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Scholarly Communication and Open Access   Tags: how do i...?, special topics  

Last Updated: Apr 18, 2014 Guide URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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What is Open Access?

Open access (OA) is a publishing practice that allows digital, online access to articles and book chapters free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.

OA articles may either be published in open access journals, or, they may be  be self-archived by the author in an open access repository like the University of California repository eScholarship, the Social Science Resarch Network, SSRN, or the Cornell University hosted arXiv

OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance.

Read a brief introduction to OA here


Benefits of Open Access

1. More readers. Open Access provides barrier free access to information.  As library budgets around the world continue to shrink, fewer and fewer people will have access to articles that are only available to subscribers. Open access articles get read more.

2. Public good. Open access literature can be read not only by scholars at non-subscribing institutions, but by medical practioners, high school students, employees of private industry, taxpayers who may have helped fund it - anyone with an internet connection.

3. Shifting business models in the scholarly publishing industry. Scholars write and review articles for journals; journal publishers do not pay them for this work, but they do charge the scholars' institutions subscriptions - sometimes extremely expensive ones. For-profit publishers are still reporting operating profit margins between 30 and 45%, while campus budgets shrink. Meanwhile, nonprofit publishers are demonstrating great value, online publishing presents new technological possibilities, and authors are starting to pay more attention to the power they hold in the system. Open access is only one piece of the puzzle of a more efficient system, but it's an important one.


How Can I Make My Article Open Access?

  • Post it in an open access repository (if you already have permission). Depending on the language in the publishing agreement of the particular journal your work appears in, you may already have the right to post some version of your article in an open access repository. The University of California has an OA respository for any UC staff, student, or faculty member called eScholarship. There are also a number of discipline-specific repositories, such as the Social Science Resource Network (SSRN). You can search for others at the Open Access Directory

  • Publish in an open access journal. You can have the benefits of open access without the step of self-archiving if you choose to publish in an open access journal. If you're not familiar with an open access journal in your field, you can search the Directory of Open Access Journals to find one. Many of the most prominent open access journals are in computer science and the life sciences, but reputable, high-impact journals are becoming more common across all fields. For example, SAGE recently launched SAGE Open, a multidisciplinary open access journal for social and behavioral sciences and humanities.


Does my journal allow self-archiving?

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Use this site to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement.


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Find OA Journals

DOAJ directory of open access journals

Search the Directory of Open Access Journals for free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals in your discipline.

Search provided by DOAJ: Directory of Open Access Journals

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