Hello, and Welcome to Open Access! This presentation is meant to give you an overview of the most important topics of the Open Access movement.
This presentation was created by Lauren Fralinger, Annie Pho and Linda Grant.
You might be wondering – what is Open Access? Is it free? How does it work? Is it complicated? How’s the quality? Does it have anything to do with copyright? How do I start an archive? Is an open access archive different from an open access journal? If so, then how?
In this presentation, we’ll answer some of these questions, and in our accompanying handout, provide you with more venues to pursue further information.
First, what is Open Access? Simply put, it’s a movement towards unrestricted access to information, such as scholarly works and research.
It removes barriers of price and permissions.
Just like the traditional publication model, open access is royalty-free. Researchers do not receive payment for their work, but they do receive scholarly recognition. Research, primarily in the STEM subjects, is often funded by federal grants – which comes from taxpayer dollars.
Open access literature is peer-reviewed. Scholarship quality of written articles is not lowered because the content is available for free.
The costs of journals are skyrocketing, as I’m sure you already know. The serials crisis is forcing libraries to find alternative methods of providing access to scholarly research, and open access is one particularly popular method.
Open access journals are often called “gold” Open Access. The Directory of Open Access Journals defines these journals as: “journals that use a funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access.” Open access journals include many subject areas, including the humanities and STEM subjects, and they are peer reviewed.
The DOAJ itself is an international, searchable listing of journals with content that is available for free, online. As of November of 2011, there are over 7,000 journals from around the world included in the directory.
Open access archives, also called “institutional repositories”, are called “green” open access, and can be organized by institution or by discipline. Repositories do not perform peer review themselves, but function as places to store research, in the forms of grey literature, conference proceedings, or peer reviewed articles.
Many universities either encourage – or mandate – that faculty include their research in the university’s repository.
Expenditures are the primary reason behind the open access movement. The chart above illustrates what has happened to the costs of serials over the last two decades, and these costs affect all academic libraries, large or small. With costs rising at four times the speed of inflation, we are all affected.
Why the spike in costs? Simply put, lack of competition. Even though the number of journal titles has increased since 1986, major publishers only tightened their hold on the market, increasing their prices to increase their profits, instead of lowering their prices and competing with each other. Open access is becoming the primary way of challenging the large publishers. So far, though, it has had no tangible effect on driving down costs.
These trends towards open access journals and towards institutional repositories have both their advantages and disadvantages.
Open access archives and journals allow easy access to published research. These repositories, in essence, support the concept of the library being a “people’s university” – along with scholarly books, the public can also access current scholarly research that is of importance to them.
This easy access gives researchers and faculty what they’re looking for – citations, which means impact on the scholarly community. Since researchers are not paid royalties, this kind of exposure can give them the status they need in their fields of study.
Not everyone is Harvard, or MIT, or Yale! Deep pockets bring about deeper access, but is that the only way it can be? Doesn’t a student at a community college deserve the right to have access to the highest quality resources as well? Community colleges, small religious institutions, and teaching universities will have access to the same depth of research that major institutions do.
And even if you are Harvard, MIT or Yale, open access can still save you money. Not having to pay huge subscription fees will free up library funding for other areas – preferably in the library, but even if not, it will show to the administrators that the library is working towards a sustainable, low-cost, high-quality method of accessing research.
And every university - every library - is special. That is clearest in regards to each library’s special collections. Imagine you’re a small, religious institution. Maybe your collections are small next to Harvard’s, but you have some amazing Lutheran works from the 16th century – archiving in an institutional repository will not only bring that collection to the public, it will increase the visibility and prestige of your library and your university. Similarly, say you’re a large, public university with an archive full of newspapers focusing on local African-American history. People interested in genealogy, history, or African-American studies would be able to access and make use of these newspapers – including researchers and students from other universities.
It’s not all positives though. Like any new movement, there are complexities, complications, and challenges to overcome.
One major concern is that the general public may not understand what is being communicated in scholarly research. Does someone with only a high school degree need to be reading about, say, cutting edge medical discoveries? Should that person be able to try self-diagnose?
The humanities and the STEM subjects don’t always mesh in terms of their peer-review quality criteria. Is there any standard set of quality controls on open access journals? Who’s deciding what is acceptable, and what is not?
Though open access supporters maintain it will bring subscription costs down, institutional repositories themselves will cost money, in two ways:
The first is through the creation and maintenance of the repository itself. This will take staffing, whether it is a librarian, paraprofessional staff, student workers, or some combination of the three. Time means money, and someone at the library needs to be putting the repository together and filling it with faculty research and student projects.
The second is through processing fees. Though access to the research is free, publishing still is not. The processing fees would usually come out of the library’s budget, not out of the funding that pays for the research, which means the burden of cost is still on the library. This leaves libraries with the same problem as in the traditional publication model – high costs. Large research universities, in particular, would be subject to this problem, with so many of their faculty performing research. Though still an issue at smaller institutions, universities that focus on teaching will feel the cost somewhat less.
Why is the government getting involved in the debate? Simple – taxpayer dollars support research through federal funding and grants. Though tax dollars are paying for a great deal of research, usually in the STEM subjects, the publishers are essentially locking away the information that taxpayers paid for behind walls of cost.
Federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health, are now requiring that anyone receiving grant money from them is required to submit a Data Management Plan as a part of their grant proposal. These Data Management Plans are meant to describe how research findings will be archived, accessed, and shared, ensuring that the people who paid for the research are also able to access it if they so choose.
For example, let’s consider the National Institute of Health. According the NIH Public Access Policy, scientists who receive funding through the NIH must submit peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that can be archived in Pub Med Central. In addition to NIH funding and peer-review, papers submitted must also have copyright agreements that allow for publication in Pub Med Central.
Why is this important? One, the NIH and NSF are important federal agencies with clout. The fact they are supporting open access gives momentum to the movement. Two, any institution with science or medical programs will be able to access the NIH or NSF archives. Universities with medical or nursing programs can make use of the research freely available in Pub Med, regardless of institution type or size.
The US government and its agencies are not the only ones supporting open access trends. Businesses such as Google, universities such as the University of California, and library partnerships such as the Hathi Trust are also moving towards providing freely accessible research, books, and collections to the public.
Every day, more and more articles, books, special collections and research are available in digitized, open access formats.
Will open access journals and archives really be the way of the future? Maybe, maybe not, but with support from the government, library collectives, and even Google getting in on open access, it’s hard to imagine a future without some form of open access available. There are certainly challenges ahead for open access, and obstacles to overcome, but right now, open access seems to be only picking up steam as time moves forward. The internet has given open access the means with which to disseminate journals, or store large amounts of research in digital archives.
What you’ve heard here is just an introduction to open access. Due to the expanding nature of the subject, there are many different aspects to consider, some of which we’ve only been able to touch on here. Please feel free to make use of the bibliography that accompanies this presentation to begin your search for more information about this important topic.
Open access presentation
Welcome to Open Access!
(a brief introduction to freely available information)
What is Open Access?
• Open access is a movement towards unrestricted access to
scholarly works and research.
• Open access removes barriers of price and permissions.
• Open access is royalty-free. Researchers do not receive
payment for their work.
• Open access literature is peer-reviewed.
• Open access is gaining popularity due to the rapidly rising
costs of journals. Its popularity is in part a response to the
What Does it Mean for My Institution?
•Easy access to published research. Scholarly research is available to everyone, not just to
scholars. It supports everyone’s right to learn.
•Researchers gain additional impact and exposure, and due to this, institutions will gain
prestige and recognition.
•Small, underfunded institutions may also provide excellent resources to their students,
who still require high level research. Poverty and the size of the institution are no longer
barriers to quality information.
•It saves institutions money, whether they are large or small. Having more funds means the
library will be able to allocate money towards other areas in need of financial support.
•Many institutions, large or small, public or private, religious or not, have special collections
that could be digitized and widely shared in institutional repositories.
What Does it Mean for My Institution?
•The general public may not understand what is communicated in the published
research. The articles are written for academia, not the general public.
•Quality criteria for peer review may not be the same between the humanities and the
•The maintenance of institutional repositories will involve staff, which would become
another cost to consider.
•Though access is free, publication still involves processing fees, which means charging
authors or their institutions. These fees often come out of the library budget, not from
research funding. This leaves libraries with the same problem as with the traditional
publication model – rising costs. Large research institutions may find their journal
expenditures rising rapidly due to this.
•Suber, Peter. Open Access Overview. Earlham College. 6 Nov. 2010. Web.
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•Directory of Open Access Journals. Directory of Open Access Journals. Web. 27 Oct. 2011.
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to Do About It)." Change 35.6 (2003): 10-19. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 18
•National Science Foundation. Requirement for Grant Funding.
•National Institute for Health. Requirements for Grant Funding.
•Minbiot, Gregory. “Academic Publishers Make Murdoch Look Like a Socialist.” The
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• Howard, Jennifer. "Lawmakers Hear Arguments for and Against Open Access to
Research." Chronicle of Higher Education . 29092010: n. page. Web. 28 Oct. 2011.
• Joint, Nicholas. "The Antaeus Column: Does the "Open Access" Advantage Exist? A
Librarian's Perspective." Library Review 58.7 (2009): 477,477-481. Library and
Information Science Abstracts (LISA). Web. 17 Oct. 2011.
• Suber, Peter. "Creating an Intellectual Commons Through Open Access." Digital Access
to Scholarship at Harvard. (2004): n. page. Web. 28 Oct. 2011.
•Howard, Jennifer. "Digital Repositories Foment a Quiet Revolution in Scholarship."
Chronicle of Higher Education . 13062010: n. page. Web. 28 Oct. 2011.
•Morrison, Heather G. “The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Implications and
Opportunities for Resource Sharing.” Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Supply and
Electronic Reserve 16.3 (2006): 95, 95-107. Library and Information Science Abstracts
(LISA). Web. 17 Oct. 2011.
•Charles W. “Open Access and Libraries.” Collection Management 32.3-4 (2007): 351, 351-
383. Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA). Web. 17 Oct. 2011.
•Cryer, Emma, and Maria Collins. "Incorporating Open Access into Libraries." Serials Review
37.2 (2011): 103,103-107. Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA). Web. 17 Oct.
•Morrison, H. Scholarly Communication for Librarians. Oxford, UK: Chandos Publishing,
2009, (paperback). ISBN 978 1 84334 488 9.
•Sarli, Cathy. Public Access Policies. Washington, D.C: Association of Research Libraries,
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Services Quarterly 28.3 (2011): 364,364-365. Library and Information Science
Abstracts (LISA). Web. 18 Oct. 2011.
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