Browsing the archives for the open access tag

A Primer on Open Access Publishing: The Grass is always Greener (When Your Publications are Freer) by Jason Colditz
Posted by atarrant

This post is the third in our series by Jason Colditz that explores the new and complicated world of Open Access Publishing. Post One provides a general primer on Open Access for the un-initiated and Post Two explores copyright issues and the “Gold Rule”.

This post discusses alternate routes to making your research publications available to the public (“OA Green” model). This model allows you to publish in a variety of journals (even journals that aren’t Open Access) and then to publicly archive the manuscript so that others are able to read and cite your work. This builds on my previous post that describes copyright transfer agreements and OA Gold, and assumes that you have some familiarity with Open Access in general.

A Fairly Common Scenario:

You want to make your results freely available for others to read, cite, and build upon. Unfortunately, you can’t afford to spend a couple thousand dollars to unlock the published version to the public, or maybe you’ve made up your mind to submit your manuscript to one of those ‘really prestigious’ journals that don’t offer such options. After two grueling rounds of revisions and some tweaks from the copy editor, you have an article in press. Congrats – your department chair (or tenure review committee, if you’re so lucky) will surely appreciate your accomplishment! Unfortunately, many of the researchers/practitioners in your field don’t have a subscription to the journal that you’ve published in and they probably won’t wager US$30 to purchase the full-text, even for an article as potentially groundbreaking as yours (note: write a good abstract so that others are interested to read the full-text).  You want others to cite your article, but the journal doesn’t allow you to post the published version on your website for the world to see. You need a work-around, preferably one that doesn’t cause the publisher to take you to court for violating your copyright agreement. Some journals are more permissive than others when you want to share your work with the world, and you might still have a trick or two up your sleeve: time to review your copyright transfer agreement!

Your copyright transfer agreement specifies what versions of your article you may share, with whom you may share them, and when. If you haven’t yet signed a copyright transfer agreement (better yet – if you haven’t yet decided on a journal), you can look into the permissiveness of various journals/publishers at SHERPA/RoMEO. “Self-archiving” your publication means that you’re uploading an electronic version of it to a publicly available Internet archive. Journals/publishers may allow you to post your final print version to an archive for various reasons.  Best case scenario: you are mandated to publicly archive your works if your research was funded through the National Institutes of Health (in the US) or Wellcome Trust (in the UK), and publishers are required to honor these mandates. Some universities also mandate that your work is added to publicly available university archives (e.g., Harvard in the US). A growing number of universities have such institutional mandates, and you may be able to find your institution in the Registry of Open Access Repositories Mandatory Archiving Policies (ROARMAP). In this case, you should consult with your university librarians to determine how they can help you to archive your publication. If you don‘t have a government or institutional mandate for public access to your article, you may still be able to share your research on an institutional, topical, or other Internet archive.

Many institutions have non-mandated archives listed on the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) (search for your institution from the search bar in the top right corner), which provide an opportunity to archive your work. At this point, every institution has different methods of collecting and distributing publications, and so you will need to conform to the regulations of your institution as well as those of the journal that you publish in.  ROAR also lists topical repositories that you can search for by keyword (e.g., “education”), but be advised that topical archives are sparse for many fields.

At this stage of the game, you may want to post a pre-print in an institutional archive or on your personal website.  A “pre-print” is a version of your article that isn’t the final published version.  Many journals will allow you to archive the semi-final version of your article before editorial changes (i.e., the version that was accepted, but not the version that was published). More stringent journals will only allow you to archive the version that you submitted before the first round of peer-review. Based on the version that you are allowed to publicly archive (if you are comfortable sharing that version), it will still be helpful for other scholars to access and cite it.  If you archive a pre-print, be sure to list the full citation for the publication up-front, so that others are able to cite the published version of your work.

“OA Green” gives you the opportunity to share your scholarly publications with anyone (and everyone) who is interested in reading them, not just the scholars at institutions that subscribe to the journal. This is important because journal holdings are shrinking at university libraries and your publications are important to a broader audience than the handful of research universities that can afford it.

Stay open!

Jason

Resources:

Follow Jason on Twitter: @colditzjb

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A Primer on Open Access Publishing: Copyrights and the “Gold Rule”. Part Two by Jason Colditz
Posted by atarrant

This post is the second of a blog series focusing on Open Access publishing, written by Jason Colditz. For an introduction to Open Access publishing and what it is, you can read Part One of the series here. 

This post will briefly discuss author copyright agreements and provide resources to help you to make your published research publicly available (“Open Access Gold” model). This is the most straightforward way to bring your research to the public who benefit from it – sharing your final publication with the largest possible audience. This model allows for public access and allows researchers/authors/media to freely cite and report on the final version of your work. If you want to build your public presence in your field and broader scientific/professional networks, the public availability of your research should not be taken for granted.

Every time you create a manuscript for publication, you have to shop around for the “best” journal in which to publish your work. Maybe you’ve done this before or maybe you’re planning to publish for the first time. Either way, it is exciting – another notch on your CV and an opportunity to share your work with your peers in the research community and beyond. It can also be anxiety provoking as you consider the venues that are the best fit for the content of your manuscript, and those that demonstrate enough impact for your work to be appreciated. When you think about impact, it is important to consider the “prestige” of the journal as well as the availability of the final publication. The publisher may ask you to sign-away certain rights of your intellectual property that will limit the availability/usability of your work, and you need to consider what you are giving up in order to get your paper to press (i.e., is it still legally “your” paper after it is published? – often times not).

Copyright Transfer Agreements

Publishers require you to sign a legal agreement that determines how your article can be used and shared. Some publishers (e.g., Elsevier) have complex restrictions on how your article is licensed and shared, while others (e.g., Public Library of Science) pride themselves on broad accessibility of research articles, with authors retaining copyright. To understand the complexities of copyright transfer agreements, you don’t need to be a lawyer – the basic principle is that you (authors) may do whatever you wish with a manuscript until you agree to trade certain freedoms for the privilege of publication. Simply put, some publishers require you to give-up more freedom than others…

“Not all publication agreements lead to problems, but many do. Some publishers, including scholarly journal publishers, ask for only a limited right of publication and generously leave other rights with you. Other publishers, however, insist on an assignment of the copyright and leave you with little or nothing. If that is your agreement, you may have lost all rights to use even your own work.”

Columbia University

“When you assign copyright to publishers, you lose control over your scholarly output. Assignment of copyright ownership may limit your ability to incorporate elements into future articles and books or to use your own work in teaching at the University.”

Cornell University

If you want a broad reach for your research, there are several things to pay attention to when choosing a journal/publisher:

  • Who owns the copyright to your published work (you or the publisher)?
  • How soon (if ever) will the article be made freely available to the public?
  • Are you permitted to post the publication on personal- or institutional websites?
  • Can the publication be freely reproduced for educational purposes?

For some publishers, the answers to these questions are: “Not you – never – absolutely not – no.” If you should get your research well-read and cited, those aren’t the answers that you want to hear. Open Access (OA) Gold publishers, on the other hand, will tell you: “You own it – your publication is publicly available – share it freely!” If you want to know more about the copyright agreements for particular journals or publishers, the University of Nottingham hosts the “SHERPA/RoMEO” website to help you decode and compare copyright agreements for most popular publishers. When looking at OA publishers, you will want to keep in mind what I call the “Gold Rule” of OA publishing (buyer beware)…

The OA Gold Rule: You might pay for what you get, but you don’t always get what you pay for.

Several mainstream journals provide an option to publish the electronic version of your article, free to the public, at a price to the author(s). Some Elsevier journals, for example, charge a one-time US$3,000 (or more) fee to release the article publicly. While there is a definite advantage to opening up access to your research article published in a highly-ranked journal, is it worth the fee? Maybe not – Elsevier and similar publishers may still retain the copyright to authors’ works. This isn’t exactly OA Gold in a practical sense (if the publisher owns the copyright, they may still restrict how the article is used). If your research was funded through certain agencies (e.g., National Institutes of Health in the US, Wellcome Trust in the UK), it has a mandated public release date within 6 months or a year anyway. Is an earlier public release worth $3,000 from your research budget? If you’re not funded by one of the big players in research, can you afford to pay out of pocket or from institutional funds? (Wouldn’t it be nice?)

While there is movement towards reimbursing some of these fees at an institutional level (e.g., U.C. Berkeley), that is more the exception than the rule, and it contributes to further racketeering by some publishers who will retain the copyright to your article and charge your institution for unlocking your article (which the publisher may still own). This presents another set of ethical as well as financial difficulties.

On the other side of the spectrum of “predatory publishers” are those who don’t offer much in the way of prestige (or not even peer-review) but will still charge you for publication. They may tout prestige and OA but function more as publication mills. These are often called “vanity journals”, and they will publish just about anything if you are willing to pay the price. Watch out for these, or else you might pay out of pocket for a publication that you wouldn’t want to list on your CV (or that you wish your tenure review board hadn’t discovered).

Then there is the Public Library of Science (PLoS), an exemplar of OA Gold practices. Its interdisciplinary publication, PLoS ONE, boasts a respectable impact factor, peer review, and fully open publication terms. It charges less than half of the bottom-dollar Elsevier rate and will waive publication fees for authors who can not afford to pay for publication. This is one example of many journals (some with no fees at all) that adhere to best practices of the OA Gold model. If you want to shop around for reputable OA journals, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is the place to start.

If OA Gold sounds a bit convoluted to you, you’re not alone! The publishing process is heavily politicized by powerful special interest groups that are more concerned with profit margins than continuity of scientific rigor and dissemination of knowledge (in practice if not in political activism). The process of OA publishing oftentimes runs counter to the traditional publication profit model and requires some ingenuity to navigate. OA Gold can be co-opted by publishers who don’t have the best interests of the research community in mind, and so you need to be an informed consumer when deciding to pursue the “Gold standard” in publishing your works.

Gold OA versus Green OA

Open Access is color coded to distinguish the two ways that you can get your research directly to the public. If you equate gold to money, you’re on the right track (though that needn’t be the case for many free electronic journals). Whereas OA Gold puts the finished (published) product in the public domain, OA Green can give you a work-around to get your research out there in other ways. Think of OA Green as the grassroots alternative to OA Gold. In the next post, we will cover the OA Green model that allows you (depending on the copyright transfer agreement) to archive a version of your article in the public domain.

Stay tuned, and stay open!

Jason

Resources:

Author’s Note: Mike Taylor, who provides an online oracle of Open Access activism (and sauropod vertebra pictures for paleontologists), was kind enough to comment on my original post’s use of “public domain”, which is a specific term denoting public ownership of works (i.e., a Creative Commons license instead of a copyright).  This is an important distinction to make when considering publisher copyright agreements.  The post has been edited accordingly and I hope to address this topic more fully in a future post.

Find out more about the OA Green model in the next in the series….Part Three of A Primer on Open Access Publishing.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @colditzjb

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Part 1: A Primer on Open Access Publishing by Jason Colditz
Posted by atarrant

This post is the first in a series by Jason Colditz, who spends his days at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a full-time Research Coordinator (Department of Psychiatry), Teaching Assistant for the Dissertation Research Seminar (Department of Administrative and Policy Studies), and has consulted on several university-sponsored and individual research projects. In the Social and Comparative Analysis in Education graduate program, his comprehensive project focuses on policies and economics of Open Access publishing. In this set of blog posts, Jason extends a conversation started earlier on PhD2Published, introducing us to the world of Open Access publishing and exploring its implications for future academic publishing and careers.

Open Access (OA) publishing is a game-changer for researchers and academics who produce scholarly works.  While mathematics and physics have a rich history of making articles publicly available and medicine is moving in that direction thanks to funding mandates, OA is a relatively new development in social sciences and humanities fields. Over a series of posts, we will help you to understand the basics of OA, provide resources to help you make informed decisions about OA options, and consider the long term impact of OA publishing for emerging researchers and professionals in academia.

Background: Open Access as a Geopolitical Grassroots Movement

Recently, Open Access (OA) has received increased public attention on a global scale. The UK, Argentina, and others are moving towards federal mandates to make publicly funded research results available to the public, the US is under increased pressure to enact similar OA legislation, and advocacy groups are springing up around the globe. A driving force of this movement stems from universities and academic library associations that are unable to keep up with the hyperinflation of journal prices (i.e., “serials crisis”). The recent public mobilization arises from a growing awareness and discontent towards the unsustainability of journal publishers’ current business paradigms. In brief, for-profit journal publishers continually increase profit margins by charging the public to access the research that they have funded and by charging academic institutions to access the research results that they have produced. Researchers, librarians, and the public are uniting at a grassroots level, demanding a new model for sharing research results. Globally, researchers are boycotting publishing in Elsevier journals because of questionable business practices, and the public is petitioning the US government to mandate openness in publicly funded research results. As our global culture increasingly demands research findings to fuel innovation and social progress, and with technology making web-based electronic publications the norm, we are on the brink of shifting paradigms for sharing scientific knowledge…

Welcome to Open Access!

Simply put, OA is the free release of knowledge to the public who sponsor and benefit from it. This paradigm allows patients and providers to access medical research that informs treatment, allows educators to draw from relevant findings in teaching and learning theory, allows public policy makers and advocates to make scientifically grounded arguments, and allows scientists and the general public to stay abreast of current knowledge across all research disciplines. From an epistemological perspective, OA allows researchers to more readily access and build upon previous knowledge. From an academic career perspective, OA creates broader dissemination and citability of published articles. The only downside (if you can call it that) in moving towards a more open model of knowledge sharing is that publishers will need to adapt their profit models and academia will need to adapt to new technologies and develop new standards for evaluating the prestige of published works. This is similar to the process of adaptation that the record labels and musicians undertook when technology caught up to the recording industry. If we can learn a lesson from this recent history: don’t spend time and energy clinging to dated market conventions and do spend some time gaining an understanding of the emerging system. If you should adapt to emerging norms and remain competitive in open knowledge markets, the upcoming posts will help you to become confident in choosing appropriate venues for publishing your articles and will show you how to share your results beyond conventional publication channels.

Moving Along…

Now that you have some background, it is time to move into applications and provide you with some tools to make the publishing process easier. The next post will talk a little bit about author copyright agreements and provide resources to help you publish your research directly into the public domain (the “OA Gold” model). That will bridge us into discussing the “OA Green” model where authors publicly archive their published works. Finally, we will wrap-up with some practical considerations of OA, assessing article prestige (i.e., impact metrics), and how OA is contributing to new ways of measuring article impact and how that might affect your future academic career.

In the meantime, if you want to do your homework on OA, I recommend starting at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). If you do the Twitter thing, there are always interesting live updates on the #OpenAccess tag, or you can tweet @ColditzJB with questions.

Stay Open,

Jason

Follow Jason on Twitter: @colditzjb

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Part 6 of Online thesis: On the Outside of Academic Publishing by Kathryn Allan
Posted by atarrant

The final post in this series about posting a thesis online is by Kathryn Allan. Kathryn completed her PhD (English) at McMaster University in 2010. Her doctoral thesis, Bleeding Chrome: Technology and the Vulnerable Body in Feminist Post-Cyberpunk Science Fiction, is awesome and available online for free here. She operates an (academic) copy editing and dissertation coaching business, Academic Editing Canada, as she pursues independent scholarly research into (feminist/cyberpunk) science fiction. Dr. Allan is currently putting together a collection of essays that deal with the representation of disability in science fiction. She tweets under @BleedingChrome.

When I finished my PhD in English Literature in 2010, I also said good-bye to the ivory tower. Frustrated with the current funding and work environment of academia (in North America), I set out on my own – and I took my dissertation with me. While my committee members encouraged me to consider publishing my thesis the old-fashioned way, I felt like it wasn’t the right option for me. Instead, I decided to publish my dissertation in pdf format and make it freely available on my professional blog to anyone interested in reading it.

At first, I was slightly worried that someone might plagiarize my work, but after a minute of thought, I remembered that nothing stops students who want to plagiarize from doing so, regardless of the medium of the text. With confidence, I made my thesis available on my blog. It shows up in relevant Google searches and I have repeatedly shared the link over email and Twitter with people who share my research and reading interests.

I share my thesis online because: (1) I believe that publicly funded work (like my Canadian graduate education) should be publicly accessible; and, (2) as an independent scholar who studies feminist and cyberpunk science fiction, I want to easily share my work with the science fiction fan community.

Accessibility

When I state that I believe academic work should be accessible, I mean it in all aspects of the word. I put in a good deal of effort into writing my thesis in language that can be followed by non-academic readers, so putting my thesis online is a natural extension of my dedication to open research and communication.

My PhD thesis is available on ProQuest through the university where I studied, but access to that database is still limited to people with university library access or who are willing and able to pay. Since I don’t believe that anyone should have to pay to read my thesis, simply having it available on academic marketed sites like ProQuest is not a good enough solution to accessibility.

Independent Scholarship

My thesis was a labour of love and passion for the subject matter. I want to share the knowledge I gained with as many interested individuals as I can. Admittedly, I also enjoy operating outside of the formal academic system. Science fiction, particularly the feminist science fiction of my interest, has generally been a marginalized field of study, so it felt right to pursue a more marginal and independent approach to publishing my dissertation.

One of my goals as an independent scholar is to connect with fans in the vibrant and diverse science fiction community. If my thesis was only available through one university and a pay-to-read internet platform, then most fans are not going to read it (or even know that it exists). While I could have arguably sought out a publisher to reach this fan audience, I am also aware that “free” and “online” appeal to far more readers. And it has.

It’s All Good

It has almost been a year since I made my thesis available online and the response I have received has been overwhelmingly positive. Many people – some are academics, some are science fiction fans – have emailed or tweeted me about my thesis. Most of the comments I get are “thanks for sharing” or specific nerdy questions about something I’ve written. To date, I can’t think of one drawback from having my thesis online. Not a single one. I don’t intend on applying for an academic position, nor am I pursuing independent scholarship for financial gain. For me, there is simply is no downside to having my thesis online.

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Journal of Peace Conflict and Development: Making Our Own Mark
Posted by Sarah-Louise Quinnell

In today’s post the Editorial Board behind the Journal of Peace and Conflict Development talk about how their journal is marking its mark in the changing world of academic publishing. This post was written by Benita Sumita and Roberta Hollanda Maschietto, doctoral researchers in Peace Studies, University of Bradford with input from the editorial board members of the Peace Conflict and Development journal.

“Can we improve our credibility without being ranked?” This potent question raised by one of the editorial board members defines the struggles that lie ahead for the Journal of Peace Conflict and Development (PC&D) nearly a decade since its founding. Apart from the continuing – now ever-more severe – funding constraints, the Journal is faced with having to prove its credibility through more mainstream avenues. It seems the PC&D is not visible within the UK’s mainstream cottage-industry of academic publishing and assessments, which has presumably led to a loss of the meagre financial backing the Journal received the last nine years. All these concerns need to be viewed within the contexts of the current climate of financial pressure in UK’s Higher Education and the increasing tendency to measure the quality, impact and ranking of journals by the number of times their articles are cited. It is perhaps time to question and rethink the systemically flawed nature of academic impact assessment rather than the credibility of a Journal such as PC&D that has made its own mark by reaching a wide and diverse national and international readership and attracting submissions from established scholars and practitioners. Continue Reading »

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