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Scholarly Communication 101

June 5, 2009
Open Access

Open Access

Today I attended one of the ACRL Scholarly Communication 101 workshops, held at the Uniersity at Buffalo.  It was an excellent workshop and met my expectations perfectly.

I have presented information about new forms of scholarly communication in the past, including Nature Network and ScienceBlogs.com, but I was missing some basic information, and this workshop filled in the gaps nicely.

Some interesting factoids about scholarly publishing

  • STM publications make up 84% of the $19.1 billion industry
  • 91% of the dollars spent on journals go to the for-profit publishers
  • Papers in the for-profit publications only account for 38% of citations

The business model of publishing scientific papers isn’t really working, and right now everyone is trying to figure out what to do about it.  Publishers are clinging to traditional business practices (getting content from scholars for free, charging libraries a lot of money for access).  Library budgets are shrinking, and we can’t afford to purchase access to everything.

One possible solution:  open access models of publication.

I am a big advocate of open access, and this workshop explored some of the advantages of the model.

One example that struck home with me was the story of a faculty member approaching the library and asking that his publications be archived in their institutional repository.  The library had to tell him that unfortunately, this wasn’t possible:  the faculty member hadn’t retained the right to his publications.  Typical author agreements normally assign copyright to the publisher.  The publisher occasionally grants certain rights back to the author, but not always.

Open access publication would allow a researcher to do what he or she wants with the results of their research.

The educational mission of universities encourages us to encourage open access publication.  Open access allows more readers to learn from the research conducted by scholars.

Libraries and librarians should do everything they can to encourage their faculty to publish in open access journals, or at least retain the copyright to their work.  Some libraries are assisting authors in paying author fees in open access publications.  Other libraries are publishing open access journals.  Some libraries are supporting consortia that encourage open access publication.  At the least, librarians can help inform their faculty about opportunities for open access publication, and educate them about the benefits to themselves, their colleagues, and their students.

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