Evolutions in Scholarship

Rising awareness

Friday, July 27, 2012 9:24 pm

With the 2012 Summer Olympics underway, many eyes and ears are turned toward London, anxiously awaiting news of much hoped-for victories. But for many involved in scholarly publishing, our attention has been drawn across the Atlantic for some weeks now, as open access news has been coming from both the UK and the EU throughout the summer. To some, the news is welcome and championed as being a step in the right direction for ensuring public access to publicly-funded research. To others, it’s cause for concern. Here’s a quick overview of what is happening, and some thoughts on how these changes might impact us in the US.

In June, the “Finch Report“–a report of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, so-called for the chair of the group, Dame Janet Finch–was released, calling for the British government to support broad public accessibility to funded research articles via open access publishing. While the call for accessibility is laudable, the recommendation that it be achieved exclusively through open access publication and not archiving was sharply criticized. In mid-July, the Research Councils UK (RCUK) announced that under its new open access policy, all RCUK funded research articles submitted for publication beginning April 1, 2013 must be published in journals compliant with the new policy and be freely available to the public within 6 months (STM) or 12 months (social sciences and humanities), effectively meaning that in under two years, all RCUK research articles will be fully open access. The following day, the European Commission followed suit, announcing that under the Horizon 2020 research program, all funded research articles will be open access. While it is too early to predict how the implementation of these policies will impact research budgets and publishing (although some are trying), broad European political support for public access to research output is clear.

Closer to home, this week the U.S. News and World Report published an article on scholarly journals and open access. Although I share a colleague’s criticism of several misunderstandings in the article, the fact that such an article was published in mainstream media is telling. As Barbara Fister points out in her own Olympic-inspired post (hat tip for the theme prompt!), the rising awareness of inefficiency in the scholarly publishing industry and increasing demands for greater access to research outputs has been steadily rolling since January. The Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) is once again before Congress with strong bipartisan support, and the “We the People” petition to the White House calling for taxpayer access to publicly-funded research garnered over 28,000 signatures in less than half the 30 days allotted to reach 25,000.

Although the White House has not yet responded to the petition, and the FRPAA legislation may yet stall as we move ever-closer to November elections, I am encouraged by the multiple signs of increasing awareness of open access I have seen this year. I hope it continues. Oh, and Go Deacs competing in the Summer Games!

Sharing Your Research

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 8:19 am

Discoverability of research is vital to scholarship and the expansion of knowledge. Expectations for access to scholarly publications are changing. Are your publications optimized for maximum reach and impact?

As published research output increasingly becomes digitally delivered, expectations for easy access are the new norm. While faculty and students affiliated with large universities and colleges are typically able to access the full text of needed research outputs through electronic journals and ebooks with minimal clicks, researchers at smaller institutions or independent research firms are more likely to encounter barriers. Although there are options to gain access, many researchers have neither the time nor money to pursue access for an article or book that only might be beneficial to their scholarship.

As a scholarship producer, you have the power to lower or remove access barriers to your published research. Many publishers automatically allow authors to post the peer-reviewed-but-not-copyedited version of their papers on individual and institutional websites. Some publishers allow authors to archive those versions in subject or institutional repositories, such as arXiv or PubMed Central. Other publishers allow you to keep your copyrights and retain control over the final published version of your article by publishing under an open access model. For consultations on maximizing research accessibility, you can contact the Scholarly Communication Librarian.

Resources exist to help you determine what rights you have as an author when publishing in a particular journal, as well as to help you ask for rights you don’t already have or to find more rights-friendly publication venues.

  • SHERPA/RoMEO: database of author permissions normally granted in publication agreements; searchable by journal or publisher name; provides information on funder archiving requirements and author archiving allowances
  • DOAJ: Directory of Open Access Journals: search for free, full-text journals to find scholarship or explore publication venues
  • SPARC Author Rights: information on how to negotiate for author rights when publishing using the SPARC Author Addendum
  • Open Access Guide: resource guide on all things open access, including initiatives happening at Wake Forest University

Easy access to the full text of published research is not only desired, but by many is already expected. Researchers have unequivocally stated that if they cannot get access on the first couple of clicks, they move on. You do not want your research to be bypassed due to access barriers. Might you alter your publication strategies to ensure broader access?

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