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Scholarly Communications News: Open Access Publishing

This site provides information about Scholarly Communications issues.

Open Access News

Open Access Publishing

Open Access is defined by Peter Suber as "free, immediate, permanent, full-text, online access, for any user, web-wide, to digital scientific and scholarly material,[1] primarily research articles published in peer-reviewed journals. OA means that any individual user, anywhere, who has access to the Internet, may link, read, download, store, print-off, use, and data-mine the digital content of that article. An OA article usually has limited copyright and licensing restrictions." Ref 1 For more information see either the Wikipedia OA article or the ARL "Framing the Issue: Open Access" document. Another excellent OA overview article is provided by Peter Suber.

ACRL Open Access Policies & Publishing provides the library industry perspective on open access and related topics.

The Directory of Open Access Journals provides a list of international open access journals. A compliment to this list is the List of Predatory Journals -- which lists questionable journals - both commercial and open access in nature. 

See the Open Access Timeline. An interactive page shows an exhaustive history of the Open Access movement, with key dates and events from the 1970s to the present day.

A short but accurate description of the recent impacts on commercial publisher packages by Open Access journals. 

Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science, edited by Rajiv Jhangiani and Robert Biswas-Diener.

How do I find out more about Open Access?

Video explanations:

Open Access Explained! -- a short and entertaining video outlining some of the key issues in Open Access.

The Case for Open Access Publishing at UNC Charlotte -- a short video explaining the Berlin Declaration and the sustainability concern.

Video about paywall blockage (The Business of Scholarship) due to the protection of outrageous profit margins.

Read about activities related to International Open Access (OA) Week. The 2014 theme was "Generation Open," focused on the impact that students and early career researchers can have in shaping the Open Access movement.

Fair Use Week is a site created by ACRL to highlight the latest news about fair use considerations.

Open Access Discovery Tools

There are several browser extensions or plug-ins you can install that will search compiled collections of open access articles, as well as search the internet for an open access version of a desired article.

  • Open Access Button (OA Button): From the OA Button’s website, you can enter an article’s URL, DOI (a unique identifier), title, or other information to check for free and legal open access versions. Even better, the OA Button also offers Chrome and Firefox extensions. Once installed, these extensions will automatically search for an open access copy. When an open access copy is not found, the OA Button can contact the author directly.
  • Unpaywall: You can either directly search Unpaywall’s database of millions of open access articles by entering the DOI for an article, or (more easily) install the Chrome/Firefox browser extension, which will point you to any open access versions of paywalled articles you come across online.
  • Google Scholar has a button plug-in that locates open access materials. The button can be loaded from the Settings option on the top left of the Google Scholar page -- select the three bars, and then go to Settings. (The button also links to our resolver if you set the Library Links in Settings.)

A significant development is the move by Harvard University to assume responsibility for author rights.

This suite of Open Access pages has been created to keep our population informed of events and initiatives in this area.

SXU should educate our faculty about OA issues at Harvard and elsewhere, and attempt to have our faculty take a more active role in the dissemination of their scholarship. We will be increasing our outreach to our faculty during the next few months in order to better understand the special interests and develop a summary of possible actions.

The library has a responsibility to inform the administration and faculty about how these "disruptive influences" might change other elements within the scholarly communication system. How will peer review be supported and who will be paying? What is the value of content added by publishers - such as copy editing, language correction, linking capabilities, and image manipulation? What is the value of commercial indexing tools compared to free tools such as Google Scholar and ingenta (e.g. enhanced metadata, controlled vocabulary/ontologies)? How does OA affect the revenue streams of scholarly societies who subsidize other activities beyond the essential peer review?

Open access is an inevitable factor in the changing scholarly communication system; we must represent the interests of multiple populations as we redesign the entire scholarly network. Faculty members must be well informed about the costs and long-term implications of continuing untenable journal subscription inflation and the various business models available to support the required peer review process. Only then will faculty authors, editors, teachers, and readers work together with librarians and other stakeholders to change their behaviors and develop a cost-effective peer review network. Administrative and society based support will be required to balance the conflicting interests of many faculty within the present community.

Definitions to Clarify Related Terminology


Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open Access ensures that anyone can access and use these resources – to turn ideas into industries and breakthroughs into better lives." – SPARC

Open Education encompasses resources, tools and practices that are free of legal, financial and technical barriers and can be fully used, shared and adapted in the digital environment. Open Education maximizes the power of the Internet to make education more affordable, accessible and effective” – SPARC

Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.” – William & Flora Hewlett Foundation

Open? Affordable?

Open and affordable are also not the same. All that is open is affordable, but not all that is affordable is open.  Steven Bell of Temple University gave a webinar for the CARLI membership this past May, “Is that OER? Making Sense of the Current Textbook Affordability Landscape."

There are misperceptions about open resources.  SPARC released on Wednesday, OER Mythbusting.  This publication states that it “addresses the top seven myths about OER in North American higher education, as voted on my more than 100 faculty, librarians, students and other members of the OER community.”

Underlying Support Models

In addition to protests, some alternatives to traditional journal publishing are being developed.  The Public Library of Science, provides free reading, but the costs of peer review and publishing (distribution) is charged to the authors. Other manuscript repositories, such as the physics (and some additional disciplnes) preprint server arXiv, let users read and publish for free, but don't provide any form of peer review.


Another initiative that holds some promise is the Open Journal Systems (OJS), a journal management and publishing system that has been developed by the Public Knowledge Project through its federally funded efforts to expand and improve access to research. OJS assists with every stage of the refereed publishing process, from submissions through to online publication and indexing.   This has resulted in significantly reduced author charges, and might be a pltform that could operate on other types of revenue streams such as grant funding, direct federal subsidies, and association fees.


  • eLife, a not-for-profit publication created jointly by he Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Trust. A 21-member senior editorial board and 175-member board of reviewing editors is compensated for its work, and researchers won't have to pay a fee to submit or publish their work.
  • PeerJ lets a researcher pay once and continue to publish without incurring an additional fee, assuming the articles pass peer review. The cost structure is $99 for one article, $169 for two articles, and $259 for unlimited use. However, these prices were slated to increase to $129, $239, and $349, respectively, after Sept. 1. A group-pricing scheme is also an option, so a lab or even an entire institute could purchase lifetime access.
  • BiO charges a fee of $1,350 upon acceptance for each paper. BiO also invites authors who have made their original submissions to its journals (Development, Disease Models & Mechanisms, Journal of Cell Science, or The Journal of Experimental Biology) to transfer their manuscripts if their papers are not accepted.
  • Open Biology, from the Royal Society, offers  a turnaround time of 4 weeks from submission to first decision. The standard $1,932 article processing charge for authors can vary, depending on the volume and complexity of content. Charges are only made if an article is accepted for publication; there is no charge for submission.
  • The Open Library of Humanities (OLH) recognizes that the economics of humanities journal publishing requires different business models. The OLH has received two substantial grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to date, and has built a sustainable business model with its partner libraries. 

Send any comments or concerns to the Library Director, at or phone (773) 298-3357.

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