Libraries are becoming increasingly active in promoting positive change in the scholarly communication system. This is represented by a growing number of library outreach programmes on campus as well as advocacy efforts in the public policy arena. A good first step for librarians in promoting Open Access is to initiate discussions with the various stakeholders about the benefits. It should be noted, however, that the incentives for supporting Open Access differ for various communities, and efforts to promote Open Access are much more effective if the messages are tailored appropriately. Some of the major benefits for different communities are provided below.
Major Benefits of Open Access
For researchers: Researcher adoption of Open Access is key if it is to become widespread. When promoting Open Access within the research community, it is important to keep in mind that research have multiple roles in the scholarly communication system. They are authors and readers, and they are also often involved in publishing activities as editors and/or reviewers of scholarly journals. Moreover, there are significant differences in disciplinary attitudes towards Open Access that need to be recognised. The key messages about Open Access for researchers are:
- Open Access will improve the visibility and impact of your research.
- Open Access will enable you to gain immediate and free access to all the literature you need for your research.
- Open Access will enable you to have more control over how your publications are used. More
For university administrators: 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 the research being undertaken at the university more visible. The key messages about Open Access for universities are:
- Open Access will improve the visibility and prestige of your institution. More
- Open Access will enable research institutions to better account for their research output. More
For policy makers and funding agencies: Research funders are interested in Open Access because it ensures that the results of their spending have had the widest possible dissemination. If they are a publicly funded research agency, then the argument for public access is also very powerful. The key messages about Open Access for policy makers are:
- Members of the public are entitled to access to the peer-reviewed scientific articles based on research that has been funded by governments.
- Open Access will increase the government’s return on investment in research by enabling more widespread dissemination and uptake of knowledge.
- Open Access will enable research funders who need to be able to access and keep track of outputs from their funding, and measure and assess how effectively their money has been spent.
There are many ways in which libraries can promote Open Access:
- By implementing an Open Access repository
- By supporting Open Access journals
- By developing advocacy programmes on campus
- Through the library website
- Through membership in other library organisations
EIFL’s 2011 case studies in OA advocacy; 13 examples of good practice from libraries in 12 countries. Advocacy initiatives covered national campaigns, institutional advocacy and OA journal publishing studies: http://www.eifl.net/eifl-oa-case-studies
Malefant, K (2009) Leading Change in the System of Scholarly Communication: A Case Study of Engaging Liaison Librarians for Outreach to Faculty (preprint of an article to be published in College & Research Libraries)