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Scholarly Communications

What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) content, which includes open scholarly articles, open data, open research, open education, is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.

There are different ways of engaging with open access

There are two primary vehicles for delivering OA to research articles, OA journals ("Gold OA") and OA repositories ("Green OA"). The main difference between them is that OA journals conduct peer review and OA repositories do not. Institutional Repositories can contain peer-reviewed journal articles that are published elsewhere. They can also contain pre-prints and post-prints of scholarly published articles.

There is also Gratis OA and Libre OA. Gratis OA removes no permission barriers and Libre OA removes one or more permission barriers.  (Both of them remove price barriers.)

Jonathan Eisen, Nick Shockey and Jorge Cham, SPARC and PhD Comics, 2013.

OA Myths Debunked

Myth:  Open Access is a subversive movement that will ultimately undermine our copyright system.

Fact: Open Access works entirely within our current copyright system. Your work as an author is copyrighted to you the moment you fix it in a tangible medium of expression (typing it into Word and clicking Save, for example). You retain that copyright until you give some or all of it away.

Myth: Open Access will destroy the scholarly publishing system and cause journals to fail.

Fact: New models are emerging in scholarly publishing. One safeguard that many journals implement is a time-limited embargo on open access. Journals recoup most of the publishing costs within the first year of publication. Articles can then be made open access without loss of revenue.
Many journal publishers (Oxford, Cambridge, Wiley, Sage, etc.) have also decided to change their business model from subscription-only, cost-recovery, to a hybrid model, in which open access articles are published alongside traditional ones. Article processing fees are charged to recoup the publishers' costs. Hybrid journal policies should be examined carefully, however; some allow free access to the article but do not allow any of the derivative uses associated with true open access.

See "When is Open Access Not Open Access?

Myth: Open Access journals are not peer-reviewed and are of low quality.

Fact: Open Access journals, just like any other journal, can be peer-reviewed or not, depending on the journal policy. The fact that the journal is open access says nothing about whether it is peer-reviewed. Most scholarly open access journals are peer-reviewed.

Myth: If I want to publish open access I have to submit my article to an open access journal.

Fact: You can submit and publish your article in any journal you like and still make it available open access in our research repository, Scholarship@Claremont. You just need to plan for this in advance. You can submit the article to Scholarship@Claremont at the same time that you submit it to the journal of your choice, giving the library the right to make it available (subject to an embargo period if you like).

Myth: If I try to retain some rights, publishers will think I am difficult and will not want to publish my work.

Fact: Publishers are very used to dealing with these requests at this point. Far from being unusual, the retention of rights by authors is becoming a mainstream choice.  Approximately 72% of academic journals allow some form or open access archiving without any use of an addendum to the contract.  For a searchable database of publisher policies about copyright and archiving, explore the SHERPA/RoMEO site.

Myth:  Publishing my work open access is a nice, altruistic thing to do, but there is nothing in it for me.

Fact: Open access publishing does help address inequities in access to knowledge globally. Few people in the world have access to the resources we have here at Boston College. But, in addition, most studies show a clear citation advantage for open access publications. Open access publications are cited more often than those that are subscription-only and citation counts are still important factors in tenure and promotion decisions.