October 14, 2008, has been declared Open Access Day to increase the awareness of Open Access. RePEc, and its predecessors, have been promoting open access for 15 years now, by enhancing the dissemination of preprints, which in Economics are usually called working papers or discussion papers. A quarter million of them are now listed, with many of them being close versions of published articles that are hidden behind a publisher’s paywall. Whenever possible, we link the two versions. The conditions are that the titles be very similar and the author be registered in the RePEc Author Service, having claimed all version in the research profile. RePEc also indexes numerous open access journals, with their article labeled to recognize free downloads.
In this respect, it is important to note that the vast majority of publishers allow authors to publish working papers, in many cases even as post-prints (after publication of the journal article). Through the linking between versions we do in RePEc, this essentially comes to make pay-journals open access. For a list of publishers and there policies, see SHERPA/RoMEO.
Are Open Access works popular? We have not systematically studied this so far, but consider the following. A working paper available online has been downloaded on average 1.77 times in September 2008 (after numerous corrections to eliminate robots and multiple downloads), while the figure stands at 0.97 for journal articles (including those that are open access). Also many working paper series have impact factors superior to many journals, highlighting that researchers in Economics do not hesitate to cite pre-prints.