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General Open Access Information on Library Web Site

Open Access information pages typically contain a general description of Open Access. Broadly, this section will define Open Access and discuss the two methods of implementation: Open Access journals (the ‘gold’ route) and Open Access repositories (the ‘green’ route). Other common elements of Open Access information pages are outlined below. it is helpful to provide tailored information for different constituencies – authors and research managers and administrators.

For authors

1. Why make your work Open Access?

This section will present compelling arguments for why Open Access is important, for example:

  • Compliance with funding agency Open Access policies: Describe and link to any funding agency policies relevant to the researchers at the institution, and provide practical information about how they can comply with these policies.
  • Accessibility: No institution can provide access to all the journal content required by their researchers. Provide a description of the journals pricing crisis and explain what the effects have been on subscriptions at your university. The Sticker Shock web sites developed by the Engineering Library at Cornell University are a great example of an effective way to convey this information.

2. Your rights as an author

The issue of authors rights is a compelling one for many researchers. Explain that standard publishing agreements restrict authors from widely distributing their work. Also, link to appropriate author addenda and explain as simply as possible what rights these addenda allow authors to retain.

3. Responses to major concerns

When they are introduced to the concept of Open Access, authors generally voice a number of common concerns that can be countered on the website:

  • Open Access does not threaten peer review. Open Access journals apply the same rigorous peer-review processes as traditional subscription-based content. There are two ways of achieving Open Access: researchers can publish their paper in a true Open Access journal or they can publish in a traditional subscription-based journal and then make their paper freely available through an Open Access repository. Since both methods still require that papers are peer reviewed, publishing industry claims that making research Open Access necessitates foregoing the peer review process is wrong and misleading.
  • Open Access journals can also be high impact journals. Like traditional subscription-based journals, the impact factor of Open Access journals varies considerably. Highlight relevant journals/publishers for the community and link to the ISI studies here and here, that show OA journals in the top cohort of impact factors. Explain that many high impact subscription-based journals allow authors to deposit their articles into an Open Access repository.
  • Open Access does not infringe copyright law. Most journals have policies that allow authors to make their articles Open Access by placing them in an Open Access repository. For Open Access journals, publishers usually do not ask researchers to transfer copyright to the publisher, so the copyright remains with the author. Link to the SHERPA-ROMEO statistics site and also show an example of a publisher’s self-archiving policy.
  • Depositing in a Open Access repository is not difficult or time consuming. The process is very simple, consisting of a series of steps for filling in a form that the repository software provides. Details required include the article metadata (authors’ names, affiliations, title of the article and so on) and some other information about the type of article it is and whether it has been peer reviewed. Then there is an uploading step where the article file is sent to the repository. Researchers who were surveyed about this said that they found the process generally easy. We also know from an examination of log files at one large repository that it takes just a few minutes to do.

The website may also want to include responses to other concerns that are regularly expressed by researchers at the institution. More examples are detailed here.

4. How can you make your papers Open Access?

A brief description of the two roads to providing Open Access can help provide context here.

  • Deposit in an Open Access repository: Explain that the majority of journals allow authors to do this and link to the SHERPA-ROMEO site. Link to any appropriate repositories for the community; both disciplinary and institutional. Provide pointers to resources that will assist authors in depositing into disciplinary repositories, for example the NIH Public Access Communications and Training page. Develop a comprehensive website for the institutional repository (see below).
  • Publish in an Open Access Journal: About 15-20% of the current peer-reviewed journal literature is currently Open Access. Provide a link to the Open Access journals published by members of the university community and link to DOAJ site.

5. What else can you do?

  • Start an Open Access journal
  • Initiate a process to implement a policy at the institution

For more information on such activities, see:

Open Doors and Open Minds: What faculty authors can do to ensure open access to their work at their institutions [PDF] — a how-to guide for faculty members who want to implement Open Access at the institutional level.

For university administrators and research managers:
1. Benefits of Open Access

Open Access, particularly through the implementation of institutional repositories, is attractive for university administrators because repositories allow them to assess and monitor their research programmes, and also make more visible the research being undertaken at the university. The major benefits of Open Access for universities are:

  • Open access will improve the visibilty and prestige of your institution. More
  • Open access will enable research institutions to better account for their research output. More
2. Responses to major concerns
  • Costs of implementing an OA repository.
  • Similar concerns to those expressed by researchers (see above)
3. Institutional policies for Open Access

Open Access does not just happen. institutions wishing to enjoy the benefits of Open Access must put in place a suitable policy that ensures that the outputs of the institution’s research are brought into the public arena.

4. Helping authors comply with funding agency policies

As increasing numbers of funders are introducing Open Access policies and institutions can assist authors in complying by providing an institutional repository. Some funders, such as the NIH, also expect applicants for grants to provide persistent links to electronic versions of previous articles they have published and that they are citing in support of their grant application. The repository supplies a venue for these papers.

Useful resources

The University’s Role in the Dissemination of Research and Scholarship – A Call to Action. http://www.arl.org/bm~doc/disseminating-research-feb09.pdf

Complying with the NIH Public Access Policy — Copyright Considerations and Options — a guide published by the Association of Research Libraries in the US to assist administrators responsible for ensuring compliance with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) public access policy

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