What does the term Open Access mean?
“Open Access” is a term commonly used for a movement that promotes free availability and unrestricted use of research and scholarship. Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge to the reader, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions, so there are no price barriers and no permission barriers.
The definition of the concept emerged from three conferences:
- Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities
- Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing
- Budapest Open Access Initiative
Also see: An Overview of Open Access
Why do researchers support open access?
- Many OA advocates support this unrestricted access because they believe the results of tax-payer funded research should be shared; since citizens have paid for this research, they should be able to access it at no additional charge.
- Many OA advocates also support unrestricted access because knowledge itself, or information, is a public good. A public good is something beneficial to everyone who seeks it, without added use diminishing its value.Common examples of public goods include: law enforcement, lighthouses, clean air and other environmental goods, and information goods, such as software development, authorship, and invent.
- Most academic authors are interested in creating as wide a readership as possible; open access extends readership.
- Most academic authors are interested in their research having as big an impact as possible; open access improves citation rates.
How do the economics of open access work?
Open access to research and scholarship is not free – there are costs involved in making research available. The economic models to support unrestricted access to research are still being developed; the common thread among the models is that open access research is available at no charge to all readers.
One model that exists is for there to be a payment when the author submits an article. Usually this charge to publish an open access article is covered by research grant funds. In 2004, one study by Elsevier found that this “author side” payment model encompassed just 17% of open access journals. In an updated study in 2007, Bill Hooker did a survey of all known open access journals and found that only 18% charged fees.
Other economic models are also being experimented with. For example, some new open access publishers, such as the the not-for-profit PLoS (Public Library of Science) or the for-profit BioMed Central, require author payments, but these can be waived for by institutions who´ve purchased a membership.
Other titles are subsidized, often by scholarly societies, institutions, or foundations. The 2004 Elsevier study found that government or university subsidies accounted for 55% of the total open access titles, the largest portion. The remaining open access titles (28%) that were not supported by “author side” payments, or by government or universities, were found to be subsidized by paid subscriptions to their print equivalents.
- Some journals are entirely open access; every article is available without restriction. Other journals are “hybrid” in that they are
- traditional subscription-based journals, but offer authors the choice to pay a fee to make their individual article freely accessible to anyone worldwide. The other articles in the journal remain accessible only through subscription.
- Some publishers offer all their titles under one kind of open access policy, and others have different policies for different titles.
Green & gold
- The chief difference between them is that OA journals conduct peer review and OA repositories do not. This difference explains many of the other differences between them, especially the costs of launching and operating them.
- There are other OA vehicles on which I won’t focus here, such as personal web sites, ebooks, discussion forums, email lists, blogs, wikis, videos, audio files, RSS feeds, and P2P file-sharing networks. There will undoubtedly be many more in the future.
- Most activists refer to OA delivered by journals as gold OA (regardless of the journal’s business model), and to OA delivered by repositories as green OA.
- The green/gold distinction is about venues or delivery vehicles, not user rights or degrees of openness. It is not equivalent to the gratis/libre distinction.
Research Funders and Open Access Policy?
Several research funding organizations also have open access policies. To review these policies, see:
The ROARMAP list of the strongest funder and university policies
Article Publishing Charges (APCs)
Publish Open Access in Bibsam Agreements
Parallellpublicering / Self Archiving
Full text versions of your documents should, in most cases, be attached to the record you submit to the institutitonal repository. This is called self archiving or in Swedish “parallell publicering”.
To make an article freely accessible you must be aware of the open access policy of the publisher. Information about most publishing companies’ policies can be found in the service Sherpa/Romeo, run by the University of Nottingham. Most publishers allow publishing of so-called postprints, the last edited author version of the article.
Information about conference proceedings is harder to come by, but big publishers like IEEE can be found in Sherpa/Romeo. The common rule is that the author version accompanied by a cover page that acknowledges the original article should be uploaded.
The library will monitor full text documents attached by BTH authors for copyright information, and attach cover pages when this is required; informing authors when adjustments have to be made in order to self-archive in a legal way.
OA journals and hybrid journals
You can publish in an open access journal. The business model used is based on that either the author or an institution pays a fee when the document is accepted for publication. A directory of journals using the Open Access model is available via DOAJ.
Also traditional publishers offers open access solutions for articles. These journals are often called “hybrid journals”. Lists of publishers/journals that offers this solution can be found at:
BTH:s OA policy
In June 2007, the Vice-Chancellor decided that every scientific article (journal-, conference- or other peer-reviewed documents) published by staff employed at Blekinge Institute of Technology must be submitted as an electronic copy with bibliographic data, to the institutional repository of BTH when copyright rules or confidentiality provisions makes that possible. Researchers at Blekinge Institute of Technology should aim to publish research articles in Open Access Journals when appropriate titles are available. When this option is unavailable, publishers that do allow self archiving of post-prints documents should be chosen.
In recent years several illegal Open Access (OA) alternatives, so called. black OA have emerged. This is primarily an indication of dissatisfaction with the academic publishing system. Examples of these illegal text sharing resources are Library Genesis, Reddit Scholar, AvaxHome, Sci-Hub, and # icanhazPDF.
Most popular of these sites is Sci-Hub, boasting some 62 million academic papers. 80% of the downloaded papers comes from the 9 major science publishers in the world. In fact, it’s not only third world researchers sitting outside the paywalls that uses black OA. USA researchers are the fifth largest downloader after Russia and 25 percent of all Sch-Hub requests come from the 34 Member States in the OECD. In Germany, during the ongoing licensing dispute with Elsevier, a large number of researchers have used illegal text sharing sites to replace the blocked access to Elsevier’s journal offering at German universities. An article in Science (2016, Vol. 352, No. 6285) reports an interview survey, where approximately 11,000 respondents answered questions about their attitude to Sci-Hub. The answers were predominantly positive.
OA-publishers and Print on Demand in a grey zone
There are Open Access publishers that operate in a grey zone and you should therefore think twice before you submit an article to such a publisher. No matter what, always consider the following before you submit an article to any publisher you are not familiar with:
- Are the published articles by well known authors and/or well known institutions in the field?
- Who is in the “editorial board”?
- Is the contact details to the publisher listed in a proper way?
- Are the conditions “License to publish” fair? A useful resource on these matters is Jeffrey Beall´s “List of Predatory Open-Access Publishers” despite being archived and no longer updated.
- Think. Check. Submit. is a campaign to help researchers identify trusted journals for their research. It is a simple checklist researchers can use to assess the credentials of a journal or publisher.
- Evaluate journals. An excellent guide from Linköping University Library.
Examples of grey zone publishers
The publishers below have used non-standard marketing and/or editing methods which could include badly targeted spamming to contact authors, shaky peer-review, low-standard contact information on web pages etc. If you are contacted by any of them, try to be extra observant.
Bentham Science Publishers
Scientific Journals International
Academic Journals use spamming to contact authors. Low standard of contact information on their web pages; authors are requested to sign away their copyright and few articles published in each journal.
Research India Publications
Publishes over 180 journals and using editors name without agreement, no information on the journal web-pages about the publisher. Be very cautious!
OMICS Publishing Group
Use spamming to contact authors. Low standard in several of their journals.
A company that sells research promotion services is using email addresses left on PLOS Medicine’s comments section to spam researchers.
Dove Medical Press
Public Service Review
Concerning offers to publish Print on Demand
Now and then students and staff at BTH receive personal letters from LAP Lambert Academic Publishing AG & Co. KG (earlier VDM Verlag) in Germany, or other such companies, making offers to publish student theses, dissertations etc. as printed books. This has caused quite a few people to turn to the library for advice. Apart from the information you can find on the net by searching for “lap lambert” and find out what people write on their blogs or in different social forums, there are a few things we would like you to consider if you receive such an offer.
It is important to state that the author always owns the copyright to the text. Therefore it is up to the author to decide to publish or not, however, we do recommend that you contact your supervisor before you make a decision, just to make sure that your decision does not contradict any policy of the department. It is also vital to remember that disposition of the copyright can be limited if the rights have already been transferred to a scientific journal etc.
Lap Lambert is a so called vanity publisher. If you agree to their contract, you sign over the rights of your work. They charge a very high price for the copies, and give you a relatively small return. Their business model builds on this, that very few people will buy the copies, and those that are bought compensate for those who do not sell. With the recent print on demand process, vanity publishing has flourished again, especially as it is visible on Amazon and similar sites. To publish in this way for research is academic suicide. It means no one else will take you on. To do it as a student though is less serious, unless you want to use your work later yourself. On the other hand you stand to gain little except to show friends that you have been “published”.
- To carefully study the “Information for authors” that LAP attached to their offer. Just to make sure that this is something that you can agree on.
- If you decide to take the offer and LAP decides to publish, you will get a contract for signing. Make sure that the text in the contract corresponds with the information you received earlier on, so that you do not sign away more rights than necessary. Always make sure that you keep the right to publish your document on a university institutional repository.
- If you choose to publish with a so called “vanity publisher”, remember that you can not use the same text to write a scientific article later.
- Your thesis is already published in PDF-format at the BTH Institutional Repository DiVA.
- The dissemination of your document can not be better than it is at the moment, freely available via BTHs institutional repository DiVA.
BASE (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine)
DART Europe (E-theses Portal)
DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals)
OAISter (a union catalogue of millions of records representing open access resources)
Open Access Button (Search resources for legal full text articles)
OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Repositories)
OpenROAR (Registry of Open Access Repositories)
RECODE (Policy Recommendations for Open Access to Research Data in Europe)
Sherpa/RoMEO (Publishers copyright policies & self archiving)
Unpaywall (Plug-in for finding OA full-texts)