Open Access infoPlaylist

October 19, 2015 at 11:03 am Leave a comment

Capture882Open Access Week, an international campaign promoting the adoption of open access (OA) scholarly communication methods, takes place this year October 19-25, 2015. As a strong supporter of the goals of the OA movement—namely, increasing the availability, usability, impact, and long-term preservation of high-quality scholarly research literature—Cook Library is using the occasion to share this Open Access infoPlaylist, created by Librarian Rick Davis, with the campus community.

What is open access?

The spread of digital communication technologies has enabled several different, sometimes complementary, “open” movements relevant to higher education and scholarly research, such as open education, open educational resources, open content, open science, open data, and open research. Open access, however, focuses primarily on the barrier-free digital publication or distribution of scholarly research, typically peer-reviewed research. Peter Suber, one of the foremost OA advocates, describes it as follows:

“Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.”

Why does this matter?

The current dominant scholarly communications model—in which authors rely on scholarly associations and/or commercial publishers to coordinate peer review, copyedit and format manuscripts, and then print and distribute the final version of their books and articles—has been with us for over 300 years. OA advocates claim that the model is not only antiquated but unsustainable, given the hyperinflationary price increases of academic journals and the long delays of peer review and traditional publication processes. Further, they argue that removing paywalls and copyright and licensing restrictions from scientific and scholarly research—research, by the way, that is often subsidized at least in part by taxpayer dollars—will allow others to expand and build upon it for the greater good of all.

OA literature is disseminated primarily via two vehicles, repositories (“green OA”) and journals (“gold OA”).

With “green OA” scholarly authors self-archive a copy of their final manuscripts in free, online institutional or subject-based repositories. OA repositories do not themselves conduct peer review, but they may contain articles which have gone through the peer review process.

With “gold OA” scholarly authors submit their articles for publication to designated OA journals. Gold OA journal production costs are covered by article publication fees, which might be paid by the authors themselves, by their home institutions, or by the funding agencies who financially support the authors’ research endeavors.

While the OA movement started in the sciences, specifically in computer science and in physics, it is by no means limited to scientific publishing. There are also thousands of content-rich green OA repositories and highly prestigious gold OA journals hosting scholarly research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.


OA Basics

Open Access Overview, by Peter Suber

Open Access, by Peter Suber. A free, downloadable e-book from the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series. Additional download formats are available via the Internet Archive. Suber’s home page for the book includes updates and supplements, as well as links to reviews and additional resources.

Open Access Explained! A video from Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics) – 8 min., 23 sec.



“The Open Access Movement Grows Up: Taking Stock of a Revolution,” by Heather Joseph.

“Open access versus subscription journals: a comparison of scientific impact,” by Bo-Christer Bjork and David Solomon.


Formal Definitions of OA and OA Standards

Open access was formally defined in three public statements, released in 2002-2003. Collectively, these are sometimes referred to as the “BBB definition” of OA:

Budapest Open Access Initiative (February 2002)

Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (April 2003)

Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (October 2003)

In September 2012 the Budapest OAI group also issued Ten Years on From the Budapest Open Access Initiative: Setting the Default to Open, a progress report with ten recommendations for further action.

The Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) is a standard which facilitates interoperability among the thousands of digital repositories hosting OA research literature online. The OAI-PMH protocol ensures that these green OA works are discoverable via Internet search engines, in effect creating one unified global online repository of OA scholarship.


Federal Mandates and Proposed Legislation on OA

In 2009 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) implemented the first OA mandate by a major public funding agency in the U.S. The NIH Public Access Policy requires all researchers funded by the NIH to deposit an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts to the PubMed Central repository upon acceptance for publication. The submitted manuscripts may initially be embargoed, or suppressed from public view, but they must be made publicly available on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after the official date of publication.

In May 2012 a “We the People” petition was created on the White House website, requesting that the Obama Administration build upon the “highly successful” NIH Public Access Policy by implementing open access policies for all federal agencies that fund scientific research.

In February 2013, Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, posted a response to the petition. Dr. Holdren announced that he had issued a memorandum directing federal agencies “with more than $100 million in research and development expenditures to develop plans to make the results of federally-funded research publicly available free of charge within 12 months after original publication.”

Dr. Holdren subsequently sent a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in March 2014, reporting on the progress that the federal agencies have made thus far in complying with his directive.

Several laws relating to OA have also been introduced in Congress over the last ten years, including laws supporting OA and laws seeking to repeal the NIH policy and block similar policies from going into effect at other federal agencies. See the following pages from the Harvard Open Access Project for more information:

Notes on the Federal Research Public Access Act

Notes on the Research Works Act

Notes on the Public Access to Public Science Act

Notes on the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act


OA Portals, Compendia, Feeds, etc.

These sites serve as portals to a wealth of additional information on OA:

Harvard Open Access Project. Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

Open Access Directory. A wiki hosted by the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College

The Open Access Tracking Project. A feed of tagged blog and social media posts relating to OA


OA Author Tools and Services

The success of the OA movement ultimately depends upon a fundamental change in behavior by academic authors. In return for publication in prestigious journals, these authors have traditionally given their articles away for free to commercial or toll-access journals—even to the extent of transferring their copyright in their work. As a service to their profession, academics have also donated their free labor as journal editors and peer reviewers.

Fortunately, the tide is turning and academic authors are learning to retain their copyright—or at the very least the right to deposit their final articles in OA digital repositories, and to reuse the articles for their own teaching and scholarly purposes. They are also pressing the journals that they edit and review for to make their policies consistent with OA principles.

SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, has led in the effort to assist academic authors with managing their publication rights. On the SPARC website, you’ll find a number of useful resources to support author rights, in particular the SPARC Author Addendum to academic publishing agreements.

Of course, there are reputable, not-so-reputable, and downright predatory players in OA scholarly publishing, just as there are in toll-access scholarly publishing. Beall’s List: Potential, Possible, or Probable Predatory Scholarly Open Access Publishers can help you determine the legitimacy of a particular OA journal or publisher.

Evaluating Open Access Journals, from Brian Cameron at the Ryerson University Library & Archives, also provides some useful criteria for academic authors.

HowOpenIsIt? Open Access Spectrum (OAS) Guide. Created by PLOS, SPARC, and OASPA, this short guide allows authors to better understand the various components of OA and helps them differentiate between “more open” and “less open” OA journals when they’re deciding where to publish their work.

SHERPA/RoMEO is a searchable database of publishers’ default policies regarding author self-archiving. If you’re not sure whether the publishing agreement you signed allows you to upload a copy of the final, peer-reviewed version of your paper on an openly accessible website or in an OA repository, search for the journal by title, ISSN, or publisher name in SHERPA/RoMEO. The RoMEO Statistics page also provides a breakdown of the number and types of publisher policies included in the database.

SHERPA/FACT allows researchers “to check if the journals in which they wish to publish their results comply with their funders’ requirements for open access to research.”

SHERPA/JULIET provides information on various funding agencies’ open access policies, for academic researchers who wish to check the requirements of any grants they have received.

A complement to SHERPA/JULIET, the Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARMAP) provides a searchable database “of open access mandates and policies adopted by universities, research institutions and research funders”


Finding OA Repositories, Journals, Books, etc.


Ranking Web of Repositories

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

Electronic Journals Library/ Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek (EZB)

Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB)

Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE)

Open Library of Humanities

arXiv (Open access to e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics)

Social Science Research Network

Research Papers in Economics (RePEc)


OA Advocacy Organizations

Public Library of Science (PLOS)

Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)

Enabling Open Scholarship

Alliance for Taxpayer Access


OA Advocacy on YouTube

Benefits of Open Access. BioMed Central – 3 min., 58 sec.

Open Access: Democratising Knowledge. JISC – 7 min., 15 sec.

How Open Access Empowered a 16-Year Old to Make Cancer Breakthrough. The Right to Research Coalition – 3 min., 59 sec.

Elizabeth Marincola: Advance Science with Open Access Publishing. TEDMED – 13 min., 56 sec.

Research Without Borders: Radical Open Access in the Humanities. Center for Digital Research and Scholarship – 14 min., 9 sec.


OA Controversies

“Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?” by John Bohannon

OASPA’s response to the recent article in Science entitled “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?”

OASPA’s second statement following the article in Science entitled “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?”


And last but not least…our very own green OA institutional repository!

MD-SOAR, the Maryland Shared Open Access Repository, launched earlier this year. This multi-institutional repository was established to host and preserve OA copies of scholarly works created at eleven different colleges and universities in Maryland, including Towson University. Watch the Cook Library website for further information about participating in the TU community site in MD-SOAR this spring!

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Webinar at Cook: Faculty Perspectives on Publishing Open Access “Latino Americans” Documentary Segment II [Empire of Dreams (1880-1942)] Viewing and Discussion

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