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Open Access

Open Access

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Open Access
    Book Description:

    The Internet lets us share perfect copies of our work with a worldwide audience at virtually no cost. We take advantage of this revolutionary opportunity when we make our work "open access": digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. Open access is made possible by the Internet and copyright-holder consent, and many authors, musicians, filmmakers, and other creators who depend on royalties are understandably unwilling to give their consent. But for 350 years, scholars have written peer-reviewed journal articles for impact, not for money, and are free to consent to open access without losing revenue. In this concise introduction, Peter Suber tells us what open access is and isn't, how it benefits authors and readers of research, how we pay for it, how it avoids copyright problems, how it has moved from the periphery to the mainstream, and what its future may hold. Distilling a decade of Suber's influential writing and thinking about open access, this is the indispensable book on the subject for researchers, librarians, administrators, funders, publishers, and policy makers.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-30173-2
    Subjects: Library Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Bruce Tidor

    The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series presents short, accessible books on need-to-know subjects in a variety of fields. Written by leading thinkers, Essential Knowledge volumes deliver concise, expert overviews of topics ranging from the cultural and historical to the scientific and technical. In our information age, opinion, rationalization, and superficial descriptions are readily available. Much harder to come by are the principled understanding and foundational knowledge needed to inform our opinions and decisions. This series of beautifully produced, pocket-sized, soft-cover books provides in-depth, authoritative material on topics of current interest in a form accessible to non-experts. Instead of condensed versions...

    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. 1-28)

    Shifting from ink on paper to digital text suddenly allows us to make perfect copies of our work. Shifting from isolated computers to a globe-spanning network of connected computers suddenly allows us to share perfect copies of our work with a worldwide audience at essentially no cost. About thirty years ago this kind of free global sharing became something new under the sun. Before that, it would have sounded like a quixotic dream.

    Digital technologies have created more than one revolution. Let’s call this one the access revolution.

    Why don’t more authors take advantage of the access revolution to reach...

    (pp. 29-48)

    There are lamentably many problems for which OA is part of the solution. Here are fifteen ways in which the current system of disseminating peer-reviewed research is deeply dysfunctional for researchers and their institutions, even if highly profitable for the largest conventional publishers. I’ve limited the list to those for which OA offers some hope of relief.

    1. We are in the midst of a pricing crisis for scholarly journals. For four decades, subscription prices have risen significantly faster than inflation and significantly faster than library budgets. Subscription prices have risen about twice as fast as the price of healthcare, for...

    (pp. 49-76)

    There are many ways to deliver OA: personal web sites, blogs, wikis, databases, ebooks, videos, audios, webcasts, discussion forums, RSS feeds, and P2P networks.¹ Unless creative thinking stops now, there will be many more to come.

    However, two delivery vehicles dominate the current discussion: journals and repositories.

    OA journals are like non-OA journals except that they’re OA. Making good on that exception requires a new funding model, but nearly everything else about the journal could be held constant, if we wanted to hold it constant. Some OA journals are very traditional except that they’re OA, while others deliberately push the...

    (pp. 77-96)

    Authors control the volume and growth of OA. They decide whether to submit their work to OA journals (gold OA), whether to deposit their work in OA repositories (green OA), and how to use their copyrights. But scholarly authors are still largely unfamiliar with their OA options. It’s pointless to appeal to them as a bloc because they don’t act as a bloc. It’s not hard to persuade or even excite them once we catch their attention, but because they are so anarchical, overworked, and preoccupied, it’s hard to catch their attention.

    Fortunately, funding agencies and universities are discovering their...

  9. 5 SCOPE
    (pp. 97-124)

    As we saw in chapter 1, any kind of content can in principle be OA. Any kind of content can be digitized, and any kind of digital content can be put online without price or permission barriers. In that sense, the potential scope of OA is universal. Hence, instead of saying that OA applies to some categories or genres and not to others, it’s better to say that some categories are easier and some harder.

    OA is not limited to the sciences, where it is known best and moving fastest, but extends to the arts and humanities. It’s not limited...

    (pp. 125-132)

    OA could be implemented badly so that it infringes copyright.¹ But so could conventional publishing. Both OA and toll access have long since discovered the same recipe for avoiding copyright problems: For sufficiently old works, rely on the public domain, and for newer works under copyright, rely on copyright-holder consent. This shouldn’t be surprising. Toll-access publishers don’t have a shortcut to copyright compliance just because they charge money for access, and OA publishers don’t face an extra hurdle to copyright compliance just because they don’t charge for access. Copyright protects the revenue streams of those who choose to charge for...

    (pp. 133-148)

    Many publishers who oppose OA concede that OA is better for research and researchers than toll access.¹ They merely object that we can’t pay for it. But we can pay for it.

    The first major study of the economic impact of OA policies was conducted by John Houghton and Peter Sheehan in 2006. Using conservative estimates that a nation’s gross expenditure on research and development (GERD) brings social returns of 50 percent, and that OA increases access and efficiency by 5 percent, Houghton and Sheehan calculated that a transition to OA would not only pay for itself, but add $1.7...

    (pp. 149-162)

    Will a general shift to OA leave casualties?¹ For example, will rising levels of green OA trigger cancellations of toll-access journals?

    This question matters for those publishers (not all publishers) who fear the answer is yes and for those activists (not all activists) who hope the answer is yes. So far, unfortunately, it doesn’t have a simple yes-or-no answer, and most discussions replace evidence with fearful or hopeful predictions.

    The primary drivers of green OA are policies at universities and funding agencies. Remember, all university policies allow publishers to protect themselves at will. (See section 4.1 on policies.) For example,...

  13. 9 FUTURE
    (pp. 163-168)

    The basic idea of OA is simple.¹ But it has acquired crucial refinements over the years to answer objections and make implementation fast, easy, inexpensive, and lawful. This creates a tension. Because the basic idea is simple, it’s continually being rediscovered. However, people fresh to the concept haven’t yet absorbed the refinements that answer objections and make implementation fast, easy, inexpensive, and lawful.

    Hence, one transition complexity is the fresh convert who supports OA in theory but doesn’t understand how to pay for it, how to support peer review, how to avoid copyright infringement, how to avoid violating academic freedom,...

  14. 10 SELF-HELP
    (pp. 169-174)

    Publishing in an OA journal is like publishing in a conventional journal. Find a suitable journal and submit your manuscript. If you’re not familiar with the range of peer-reviewed OA journals, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lets you browse by field. If you don’t find an OA journal that meets your standards, check again when you’ve written your next paper. Things are changing quickly.¹

    If you find an OA journal high in quality but too new to be high in prestige, consider submitting good work there anyway, to help it earn prestige in proportion to its quality. Without...

    (pp. 175-176)
  16. NOTES
    (pp. 177-218)
    (pp. 219-222)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 223-242)