The idea of open science and open access to knowledge – in its various instances – is one of the central ideas of the modern age. Its origins reach back to 17th century and the development of first scientific journals – with time, it slowly matured, gaining ground, entering the wider context of modern rationality. The belief in the advantages that access to knowledge can provide is the foundation of the contemporary model of democratic education, intended to ensure fair distribution of knowledge and encourage common participation in its resources. In the age of globalisation and information revolution, the ideas upheld by pioneers of modern science can finally be fully implemented. Modern technologies make it easy to store, process and distribute content, which allows for fast and easy exchange of ideas. Distributing research findings and scientific publications is now easier than it has ever been before. That said, despite the availability of tools allowing to cross many barriers, free distribution of knowledge is still hampered by many obstacles. Removing them is the chief goal of the open science movement.
The idea of open science considers it a priority not only to ensure free access to the final results of research works – or, as it is, open access to scientific articles – but also encourage the use of open models in other areas of scientific work, like sharing raw data, or conducting research in “an open notebook”. Open science can be considered an important element of modern knowledge society, understood as a striving to constantly expand the scope and freedom of how the results of scientific research are used, which not only facilitates information transfer and its costs, but also strengthens democratic principles in knowledge distribution, preventing exclusion. In this regard, the ideas of open science are in line with open education resources and open education policies.
Open access – in regard to scientific content – not only dictates that the content be freely available on the Internet, but also that every user should be able to save it to a disc or another data carrier, copy, print, disseminate, search out, link and use it in any legally allowed manner, without any legal, financial or technical limitations, apart from those concerning Internet access.
Open science model is currently approved and recommended by many institutions, especially those responsible for implementing policies in the scientific domain. Open science is supported by, among others: The United Nations, the European Commission and the European Research Council. Individual scientific institutions and funding bodies tend to appreciate this model ever more, obliging their employees or donees to share their research findings according to this paradigm. Publishing scientific literature in open access becomes ever more popular, raising no major controversies. A more important issue is conducting open research and sharing data findings before they are fully developed. Even though the resistance against distributing content openly has been broken, and it seems that it shall soon become a universal model of scientific knowledge transfer, opening the research model still needs much detailed consideration, taking into account all the dynamic changes in the institutional system of science.
It needs to be emphasised that adopting open science by no means carries the risk of lowering the quality of scientific content that is made openly available. The changes in the current distribution model have not eliminated factors such as peer-review, which is intended to assure high quality of published materials. Moreover, the segment of open journal publishers is constantly growing, proving that even from an economic point of view open science can be attractive.