Open Access: It’s All About the Money?

I am planning to revisit some of the topics covered in the open courseware and open educational resources topics for #ioe12, but I’m reluctant to get too behind so I’ll save that for a later date.

The next ‘open’ on the list is open access.

Open Access 101, from SPARC

The Open Access 101 video by SPARC gives a quick overview of open access and the contentious financial issues it raises.

The best known definition of open access (OA) is from the Budapest Open Access Initiative:

By open access, we mean its immediate, free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software or use them for any other lawful purpose.

As is always the case definitions vary and I’d say it is the use area that is the contentious one here. Some people view open access as being purely about access, while others see there as being more to it (open licences etc.) The OA introductory article written by Peter Suber focuses on open access to peer-reviewed research articles and their preprints.

Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. OA removes price barriers (subscriptions, licensing fees, pay-per-view fees) and permission barriers (most copyright and licensing restrictions).

There are different degrees to this but the key is the removal of legal, financial and technical barriers. There also seems to be emphasis on use of open licences to support this, and it should not involve copyright infringement.

The legal basis of OA is the consent of the copyright holder (for newer literature) or the expiration of copyright (for older literature). The campaign for OA focuses on literature that authors give to the world without expectation of payment.

It is pointed out that “OA is a kind of access, not a kind of business model, license, or content. ” OA delivery mechanisms are more likely to allow the author to retain copyright – many commercial journals will often ask authors to transfer copyright to a publisher.

Many OA initiatives focus on publicly-funded research. OA literature is not free to produce or publish. OA is compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance.

The Higher Education institution open access movement is the one I’m most familiar with, especially work of advocates like Stevan Harnad. A long while ago I project managed the ePrintsUK project which developed a series of national, discipline-focused services for access to e-print papers available from national compliant Open Archive repositories. I worked with the SHERPA project which now seems to be a partnership of research-led institutions, all with practical experience of building and populating eprint repositories.

Suber explains that there are two primary vehicles for delivering OA to research articles, OA journals (“gold OA”) and OA repositories (“green OA”). He goes on to explain the different business models behind these. Some use “author pays” approach (the fees are often paid by author-sponsors (employers or funders) or waived) while others have a subsidy from a university or professional society. OA journals can get by on lower subsidies or fees if they have income from other publications, advertising, priced add-ons, or auxiliary services. The OA movement has attempted to be seen as ‘constructive, rather than destructive’ in their criticism of the traditional publishing models. However, over the years, there has been significant resistance from traditional scholarly journal publishers.

The other resources listed in the module include the SPARC perspective. SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system. They provide a list of links and resources for those interested in pursuing open access publication or advocating for open access to others in the academic community. The Global Open Access Portal (GOAP) which gives a current snapshot of the status of Open Access (OA) to scientific information around the world. The UK entry gives details of relevant organisations and research council policies on OA. There are also details of open access week (22- 28 October 2012) and links to the Directory of Open Access Journals.

To finish off there is a nice statistical summary of 2011 by Heather Morrison, Simon Fraser University School of Communication, who calls it ‘the year of open’. It does certainly seem that way: “There are over 7,000 peer-reviewed fully open access journals as listed in the DOAJ, still growing by 4 titles per day“. Noted journals include PLoS ONE, PubMedCentral, arXiv, RePEC, and E-LIS. It seems that there are “over 2,000 repositories, linking to more than 30 million items, growing at the rate of 21 thousand items per day“. For many the open access model is the only way forward and this requires some people to do a lot of rethinking.


2 thoughts on “Open Access: It’s All About the Money?

  1. Open Access is the practice of providing unrestricted access via the Internet to peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles.

    Open Access is also increasingly being provided to theses, scholarly monographs and book chapters.

    Open Access comes in two degrees: Gratis Open Access is no-cost online access, while Libre Open Access is Gratis Open Access

    plus some additional usage rights.

    Open content is similar to Open Acces, but usually includes the right to modify the work, where as in scholarly publishing it is

    usual to keep an article’s content intact and to associate it with a fixed author or fixed group of authors. Creative Commons

    licenses can be used to specify usage rights. The Open Access idea can also be extended to the learning objects and resources

    provided in e-learning.

    OMICS Group Inc. is one of the Open aceess publisher which provides journals in the form of Open Access.

  2. Open access journals are scholarly journals that are available online to the reader “without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. Some are subsidized, and some require payment on behalf of the author. Subsidized journals are financed by an academic institution, learned society or a government information center; those requiring payment are typically financed by money made available to researchers for the purpose from a public or private funding agency, as part of a research grant. There have also been several modifications of open access journals that have considerably different natures: hybrid open access journals and delayed open access journals.
    Open access journals (sometimes called the “gold road to open access”) are one of the two general methods for providing open access. The other one (sometimes called the “green road”) is self-archiving in a repository. The publisher of an open access journal is known as an “open access publisher”, and the process, “open access publishing”.

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