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Articles appearing in journals published by BioMed Central are 'open access'. A universally accepted definition of the term was provided in the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing in 2003:
- The article is universally and freely accessible via the Internet, in an easily readable format and deposited immediately upon publication, without embargo, in an agreed format - current preference is XML with a declared DTD - in at least one widely and internationally recognized open access repository (such as PubMed Central).
- The author(s) or copyright owner(s) irrevocably grant(s) to any third party, in advance and in perpetuity, the right to use, reproduce or disseminate the research article in its entirety or in part, in any format or medium, provided that no substantive errors are introduced in the process, proper attribution of authorship and correct citation details are given, and that the bibliographic details are not changed. If the article is reproduced or disseminated in part, this must be clearly and unequivocally indicated.
Articles in BioMed Central's journals are published under the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY) to ensure implementation of open access as defined.
Clarifications regarding exceptions and special circumstances
By 'open data' BioMed Central means that these data are freely available on the public internet permitting any user to download, copy, analyse, re-process, pass them to software or use them for any other purpose without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. BioMed Central encourages the use of fully open formats wherever possible. Since September 2013, when an FAQ was also made available, data published in articles are licensed under the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0).
A small number of articles (such as articles co-published with other publishers) are free to access without charge but are not 'open access' according to the definition quoted at the top of this page. Applying by now established terminology, these articles are gratis but not libre. Further details are available on our permissions page.
Until the end of 2014 a number of BioMed Central’s journals required subscriptions for access to reviews and other premium content published in addition to primary research articles which were immediately open access. These journals are:
- Alzheimer's Research & Therapy
- Arthritis Research & Therapy
- Breast Cancer Research
- Critical Care
- Genome Medicine
- Genome Biology
- Stem Cell Research & Therapy
While all original research articles in these journals were open access immediately upon publication, the value-added content such as specially commissioned reviews and commentaries was initially available only by subscription but became free to access after expiry of a fixed period (usually 6 or 12 months after publication). As of January 2015 no subscription fees apply to these journals or to any articles published in them.
All articles that were previously published under subscription (and showing the logo) are now either fully open access (and showing the logo) or they should be treated in the spirit of the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY) and the rights it affords. For such articles we do not require anyone to request permission for re-use provided standard CC-BY license terms are followed; should we receive such permission requests, they will be granted within the CC-BY terms. The only exceptions to this rule are the small number of articles that were co-published under different licensing conditions; please see our permissions page for further details.