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Open access: progress, possibilities, and the changing scholarly communications ecosystem.

By all accounts, we're past the tipping point with open access (OA). During the past 10 years, open access has moved from the domain of disruptive technology to an increasingly adopted approach to research dissemination. Within the publishing world, OA journals are becoming so widely accepted, even some long-established players are moving OA from the sidelines to the heart of their strategies for the future. Universities in countries around the world have passed open access policies and are incorporating OA into the way in which they capture, collect, and disseminate researcher output.

Increasing numbers of research funding organizations and national governments are pushing for public access, open access, and open data. By the numbers, open access has made great strides--a recent study conducted by Science-Metrix for the European Commission "aimed to measure the share of OA copies [of articles] available anywhere on the web, regardless of the status of the papers" ("Proportion of Open Access Peer-Reviewed Papers at the European and World Levels--2004-2011," Eric Archambault, Didier Amyot, Philippe Descamps, Aurore Nicol, Lise Rebout, & Guillaume I Roberge; I _2004-2011.pdf). Their study, produced for the European Commission DG Research & Innovation, found that by the end of 2012, nearly half of all peer-reviewed, scholarly research published in 2008 was freely-available on the web in some form.

While many open access advocates continue to push for faster access, broader reuse rights, and open data in addition to peer-reviewed scholarship, in all estimations, we have indeed crossed a major milestone. Many experts, such as Lars Bjornshauge, managing editor of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), indicate that the global dialogue has crossed the threshold to a new stage in its evolution: Says Bjornshauge, "We have won the discussion! Hundreds of universities, research funders and their organizations, governments, and the EU have finally realized putting research results behind paywalls doesn't work for research, higher education, industry, innovation, wealth, health and our societies."

Comments from Iryna Kuchma, EIFL's open access program manager, also reflect key milestones within open access: "More and more funders [are adopting] open access policies, and this is the biggest accomplishment. The Obama administration and the U.S. Congress are developing a framework to ensure that effective policies are established to provide access to research articles and data. There are significant open access policy developments in Europe at institutional, national and international levels. The open access movement in developing and transition countries is building momentum. In the last few years, we have been heartened to see open access advocacy gaining ground with policymakers, researchers, students, and librarians, and every day, we hear reports of real change occurring on the ground."

But even with policies springing up all over the world, a growing number of high-quality open access journals and an increasingly mature repository infrastructure, misconceptions about open access still abound. Piers Bocock, director of knowledge management and communication for the CGIAR Consortium (, works with agricultural researchers around the world and sees firsthand how researchers' collective level of awareness could be raised. "Many [researchers] still think of open access publishing as a lower-quality, non-peer reviewed process. Current incentives reward publishing in high-impact journals, and the assumption is that those articles can't be made open access without paying hefty author fees. But many in the open access world point to the fact that self-archiving [in open access repositories] is both legal and free of author fees."

The need to raise awareness among researchers and to address misconceptions is a common challenge around the world. Helena Asamoah-Hassan, university librarian, Kwame University of Science and Technology, Ghana, has been involved in advocacy efforts to promote open access at institutional, national, regional, and international levels. Asamoah-Hassan addresses similar themes within the African context: "African researchers have the greatest opportunity to access current research information and to disseminate that research output globally when they embrace OA publishing--the challenge now is how to get a good number of them to believe that OA publishing is authoritative, authentic, and economical."


Open access can be achieved through two main routes--by publishing in OA journals, traditionally referred to as the "gold" route, or by depositing a copy of articles into a "green" repository. But the infrastructure is far more complex and nuanced than these two color-coded routes imply.

On the publishing side, OA now includes several permutations based on levels of openness. For instance, hybrid journals remain toll access or pay-per-view for articles on a default basis, but give authors the option of paying a fee to make their articles free for others to access. Most of the large STM publishers now provide this option in order to comply with open access mandates yet still allow traditional subscription-based or pay-per-access business models to remain in place.

The formative definitions of open access refer to two types of openness--making research both free to access and free to use, adapt, reuse, or build upon. This second component of the standard definitions of OA is not fully adopted throughout the publishing world. In other words, not all articles that are free to access include reuse rights via a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY) or Creative Commons Public Domain License (CC-0).

This complexity within journal publishing is reflected in the DOAJ's recent announcement to revisit its inclusion criteria. (See Table 1 at left for the new criteria for inclusion in the DOAJ.) Now 10 years old and often seen as the authoritative source for determining whether a journal is open access, the DOAJ is refining its criteria to reflect the gradations and permutations in OA publishing. In addition, the new DOAJ criteria also codifies some best practices from what had been de facto standards within the wild west of OA publishing.

The complexity of the OA infrastructure doesn't end with journals. Repository managers face a variety of technical challenges to ensure interoperability with other systems, particularly systems tied to various facets of research workflows. From Kuchma's standpoint, "Embedding open access repositories into institutional processes, systems, and culture is still a big challenge. Repositories should be more firmly connected to researchers' workflows and to research management--e.g., via reporting and performance measurement functions of repositories. And," she adds, "we need to link research projects and their outputs more efficiently.

Kathleen Shearer, executive director Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), notes: "Open access has finally reached the tipping point, and OA laws and policies are being implemented in many jurisdictions including that of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the United States." According to Shearer, since these policies will have significant implications for repositories, there is a need to ensure that the repositories are interoperable across institutions and nations in order to develop a truly global and seamless research information system.

As online publishing platforms and repositories become more mature, developers are able to create new tools and functionality that go much further than replicating the traditional scholarly communication cycle. Many new tools are designed to work across standards-compliant publishing platforms and repositories, emphasizing the interconnectedness of these two streams and further complicating the landscape. For instance, ORCID ( provides authors with a persistent identifier to bring together their own publications stored in multiple systems and locations--including some publishers' platforms and repositories. PLOS's Article-Level Metrics (ALM) app (article-level-metrics.plos. org) is now available for adoption by repositories and journal publishers. Navigating this continually evolving terrain of interoperability standards, tools, and initiatives is no small feat.


The common model which has emerged for many OA journals, particularly within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields, is via article processing charges (APCs) or the "author-pays" model. In these instances, authors are charged a fee ranging from $99 USD (e.g., PeerJ) to around $2,900 at the highest end of the spectrum (e.g., PLOS Biology, PLOS Medicine). Most journals that charge APCs charge a few hundred dollars. Many charging APCs also provide waivers for authors from developing countries.

The reality is that in the United States and Europe, most APCs are indirectly paid for by funding agencies--increasingly, researchers are encouraged to incorporate the cost of publication into grant applications--or by their universities. Several universities have begun setting up open access publishing funds, funding which is earmarked specifically to help researchers cover APCs. In 2010, SPARC published a report, "Campus-Based Open-Access Publishing Funds: A Practical Guide to Design and Implementation," containing a series of resources, best practices, implementation tools, and case studies designed to share the experiences of early adopters of this practice (

But in many cases, these funds are not necessary: Not all OA journals charge a fee. Many OA journals fall into the category of so-called "Diamond OA," and publish their journals at no cost to authors, with costs absorbed by universities or other organizations publishing the journals.

The APC model does create opportunities for shady businesses to exploit the system. Some experts caution that funding agencies' willingness to pay for publishing could unintentionally inflate APCs. A more pressing issue has been the rise of so-called "predatory open access journals," journals with dubious business practices and/or publishing articles without a rigorous peer-review vetting process. (See Jeffrey Beall's Scholarly Open Access blog and Beall's list of potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers for more details on this topic: The problem of predatory OA has been increasing in recent years, even though these journals often have a poor reputation associated with them. The trouble is that this trend is affecting all of OA publishing, not just those without a rigorous peer-review process in place.


University support for open access has been steadily rising during the past 10 years, but the University of California (UC) passed a landmark OA policy which covers all peer-reviewed articles written by faculty from all 10 U.S. campuses and published after the policy was passed on July 24, 2013. The Aug. 2, 2013, press release, "Academic Senate Approves Open Access Policy" (, notes that the policy covers more than 8,000 faculty members who produce as many as 40,000 publications a year. The press release states:

   UC is the largest public research university in the world
   and its faculty members receive roughly 8% of all research
   funding in the U.S. With this policy UC Faculty
   make a commitment to the public accessibility of research,
   especially, but not only, research paid for with
   public funding by the people of California and the United
   States. This initiative is in line with the recently announced
   White House Office of Science and Technology
   Policy (OSTP) directive requiring "each Federal Agency
   with over $100 million in annual conduct of research and
   development expenditures to develop a plan to support
   increased public access to results of the research funded
   by the Federal Government.

Richard A. Schneider, professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, and chair of the Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication at UCSF, was quoted in the press release as saying: "The ten UC campuses generate around 2-3% of all the peer-reviewed articles published in the world every year, and this policy will make many of those articles freely available to anyone who is interested anywhere, whether they are colleagues, students, or members of the general public." Passing a mandate is step one; getting researchers to deposit their articles into the repository in compliance with university policies and funding agency policies can be an ongoing battle. The University of Minho in Portugal had one of the first open access mandates, and it still has one of the highest compliance rates among universities with such mandates. In 2013, approximately 70% of the university's research outputs was deposited into the repository in compliance with the policy. Eloy Rodrigues, director, Documentation Services, University of Minho, was succinct when asked about the critical elements for the University of Minho's success in this area: "To have a strong and clear mandate, with monitoring tools and procedures, and connect [the OA mandate] with individual and institutional repository and evaluation."

As we approach the 10 th anniversary of the earliest university OA policies--University of Minho passed its mandate in 2004--best practices for content recruitment from universities of all shapes, sizes, and locations are starting to emerge. In 2013, COAR published the report "Incentives, Integration, and Mediation: Sustainable Practices for Populating Repositories" ( pository-contentsustainable-practices-for-populating-re positories-report). The report offers three broad categories of practices:

1. Incentives: promoting the benefits of repositories through university advocacy and metrics, as well as the adoption of policies/mandates that require deposit

2. Integration: amalgamating repository services with other institutional services such as research information systems and research biographies

3. Mediation: implementing tools, workflows, and agreements that ease and simplify the deposit process

While libraries are often given the responsibility of overseeing the repository, the most successful OA policies are those receiving strong support from university leadership and administrators. Curt Rice, professor, University of Tromso, and currently a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study, suggests, "University leadership should definitely be driving discussions of OA. It is in the interest of any university leadership that the research done on campus is distributed as widely as possible, that it is cited as much as possible, and that its researchers take a position in their international research communities. OA makes work more available and more visible, and that alone is a good reason for leadership to push ahead."


For many researchers working in university settings, the most troublesome issue around open access is still the direct link between the impact factor of the journals in which their articles are published and whether they receive tenure or promotions. Many journals, particularly those which are newer or published outside of the global North, i.e., North America or Europe, are not given an impact factor; likewise, newer journals, such as all OA journals launched in the past few years, either do not yet have impact factors or have lower ones. Impact factor is calculated by measuring the average number of citations per article published in a journal during the preceding 2 years. The backwards nature of this measurement inherently favors more established journals. So, in researchers' minds, the question becomes whether to publish in a traditional journal with a higher impact factor and a legacy of prestige versus publishing in a newer OA journal, which could potentially be less helpful in securing tenure or a promotion.

As Rice sees it, "In some ways, the biggest barrier to OA is the prestige that a number of traditional journals have. I can tell my colleagues until I'm blue in the face that they should publish in OA outlets, but no one is going to walk away from getting an article into Science or Nature or The Lancet or Cell just because they aren't OA. And as a person in leadership, maybe I don't even really want them to, given the visibility of those journals." Ideally, Rice wishes those journals would

switch to an OA model, so all this could be done with. For now, tenure, promotion, grant evaluations, etc., all depend to a certain extend on having peers evaluate your work and your CV. "And," Rice concludes, "there's no denying that we give higher evaluations to work appearing in more prestigious journals; research has demonstrated this correlation. So, the system we have favors high prestige journals over low prestige journals. And since OA journals tend to be newer, they will tend to have lower prestige."

Too often, researchers get stuck at this roadblock. Yet because of the dual path of open access, in most cases, researchers have the opportunity to publish in the journal of their choice and still make their publications openly accessible. Most often, the issue is lack of awareness. For example, authors published in The Lancet or Cell automatically have the publisher's permission to archive the postprint (i.e., final draft post-refereeing) in an OA repository. Science allows authors to deposit pre-prints and the authors' post-prints. Nature is the most restrictive of this group, permitting only pre-prints to be deposited. (Note: These journal policies are based on information in the SHERPA/RoMEO database of publishers' copyright policies and self-archiving policies, found at romeo/search.php.) Here is when a university's OA policy often can be helpful: Many OA mandates stipulate that the university retains a nonexclusive right to deposit preprints or postprints into their repository.

Open access and challenges to the status quo within scholarly publishing have highlighted issues due to using impact factor as a proxy for quality. While many of these issues are not new, the changing landscape has led to more direct attacks by the community on the continued use of impact factor. As Bjorn Brembs, neurogenetics professor, University of Regensburg in Germany, and vocal critic of the impact factor, notes: "The IF [Impact Factor] is negotiated, irreproducible, and mathematically unsound. The empirical data indicate that any university basing any of their decisions on this number will risk their long-term standing and success." [See Bjorn Brembs, Katherine Button, and Marcus Munafo, "Deep Impact: Unintended Consequences of Journal Rank," published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, June 24, 2013, for further details: frontiersin. org/Human_Neuroscience/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00291/full.) "If the scientific community cannot base their most important decisions on evidence, it will be their undoing." In sum, Brembs states, "At this point in time, the data suggests that throwing dice is at least as good as using the IF, if not better."


Brembs is not alone in his frustration. In December 2012, a group of editors and publishers of scholarly journals met during the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco and produced a set of recommendations, referred to as the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). The introduction to DORA (am. states:

   The outputs from scientific research are many and varied,
   including: research articles reporting new knowledge,
   data, reagents, and software; intellectual property; and
   highly trained young scientists. Funding agencies, institutions
   that employ scientists, and scientists themselves, all
   have a desire, and need, to assess the quality and impact
   of scientific outputs. It is thus imperative that scientific
   output is measured accurately and evaluated wisely.

The declaration summarizes many of the problems with impact factor, but also makes an important point about other types of research outputs not disseminated via journals, i.e., research outputs not yet included in a systematic way in assessments of research. The declaration highlights this growing area, stating that recommendations "for improving the way in which the quality of research output is evaluated ... focus primarily on practices relating to research articles published in peer-reviewed journals." However, the recommendations "can and should be extended by recognizing additional products, such as datasets, as important research outputs."

DORA includes 18 recommendations for funding agencies, universities, and other institutions, publishers, and researchers. These recommendations are clustered around three themes:

   (1) The need to eliminate the use of journal-based metrics, such as
   Journal Impact Factor, in funding, appointment, and promotion
   considerations; (2) the need to assess research on its own merits
   rather than on the basis of the journal in which the research is
   published; and (3) the need to capitalize on the opportunities
   provided by online publication (such as relaxing unnecessary limits
   on the number of words, figures, and references in articles, and
   exploring new indicators of significance and impact).

Initial signatories of DORA included Randy Schekman, one of the three researchers sharing the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, and editor-in-chief of eLife, a new open access journal. As of the end of January 2014, more than

10,000 individuals and 400 organizations and institutions had signed the declaration. For Schekman, OA advocacy has continued: On Dec. 9, 2013, he published an opinion piece in The Guardian in which he attacked the impact factor on a highly public stage and encouraged scientists to eschew the "big brand" journals such as Nature, Cell, and Science in favor of publishing in open access journals. "Like many successful researchers, I have published in the big brands, including the papers that won me the Nobel prize for medicine, which I will be honoured to collect tomorrow. But no longer. I have now committed my lab to avoiding luxury journals, and I encour age others to do likewise." His reasons were interesting and extensive and worth a read: dec/09/nobel-winner-boycott-science-journals.


This last theme from the DORA recommendations alludes to the broad category of "altmetrics," i.e. various metrics which are beginning to emerge to measure the usage, reach, or impact of research. Most often, the term altmetrics is used to describe measures such as the number of times an article has been downloaded from a journal publisher's website or a repository, the geo-location of downloads, views of abstracts versus downloads of the full text, or the realm of references to a publication via social media--Facebook Likes, Tweets, or LinkedIn references. In today's environment, social media metrics are becoming fairly easy and straightforward to track using newly developed tools such as Impact Story, Plum Analytics, the London-based company Altmetric, and the PLOS Article-Level Metrics App.

On the other hand, the more challenging--and richer--data points are those which are difficult or impossible to systematically capture at this point in time. As Brembs explains, "Altmetrics measure attention, and inasmuch as attention is desired, altmetrics can help such decisions. But more metrics are required, for instance, reproducibility, methodological soundness or utility if qualities beyond attention need to be valued."

James Hardcastle, senior research executive, Taylor & Francis, spends much ofhis time working on data analysis of bibliometrics, citation analysis, and altmetrics. Hardcastle has some concerns with altmetrics: "We use metrics like citations, downloads, and now social media because they are easy to capture. What we want often to understand is how research is linked back to practical outcomes, for example [development of a new] drug treatment or [tracking how this research] has built upon others' work." While there are ongoing developments in the altmetrics community to try to capture more of this information, Hardcastle says it is very much still in development.

Furthermore, Hardcastle points out, "Metrics are only as good as the data they are based on." According to him, all of the metrics currently in vogue are difficult within the context of a truly global research ecosystem; he offers this example: "African Journals OnLine lists 202 journals from Nigeria [ajol. info/index.php/index/browse/country?countryId=156], [but] Scopus indexes 17 Nigerian journals and only four have impact factors." He adds that altmetrics have been created in London and the East Coast of the U.S. that are largely based on tools developed in Silicon Valley. "Online download figures require users to have reliable internet connections and not share PDFs via email or local hosting. Whichever metric we use will not represent the impact in the global South." This, he points out, "devalues research coming out of the global South and risks devaluing research targeted at outcomes" in this area of the globe.

Hardcastle also has some concerns with "how metrics effect motivation," noting, "By using counts of papers, we encourage people to 'salami-slice' their work. But using the Journal Impact Factor, we actively discourage the publication of duplicate or null studies. Altmetrics will have different issues around reward, but could we end up just rewarding scientists with the largest Twitter following or for writing the wittiest titles?"

Bjornshauge also suggests that altmetrics are not a panacea and believes that looking at references to research should not be the only indicator of impact but rather one piece of the puzzle. Bjornshauge thinks the question that universities should be asking is, "How would we measure the actual impact of our research, not only measuring the impact of research on research itself, but on society in a much broader sense?"


While much of the early dialogue surrounding open access focused on fields within sciences, mathematics, and engineering, open access in the humanities and social sciences faces some different issues. The Modern Language Association (MLA) has taken a leadership role among humanities and social science organizations in recent years, serving as a champion for pushing for innovation within scholarly publishing.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, director, scholarly communication, MLA, and visiting research professor of English, New York University, shares her thoughts on this environment within the humanities and social sciences: "One of the ways that the scholarly publishing landscape differs for the humanities and social sciences is its dramatically different funding model; while the level of grant support for the sciences has created the possibility of a fairly straightforward transition to gold open access through article processing fees, there is no comparable funding for research in the humanities and social sciences. As a result," she says, "organizations like the Modern Language Association are investigating entirely new modes of scholarly communication, like MLA Commons, rather than focusing on a change in who pays for existing publications."

Fitzpatrick asks researchers to think about the big questions when determining where to publish and how to disseminate their scholarship: "Humanities scholars, like scholars of all kinds, should be considering not just how their work might affect their own careers--that is to say, the relative prestige of the venues in which they publish--but also how their work might have the greatest possible impact on their fields as a whole and the culture at large. Those latter potentials are greatest where the work can be distributed as broadly as possible, where it can be openly discussed, and where it creates the potential for future collaborations."

A social science researcher, Deborah Lupton, senior principal research fellow and professor, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney, Australia, also reflects on how the scholarly publishing landscape differs for the humanities and social sciences. Like several others inter viewed for this article, Lupton mentioned a lack of awareness among researchers: "Scholars in the humanities and social sciences have yet to become aware of the issues related to OA Many have no idea what it is or how to do it. Those in the STEM fields are way ahead of us in these matters." She says, "OA journals are still very few in the HASS [Humanities and Social Sciences] compared with STEM fields and scholars in the HASS have not yet had to think about or deal with OA to any great extent. This is now changing as funding bodies are now beginning to mandate for OA for all researchers who they fund."

When asked what issues related to scholarly publishing humanities and social science researchers should be considering, Lupton responds: "HASS scholars need to learn about OA and the complexities around OA in relation to copyright, intellectual property, and simply 'how to do it.'" In her view, OA does not text to involve payment to journals for publication fees, but can be achieved for free via repositories. "I have attempted to promote this form of self-archiving to my colleagues in the interests of opening up research and data, promoting one's research and teaching, maximizing one's academic profile, and increasing interest in one's work from members of the public and potential students."


Within the university environment, open access is beginning to affect teaching as well as research endeavors. Jeffrey Pomerantz, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies at the School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, is teaching an Introduction to Metadata Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), which has led him to a new appreciation for open access.

In order to put together the syllabus for his course, Pomerantz wanted to use some chapters from a recently published book. He got in touch with the author and publisher and sought permission to distribute portions of the book at no cost to students enrolled in his course. The author and editor were amenable, yet the result was a significant investment of Pomerantz's time and resulted in "crippled PDFs," which students weren't able to print. "My point is: it was labor intensive to get this to happen. There's no way I can work directly with authors and publishers for a couple of dozen readings. I don't have the time to do that, neither does my institution. The only practical option is freely available resources."

Pomerantz reiterated, "It's just a practical matter that if I want students to have access to stuff, it has to be freely available. There's just no way around it."

Although MOOCs are currently the hot topic on university campuses around the world, students enrolled in traditional courses are becoming one of the biggest and most vocal groups of stakeholders pushing for open access. Nick Shock ey is SPARC's first director of student advocacy and director of the Right to Research Coalition (R2RC; http://www.right, a group of local, national, and international student organizations that advocate for researchers,

universities, and governments to adopt more open scholarly publishing practices. Under Shockey's leadership, R2RC has grown to represent just under 7 million students in approximately 100 countries around the world.

Shockey reflected on why he thinks students are so interested in open access, noting: "The experience of hitting a paywall is nearly universal among students." Because the frustration of not having access to a needed article is something that anyone involved in research--not just students--can relate to, Shockey starts many of his presentations with a humorous screen shot from the Tumblr website. (Check out #WHATSHOULDWECALLGRADSCHOOL, "When the Paper I Need Isn't Available through my University's Subscription," at what when-the-paper-i-need-isnt-available-through-my, especially if you're a "Trekkie."). He adds that while students are all too familiar with the problems a closed scholarly publishing system creates, the OA solution isn't apparent, noting "Students' support for open access starts almost immediately with their introduction to this issue." Their support is quite simple, as Shockey points out: "Today's students have grown up with the copy and paste function and the Internet. At an intuitive level, they understand that this information should be available for everyone to read and build upon."

Advocacy is not the only way in which students can contribute to open access. Shockey points to an example of a new tool built by two U.K. students, who, within months of learning about open access, started the Open Access Button ( Users click the Button each time they encounter a paywall. "The button aggregates and visualizes all these collisions with paywalls around the world into a 'Map of Frustration' and then helps users find freely accessible copies of paywalled articles online--either in repositories or by emailing the corresponding author." Calling the Open Access Button, which launched in November 2013, "a fantastic project," Shockey says it is "a perfect example of what happens when students bring their creativity and enthusiasm to this issue."


Within the last few years, open access has gained traction at universities and from funding agencies. But outside academia, where access to expensive journal databases is often more limited, the implications for researchers to have full access to the body of science is even greater. One example is the field of agricultural research.

When asked if open access is important outside of the world of academia, Bocock responded: "Open access is--I would argue--more important outside of academia than in. For us at CGIAR, we look at open access as a means to put science-based data, information, and knowledge into the hands of those who need it most in a more rapid manner. What good is research if it stays locked up behind author fees and subscription journals? How can data be used to change the world when it sits in a proprietary database?"

Organizations such as the CGIAR Consortium, a group of 15 globally dispersed agricultural research centers working together for an environmentally sustainable, food-secure future, actively invest time, money, and resources in open access. Bocock believes that nonprofits, NGOs, and other members of the research community should push for open access and are now doing so. "The movement is growing, as we saw earlier [in 2013] when the G8 convened a meeting in Washington to push for open data for agriculture."

Bocock says CGIAR and the CGIAR Consortium, which is comprised of 10,000 staff, have made a commitment to its stakeholders, donors, and partners to become an open access organization. "We have been working for nearly a year in a collaborative manner to develop a CGIAR Policy on Open Access and Data Management. That policy was just approved and now paves the way for our Centers and Research Programs to move to more open publishing of research and data. We are also working closely with a number of public sector partners to help catalyze the open access movement."

Bocock also shares why many believe that open access is particularly valuable for agriculture and related fields. "Let's remember that one of the greatest challenges this planet faces is how to feed the predicted 9 billion people by 2050. How do we increase capacity, productivity, and accessibility, and, at the same time, do it without destroying our environment?" Big questions such as these, Bocock maintains, must be addressed by using all available data, information and knowledge. "Our belief is that this will happen much faster with open access, investments in research will be more efficient, and the impact will be greater."

CGIAR is not alone within the field of agricultural research--among other examples, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO;, an arm of the United Nations, has been working to support open access in various ways for many years.


Most arguments against open access come from publishers and focus on lost revenues. But these arguments are losing steam as more of the big players in STM publishing offer OA options, and OA publishers are beginning to break even or generate a profit. Springer, a major player in the STM publishing world, has gone so far as to recently announce in a press release, "Open access is now at the heart of Springer's strategy, and with BioMed Central delivering an increasingly substantial fraction of the company's growth, the time is right to fully integrate BioMed Central into Springer to ensure that the full potential of open access publishing at Springer can be achieved" ("Matt Cockerill to leave BioMed Central/ Springer: BioMed Central mission and branding to remain unchanged," Sept. 17, 2013; ter/pressreleases/20130917).

But other arguments against open access remain, and new, unintended consequences of OA are still emerging. Society publishers, professional associations which produce academic journals for their disciplines, or university presses by and large have not embraced OA publishing. As Jason M. Kelly, director of the Indiana University-Purdue University Indi anapolis (IUPUI) Arts and Humanities Institute and associate professor of British history, wrote on his blog:

[An] argument against open access often comes from scholarly societies themselves. After all, they are often the organizations that produce academic journals, and their budgets often depend on revenue from journal subscriptions. And, since professional societies have historically been essential to academia--hosting conferences, serving as advocates for the profession, and providing a variety of supplementary benefits--declines in revenue from the journals could undermine their viability ( green-gold-and-diamond-a-short-primer-on-openaccess/Last accessed 10/24/2013, Jan. 27, 2013).

While the general consensus is that free access to information is good for development, there are some questions surrounding potential drawbacks to this model for developing countries. Susan Murray, managing director of African Journals Online (AJOL), has expressed concerns about unintentional consequences of OA on local publishing ? organizations across Africa. For example, Murray has raised questions as to whether APC waivers for authors i from developing countries lead to a preference for African authors to publish in journals based out of the global north or if the practice of international publishing houses acquiring local journals leads to gaps in knowledge transfer around the practices of publishing, editing, and peer review.


All of the changes within scholarly communication are pushing librarians and information professionals to develop new skills and enhance existing skills to meet the challenges of today's environment. In addition to her ongoing work at EIFL to support open access, Kuchma is serving as the chair of the new Joint Task Force on Librarians' Competencies in Support of E-Research and Scholarly Communication. She explains the impetus for the task force:

   Rapid changes in technology and associated shifts in
   research and scholarly communications are profoundly
   changing the role of libraries in the 21st century. The
   emergence of e-research, for example, is bringing about
   new ways of doing science across the globe, compelling
   libraries to adopt new services such as assisting with
   the development of research data management plans,
   hosting collaborative virtual research environments,
   managing open access repositories, and helping to
   publish open access journals and books. These novel
   services require a range of new skills and expertise
   within the library community as well as a shift in organizational
   models for libraries.

The task force was launched in August of 2013 by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), and the Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER). Kuchma notes that, "disseminating research outputs through open access is one of the major issues, but there are also others like digital preservation, research data management and sharing, hosting virtual environments and e-research support. But of course, openness is the key."

Shearer also reflects on the evolving roles of libraries necessary to support repositories and the OA infrastructure in an "increasingly dynamic environment." She says, "I think perhaps the greatest challenge [for libraries] is maintaining relevance during times of rapid change. Repositories are not static infrastructure [s] but rather a set of services that must continuously evolve to support the changing needs of their stakeholder communities. Libraries will also have to devote more resources to repository services as they become more central to their mission."

All of these areas build upon the central focus of libraries around the world-- providing access to information--yet reflect the dramatic changes within scholarly communication that have taken place in the last decade and which continue to evolve.


The arena of scholarly communication as a whole is still ripe for innovation--open access is simply an element of that ecosystem. From the perspective of researchers, we still have a long way to go. As Brembs sees it, "OA is just one aspect of a badly lacking scholarly infrastructure.... Open access is only addressing 1% of the issues. If we had universal OA tomorrow, 99% of the problems would still be unsolved."

In "The Infrastructure Crisis of Science," a presentation at SPARC Munich in July 2013, ( sparc-munich), Brembs described the "infrastructure crisis of science" in three areas: (1) dysfunctional scholarly literature, (2) scientific data in peril, and (3) non-existent software archives. Brembs wrote: "Today's intellectual output of scholars manifests itself in text, software, and data. There is no digital infrastructure in place to take care of any of these products in any functional way. What we have is either dysfunctional (literature), a stop-gap measure (data), or non-existent (software). At the same time, the funds required for this infrastructure are being handed out in the form of publisher profits."

Fitzpatrick sees the future in terms of Open Scholarship as well as open access. She explained: "Open scholarship, by contrast [to open access, which is fundamentally changing the economic model of scholarly publishing], focuses on opening up the processes of scholarly research, so that the many stages along the way toward a final publication are shared openly in a way that lends itself to discussion and collaboration. Open scholarship is therefore more fundamentally about rethinking the ways that researchers today work."

An area in which Rice expects to see continued changes is digital archiving--and he hopes that libraries and publishers do a better job of transitioning the process of archiving to the digital arena. "The issues that are difficult [include] digital publishing of 'traditional' (i.e. non-OA) journals," Rice notes, adding that there are a couple of different challenges, one being that it is simply not feasible for a library to download and archive copies of everything it subscribes to. Therefore, Rice asks, how much confidence can there be that these articles will still be here 50 years from now? "Traditionally," he says, "we would have to trust that the university and its library would be around, and that if any one institution/library were to close down, that lots of other libraries also would have copies of the journals or books that had been produced." That scenario has changed now, not only because there is so much to keep track of, but because doing so requires a lot of digital storage space and technological expertise. Consequently, responsibility for archiving has shifted a bit from libraries to publishers, who of course intend to keep their material available in perpetuity. However, Rice foresees the day when some particular publisher may close shop and asks, "What happens then?

Fortunately, Rice notes, there are some efforts underway to tackle this problem, however, as he puts it, this is very much a work in progress. "As these archives become more and more comprehensive, I sleep a little better. But I want to emphasize that this work requires good funding, high levels of technical proficiency, and the cooperation of the publishers. With open access publishing, we're less dependent on the last of these, and can spend more energy focused on the actual archiving work."

From the library and repository community, a different set of issues emerged. When asked what big issues we should be considering, Rodrigues responds, "I think the big issues for open access in the short term are policy alignment and coordination and technical coordination and interoperability." Here are more of his comments on these issues:

   Regarding policy alignment and coordination, it should happen
   between research [conducting] organizations (like universities) and
   research funders, and also across national and regional borders, as
   we are aiming [for] in Europe ... Researchers work in several
   contexts in a certain period (i.e. at one or more institutions,
   with different funders financing their research), and they should
   not be required to comply with different policies.

   Policies should require universal OA available through repositories
   (green OA mandates), offering support to gold OA (through APCs or
   by subsidizing publishing OA journals without APCs), but in a way
   that doesn't promote the increase of APCs, "hybrid OA," or longer
   embargoes to green OA.

   Regarding interoperability and technical coordination, we need to
   work on the issues we've identified in the COAR Report, The Current
   State of Open Access Repository Interoperability

   In the medium and long term, I think the issues of open data and
   linked publication data or enriched publications will be big and
   important issues.

Bjornshauge references to similar themes when talking about the next big issues facing open access as it becomes more mainstream: "Making open access work, maintaining and developing sustainable infrastructure services, changing researchers' attitudes, changing rewards systems to eliminate obstacles for the progress of OA, transfer soft mandates into hard mandates, and getting mandates where there are [none] today."

While individual researchers can choose to publish in OA journals or deposit their manuscripts in OA repositories, the real growth of OA has occurred through mandates at all levels--by universities, funding agencies, research organizations, regional and national governments. We have reached the tipping point and appear to have more than half of all scholarly, peer-reviewed research freely accessible via repositories, websites, or publishers' platforms; even so, there is still a large block of research still locked up behind paywalls. However, the percentage of "closed" research continues to decrease, and in coming years should diminish at an even greater rate.

Five Ways Librarians Can Support Open Access

Libraries have always been involved in supporting access to information and knowledge, but open access brings with it new roles, responsibilities, and opportunities for libraries. As Kathleen Shearer, executive director of the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), believes, supporting open access should not be the exclusive domain of academic libraries: "People outside the academic community are [also] beneficiaries of open access. Until now, many scholarly journals have been far too costly for public and even special libraries to subscribe to. Therefore, other libraries have an interest in the expansion of open access. Advocating for OA on behalf of their users could be very helpful, including collecting stories about the benefits of OA for their clients." Furthermore, she notes, "libraries can and should take an active role in promoting OA."

The tremendous growth in openly accessible research mixed with the complexity of the OA infrastructure and rampant myths around OA lead to opportunities for all types of libraries--public libraries, corporate and special libraries, and academic/research libraries--to get involved, particularly in terms of raising awareness and getting involved in advocacy issues.

Here are five ideas for how all types of librarians and information professionals can get involved in supporting open access.

1. Encourage use of OA literature.

All libraries, everywhere in the world should be promoting their users--whether students, researchers, staff from an organization, or members of the public--to incorporate open access into their information-seeking tactics. OA literature can be found through Google, Google Scholar, Bing, Microsoft Academic, other search engines, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) or by directly going to repositories or OA journals.

Libraries of all types should be encouraging students, researchers, and their core constituents to incorporate the use of OA literature into their work.

2. Raise awareness about OA.

Libraries have a key role to play in debunking myths runing rampant around open access. Three common examples should spark librarians to spring into awareness raising: 1) OA literature isn't peer-reviewed, 2) OA literature is inherently low quality, and 3) publishing in OA journals requires steep author fees.

Host events at your library or start an outreach campaign to raise awareness about OA. See for ideas.

3. Lead by example.

Most of the work libraries do to support OA is focused on authors and researchers, yet we have many opportunities to use and add to the growing body of OA materials. For instance:

* Use CC-licensed materials in your presentations, handouts, brochures, and posters

* Apply CC licenses to materials you create to allow others to reuse.

* Deposit articles, presentations, and reports into appropriate subject repositories such as E-LIS (http://eprints.rclis. org/) or your own institutional repository if one is available.

* Consider publishing in open access journals.

* Consider implementing an OA policy or issuing a statement in support of OA by the library.

4. Advocate for OA.

Get involved in national, international, or regional advocacy campaigns. Pay attention to current proposals for legislation in support of open access and public access. For example, within the United States during 2013, several legislative acts were introduced into Congress, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a public access directive. This activity at the national level usually includes requests for public comment and/or public hearings in which librarians should contribute comments or participate. Furthermore, anyone interested in supporting Senate or House legislation should contact their congressional representatives to urge them to support the bill(s).

OA advocacy exists on many levels; national policies are just one opportunity. Urge professional organizations to support OA by issuing their own policies, converting subscription-based journals to OA models, and setting up repositories to enhance access to organizations' grey literature and articles. Academic and research libraries can provide encouragement for institutional policies and develop the necessary infrastructure to support policies.

5. Professional development for all librarians.

All members of the profession should be engaging in professional development in order to stay informed and aware of developments within the field of scholarly communication. Rapid changes in the field, blurred boundaries between publishing and library initiatives, and an increasingly complex technical environment demand that all librarians and managers become more proficient in areas of scholarly communication, metadata, repository technology, and interoperability.


Several individuals contributed their opinions and ideas to this article. Many thanks to the following people for sharing their thoughts via email interviews: Helena Asamoah-Hassan (KNUST, Ghana); Lars Bjornshauge (DOAJ); Piers Bocock (CGIAR, France); Bjorn Brembs (University of Regensburg, Germany); Kathleen Fitzpatrick (MLA, U.S.); James Hardcastle (Taylor & Francis, U.K.); Iryna Kuchma (EIFL, The Netherlands); Deborah Lupton (University of Sydney, Australia); Jeffrey Pomerantz (University of Chapel Hill, U.S.); Curt Rice (University of Tromso, Norway); Eloy Rodrigues (University of Minho, Portugal); Kathleen Shearer (COAR); and Nick Shockey (Right to Research Coalition, U.S.).

by Abby Clobridge Director I Clobridge Consulting

Abby Clobridge ( is the managing director of Clobridge Consulting a boutique firm specializing in knowledge management, information management, and open access. Clobridge has worked with a range of organizations throughout the world, including various U.N. agencies; colleges and research universities; nonprofit, intergovernmental, and multi-stakeholder organizations; the news media; and private sector companies.

Comments? Email the senior editor (

Table 1: New Criteria for Inclusion in the Directory of Open Access
Journals (DOAJ)

According to New Criteria for Inclusion in the Directory of Open
Access Journals (, in order to be
listed in the DOAJ, a journal must meet the following criteria:

* Journal will be asked to provide basic information (title, ISSN,
etc.), contact information, and information about journal policies

* Journal is registered with SHERPA/RoMEO

* Journal has an editorial board with clearly identifiable members
(including affiliation information)

* Journal publishes a minimum of five articles per year (does not
apply for new journals)

* Allows use and reuse at least at the following levels (as
specified in the Open Access Spectrum,

* Full text, metadata, and citations of articles can be crawled and
accessed with permission (Machine Readability Level 4)

* Provides free readership rights to all articles immediately upon
publication (Reader Rights Level 1)

* Reuse is subject to certain restrictions; no remixing (Reuse
Rights Level 3)

* Allow authors to retain copyright in their article with no
restrictions (Copyrights Level 1)

* Author can post the final, peer-reviewed manuscript version
(postprint) to any repository or website (Author Posting Rights
Level 2)
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Title Annotation:SEARCHER'S VOICE
Author:Clobridge, Abby
Publication:Online Searcher
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2014
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