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Pacific Lutheran University

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Open Access: Educational Resources and Research

Definition

"Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder." -- Peter Suber, A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access

Characteristics:

  • Freely accessible to all, without charge, institutional authentication requirements, or licensing fees
  • Copyright and/or licensing restrictions on use are mostly or wholly absent
  • Compatible with peer review
  • Funding models that do not depend on reader subscriptions or pay-per-use or per-article fees
  • Exists as either archival repositories, or fully-fledged peer-reviewed journals
  • Focuses on royalty-free literature--that is, work where the author does not receive monetary compensation (though the other rewards of scholarship do accrue!)

Some context:

Major journal titles

Research

Recent research about OA.

OA directories

Why open access?

Benefits to researchers:

  • Easier to gain access to scholarship, especially if you have no institutional affiliation
  • Makes your own work more discoverable (my OA article has been downloaded hundreds of times and has a dozen citations)
  • You control the distribution and re-use rights of your work instead of giving those rights up to a publisher
  • Faster access to the latest research

Benefits to teachers:

  • OA literature typically has no restrictions on use in the classroom or in online course-management systems
  • Students with rudimentary research skills find OA articles more easily
  • Expanded availability of research materials to poorly funded institutions

Benefits to libraries:

  • Aids mandate of providing access to research and information sources as widely as possible
  • Lack of complex licensing or authentication requirements frees up time for teaching, research
  • Helps alleviate serials crisis
  • Subsidy-model OA journals are typically less expensive
  • Library funding can go directly to supporting research at the home institution

Challenges:

  • Many OA publications work on the author-pays model, which can be a hardship
  • Penetration and impact factor still relatively low
  • Access barriers still exist: censorship, language, accessibility, technology
  • Publishers reluctant to adopt OA models

Types

There are two broad types of Open Access literature:

  • OA journals, or Gold OA: scholarly, peer-reviewed publications that provide access to research literature free of charge and free of most or all use restrictions. Publication costs may be paid by research authors, scholarly or professional society subsidy, institutional subsidy, or library subsidy.
  • OA repositories, or Green OA: disciplinary or institutional repositories hosting pre- or post-print copies of published articles. Some non-OA publishers include a Green OA option.

What you can do

If you're used to the traditional publishing process, you probably have a lot of questions about what publishing in OA venues means for you. Here are some ways to engage with Open Access:

  1. Read what others have written, such as AcademHack's Ending Knowledge Cartels or Timothy Gowers's rationale for no longer publishing with Elsevier.
  2. Investigate what OA journals are out there--more titles will be added to this resource guide to get you started. Are there OA journals of quality in your discipline that might be suitable for your work?
  3. Explore whether Creative Commons licensing is right for you.
  4. PLU does not have an institutional archive (yet!) but there may be a disciplinary archive available to you. Or, publish your preprints on your own personal site.
  5. Encourage colleagues to publish in OA venues as well. Teaching-oriented institutions like PLU have greater flexibility in terms of what we publish and where than many R1s. This works to our advantage with OA.
  6. Tell the library when you've published, and where! We'll highlight your work and that it's Open Access.


Here are some more ideas from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

What about copyright?

Copyright resources for the open-access scholar

  • Creative Commons: Creator licensing tools that enable you to determine how your work is disseminated, shared, and re-used.
  • SHERPA/RoMEO: Database of publisher policies on copyright and self-archiving.

What Librarians Are Saying

Public Domain Portals