year, but not the month or day, I list the item at the beginning of the year. When I know the year and month, but not the day, I list the item at the beginning of the month.

Beware of an illusion based on my collection priorities. I know recent developments best, and I'm particularly interested in discovering and recording the earliest stirrings of this movement. So the entries are thickest at the beginning and the end of the timeline. But that doesn't mean there was a decline in the middle period. As I fill in more of the landmark events, this illusion should disappear.

I welcome additions, corrections, and missing details from incomplete dates. If you can help, please let me know.

Peter Suber
Last revised, February 9, 2009.

Before 1990




















On my page of lists I have two historical lists to supplement this timeline. See the list of journal declarations of independence and the list of university actions against high journal prices.

Return to the Newsletter

Return to the Blog

This timeline has been translated into Japanese. Other translations are welcome.

Wade Garrison has made an interactive version of this timeline.

Peter Suber
Research Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College
Open Access Project Director, Public Knowledge
Senior Researcher, SPARC

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