Introducing Open Access at Bucknell

This blog is dedicated to the discussion of issues surrounding scholarly publishing and open access at Bucknell.   My hope is that it will not only be an informational resource for Bucknell’s faculty and students, but also a space where we can engage in a conversation about the open access movement and the role of open access at Bucknell.  In the coming weeks, I will be posting more detailed discussions about current issues surrounding open access in higher education, so in this first post I’ll limit myself to answering just a few introductory questions:

What is open access?

The principle of open access scholarship is simple: to make scholarly publications and materials freely available on the internet for unrestricted use.  The goal of open access is to remove pricing barriers (e.g. subscription costs) and permission barriers (e.g. restrictive licensing policies) in order to disseminate scholarship as widely as possible.

Why is open access important?

Open access enables your work to reach a wider audience.  Open access allows anyone to access your work regardless of their own, or their institution’s, ability to pay subscription fees.   This is especially important for students and scholars working in less affluent countries and universities.  Advocates of open access assert that academic research is a public good, and as such the public should have access to it.  Furthermore, as a matter of social justice, open access is simply the right thing to do.

Open access also benefits authors.  Increased access leads to increased exposure for your work, more citations, and greater impact.

How does open access work?

For open access to work, a scholar must make a copy of his or her work available on the internet to be crawled and indexed by search engines.  One way to do this is to publish in a fully open access journal.   Another way is to place your work in an institutional repository, like Bucknell’s Scholar Vault, which will preserve, maintain, and make available a digital copy of your work.  You can also deposit your work in a disciplinary repository (such as arXiv (physics) or the social science research network (SSRN)).  This process is called self-archiving.

Would I have to publish in open access specific journals?

No.  Many journals and publishers already explicitly allow self-archiving in their author’s agreements.  In fact, approximately 50% of the journal articles published by Bucknell faculty are already eligible for self-archiving[1].  You can obtain permission to self-archive from other journals and publishers by adding an addendum to your author’s agreement, such as the example available from the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).  You can also check the policies of specific journals and publishers at SHERPA’s RoMEO database.

Does open access change peer review?

No.  Open access does not change the peer review process, and all serious advocates for open access emphasize the importance and value of peer review.

Does open access affect copyright?

Open access is fully compatible with current copyright laws. Open access does not change the principles of copyright, only how the rights are allocated. Because authors retain more rights, open access gives more power to authors.

What are other institutions doing?

Many universities nationwide are exploring open access policies. Faculty governing bodies at several institutions, including Duke, Harvard, University of Kansas, and Oberlin, have recently taken the additional step of passing a resolution requiring their faculty members to make all their future journal articles open access.

I’m interested in open access, where can I get more information?

There are many excellent resources available on open access,  including Peter Suber’s “Open Access Overview” and “Open Access News,” the Open Access Directory,  Steven Harnad’s “Open Access Archivangelism” blog, the  SPARC website, and the Right to research Coalition, a student advocacy group.

Please also feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. 

[1] The figure is calculated from the publication list compiled by the Bertrand Library in 2009 and 2010.

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