Acting up, opening
In the 1980s, a new and frightening epidemic was devastating a generation of gay men. Remedies from elected officials and public agencies were appallingly slow or non-existent. Ronald Reagan, then US president, steadfastly refused to acknowledge the epidemic by publicly saying the word ‘AIDS’. In response, a group of activists began to meet in New York City and formed the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, eventually better known as ACT UP. One of ACT UP’s key strategies was to interrupt the business as usual – ACT UP swarmed public officials’ offices and meetings, blocked traffic, and disrupted conferences, events, and even news broadcasts where people with AIDS were erroneously represented or underrepresented – in order to draw public attention to the HIV/AIDS crisis and to elicit action from policy makers. ACT UP members thoroughly investigated and explored HIV/AIDS and the conditions that sustained it, and became experts on the research and treatment of the disease. ACT UP brilliantly translated, publicized, and fittingly promoted, criticized, and supplemented HIV/AIDS research and reporting (or the lack thereof) by leveraging civil disobedience with skillful and persistent media outreach. Outraged that so many of my comrades, friends, and colleagues were dying, and eager to fight back against the neglect and hatred lashing back at queer people of all varieties because of this disease, I (Thistlethwaite) joined the group in 1988. Somewhat unexpectedly, it was through ACT UP that I learned to be an advocate for open access to scientific and scholarly information.
ACT UP members investigated medical and legal matters for political work and for friends. In preparation for every direct action, we held teach-ins and assembled fact sheets for activists in the group, for people who we encountered during the action, and for journalists. Activists prepared to talk to the press by learning about the issues, by incorporating our research into our visual agitprop, and by practicing delivery of a personally meaningful line or two. Members researched everything relevant to the crisis – from treatment options and drug regimens to economic inequality, mortality rates by zipcode, and legislative initiatives. We researched women’s reproductive health, housing policy, policing strategies, racism in medical public health practices, sex work, and patterns of intravenous drug use. We explored how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted clinical trials, then we critiqued them publicly and repeatedly, at one point staging a massive direct action protest at NIH headquarters. I spent many evenings and weekends working with ACT UP, and my day job also presented an opportunity for activism.
As a research librarian, I could invite guests without university affiliations into my workplace to allow them access to print journals, books, and research databases that were only available at that time, pre-Internet, inside library buildings. I was not alone in this work. There were doctors, nurses, lawyers, students, faculty and many other librarians who leveraged their credentials to tunnel into and ‘liberate’ the rich stores of information locked inside institutions of higher education so it could be used by non-academics who needed it. We connived and colluded for wider access to medical, legal, public health, social science, education, and humanities literature. All of it was valuable to further ACT UP’s aims in some way. Yet, little of it was freely available to everybody who needed or wanted it, including the people who were dying from this disease. If I didn’t fully comprehend it before I became a librarian, it was through this experience that I truly learned that access to scientific and scholarly information is a fundamental human right.
The emergence of digital technologies bears the possibility and the promise of openness. By the mid-1990s it was clear to us and many others that the World Wide Web could deliver electronic copies of books and articles, at low cost, to anyone with an Internet connection. In 2000, the British venture BioMed Central began publishing articles openly online. In the US, the NIH (alert to this issue because of ACT UP’s constant barrage on the topic) and the National Library of Medicine launched PubMed Central, an open repository of biomedical and life sciences literature. PubMed Central was followed by the 2003 launch of the Public Library of Science (PLOS) and shortly thereafter by PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine – all high-quality journals openly and immediately available upon publication to anyone. Digital technologies and the resulting lower barriers to publishing drove these developments, in part. These changes in scholarly publishing were certainly responses to activism that demanded free and open health and medical research.
For a variety of reasons, not least of which are different funding mechanisms, scholarly publishing in the humanities and social sciences has been less transformed by the digital turn. These fields predominantly still operate under legacy models of scholarly publishing.
The legacy model of scholarly publishing is broken
The legacy formats of scholarship – printed and bound volumes, circulating through closed collections, intended for small audiences of specialists – continue to shape scholarly production practices, but this does not work as well as it could for faculty authors, readers, and libraries.
The way scholarly publishing works is difficult to explain to anyone outside the system, because it makes so little sense. Unlike literary authors, journalists, filmmakers or any other cultural workers, academics do not get paid directly for published work. We are paid as faculty members for teaching, for administration, and for research, writing, and even – if you include it in our institutional salaries – for publishing. When it comes to writing and publishing, academic authors operate in a ‘gift exchange’ culture, where we ‘donate’ our work and copyright to academic publishers for free (Borgman, 2007). While some academic book publishers offer small payments (in advances or royalties), most do not.
When publishing in academic journals, faculty are never compensated. Instead, they perform unpaid, and often invisible, labor in the form of peer review of others’ work for journals. Work such as serving on journal editorial boards, and even editing journals, is also unpaid, but it does show up on a faculty member’s academic résumé (or curriculum vitae), because it is an element of service required to be successful for academic promotion and tenure. In exchange, faculty receive the publishers’ copyediting, formatting, and distribution of a work, and they gain the credential of a peer-reviewed publication that is required for their promotion and tenure. This line of academic credibility gets translated back into currency that academic institutions recognize and reward.
Financial compensation is one thing, and copyright is another. Again, unlike many other cultural workers, academics do not usually hold the copyright to their own work. Instead, under pressure of time to achieve and to advance, academics are encouraged to ‘donate’ their copyright to publishing houses. Those terms of donation are not usually favorable for the donating scholar. The standard copyright agreement that most academic authors sign gives away every right to publishers. Publishers retain authors’ copyright in perpetuity – meaning until the author’s death and beyond – unless authors make special, non-traditional contractual arrangements. Few academics know how or why, or can afford the extra time and effort to bother with this. Thus, for academic authors this publishing model offers a reliable form of credentialing, but it trades on ‘donated’ labor, enriches commercial publishers, and leaves authors without the right to freely distribute their own work, ever.
Of course, authors are also readers. The legacy model of publishing does not serve those who seek to read widely either. For example, Sarah Kendzior, a researcher for Al Jazeera English who often writes about publishing in academia, says:
I have a PhD, I do scholarly research, but I am not affiliated with a university. When I am doing research, I have to use other people’s logins/passwords in order to access the latest academic articles in my field – articles which often cite my own work. (quoted in Tadween Editors, 2013)
The legacy model of publishing assumes a small readership of academics who enjoy affiliation with a research library. To the users affiliated with a subscribing library, this privileged access is often invisible. Like shopping software that remembers a credit card number, library software has by and large succeeded in reducing repeated credentialing hoops that users must jump through to reach research articles and eBooks, facilitating a relatively seamless flow of credentialed access through personal devices once the login is initially applied. This can lull scholars with institutionally credentialed access to databases of academic journal articles into a false sense of universality, by masking just how rarefied that access is, at the same time that it makes access to scholarly literature more convenient for credentialed scholars.
People without a university affiliation encounter sharply limited access to academic research. Unaffiliated researchers like Kendzior or academics working outside wealthy universities in the global north – participants in or subjects of academic studies, non-academic partners in research, non-traditional online students, journalists, policy makers, public administrators, artists, high school and elementary teachers, and non-academic professionals of all variety – are locked out of scholarly databases. Often the information in those databases could bring some benefit to those who are locked out. ‘Some people argue that scholarly work has limited appeal, but this is an elitist position’, says Sarah Kendzior. ‘You never know who will benefit from your work. The only way to find out is to make it accessible’ (Tadween Editors, 2013).
One group that may know very well the benefit of reading in scholarly databases is college alumni. Most faculty would be delighted to learn that their students wanted to keep reading in the scholarly literature after they graduate, but that’s not likely. Once students graduate and leave academia, they no longer have access to the literature they were exposed to and learned to read in college. Students who have paid thousands of dollars in tuition fees over several years and finally graduate are often shocked to realize that they no longer have access to library databases and other materials. Typically, if alumni have library privileges at all, they are offered access to a limited set of library-sponsored literature in their academic fields. More likely, alumni are barred, like most others who must either pay to download academic articles or come up with some work-around to get past restricted access to an academic library. Although state and city public libraries offer some limited sets of popular press and scholarly journals to card-holding users, those journal packages provide significantly fewer resources than a typical academic library does. The legacy model of publishing does not, in this very real way, encourage lifelong learning.
Five academic publishers – Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, Sage – account for the majority of all the scholarly articles published globally, including some 70% of social sciences articles (Larivière et al, 2015). That’s a dramatic increase from the 1970s, when those five publishers accounted for only about 10% of all scholarly articles. Since that time, mergers and acquisitions have led to an oligopoly of academic publishing.
Profit margins for these commercial publishers have grown steadily since the early 1990s. In 2011, the journal publishing divisions of Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley reported profits equal to 36%, 33.9%, and 42% respectively (Bergstrom et al, 2014). Astute observers at Cultural Anthropology note that academic publishers’ profits were higher than those in several other industries in 2014, including oil (Exxon Mobil has a net profit margin of 7.31%), diamonds and minerals (Rio Tinto’s profit margin is 13.69%), and even banking (JP Morgan Chase claims profits of only 24.57%). They conclude wryly: ‘Volunteered academic labor, it turns out, is a far more lucrative platform for profit accumulation than fossil fuels, mineral resources, and international finance’ (Jiménez et al, 2015).
Increasingly, these rising profits are driven by a pricing strategy called ‘the big deal’. Like cable television providers who bundle premium channels with less popular channels to increase sales and profits, publishers and their distributors sell packaged journal subscriptions to libraries. The ‘big deals’ mean that college and university libraries spend more than they want on huge packages of journal titles that include duplicates of what they already license from other vendors, and more minor titles representing more fields than they usually need from any vendor, in order to acquire the mainstay journals they need to support their students and faculty.
Some legal scholars argue that these practices may violate international antitrust laws (Edlin and Rubinfeld, 2004). This raises an interesting point. If reasonable people can agree that the legacy model of publishing is an oligopoly (a market structure in which a few firms dominate), then an equally reasonable question might be what distinguishes academic publishing from a cartel (a form of oligopoly in which members collude to fix prices and production)? Whether or not the legacy scholarly publishing system meets the legal definition of a cartel, the legacy model of scholarly publishing – with its large profits for commercial publishers – has created a cost crisis for college and university libraries.
Librarians have occasionally resisted the rising costs of scholarly journals and the duplicative, unnecessary purchases imposed on them by canceling certain of the ‘big deal’ packages. This generates alarm among students, faculty, and administrators, who develop familiarity with the interfaces that the publishers and distributors provide for online journal users. ‘I need the EBSCO databases like I need air or water!’ said one panicked Louisiana State University graduate student when she learned that one of her library’s resources containing approximately 63,000 full-text electronic resources was threatened by rising subscription costs and declining budgets (Scudellari, 2010).
For the big five commercial publishers, the move to digital publication has not translated into real openness but into increased profits at the expense of what university libraries can afford to offer their constituents. This has created a serials crisis – a crisis driven not by the rising costs of publishing, but rather by the drive for profit by academic publishers. The switch to digital formats from print actually lowers distribution costs. Yet, as more and more academic journals have migrated to digital formats, publishers have dramatically raised subscription costs, and reduced flexibility and efficiency in journal distribution. In fact, prices for library journal subscriptions have risen at significantly greater rates than have indexes of consumer prices. North American research libraries’ expenditures on journals increased 402% between 1986 and 2011 (Kryllidou et al, 2012); the average yearly cost for a library to subscribe to an academic journal in 2015 was over $1,933 (Bosch and Henderson, 2015). In the UK, journal expenditures account for over 65% of library budgets (The Economist, 2011). Journal costs in the science, technology, and medical fields increased most dramatically, but humanities and social sciences literature also consumed an increasingly greater portion of library budgets.
It seems counterintuitive. The costs of digital production are down (after initial outlay), but subscription prices are up. One factor to consider in that problematic trend is that publishers set prices in a market with reliable demand for singular, unique products. As academics have come to rely on the always available access to a current selection of core scholarly journals, commercial publishers may see an opportunity to profit and to proliferate subscriptions with ‘big deal’ package pricing structures. Purchase of only the top thirty journals in a field, for example, may be offered at a price comparable to a package that contains those thirty core titles, plus one thousand other less prestigious, but nonetheless potentially interesting journal titles. A la carte subscriptions to core journal titles are often discouraged or even disallowed, as publishers tend to market bundles of journals in most subject areas. According to analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, there is ‘ample evidence that large publishers practice price discrimination and that they have been able to set prices well above average costs’ (Bergstrom et al, 2014).
Periodical literature is the lifeblood of research scholarship (‘like air or water’), so it is difficult for universities to resist paying publishers what they demand for key titles that academics rely upon. Staggering increases in subscription costs have coincided with, in some cases, equally staggering decreases in public funding for colleges and universities, and for their library collection budgets.
Resistance to the ‘big deal’ journal package subscriptions sometimes involves large-scale journal and database cancellations by college and university libraries. More often, it takes the form of scaled back or ‘title-by-title’ selective purchasing in a rejection of publishers’ ‘big deal’ packages. Most academic libraries cannot afford to provide access to the fullest complement of a growing body of academic journal literature packaged in the ‘big deal’, and it is the cancellations, not the more pervasive failures of libraries to acquire the full range of academic titles, that grab headlines and academic attention. For instance, in 2010 New Mexico State University library announced the cancelation of more than 700 journal and database subscriptions; the University of California at San Francisco canceled 118 print and 115 online subscriptions; and the University of Washington announced cuts of 1,600 print and electronic journals (Scudellari, 2010). While librarians make adjustments to serials budgets all the time, the serials crisis causes concern for academic researchers. ‘With a diminished library, you have a diminished university. It’s that simple’, says Robert Buckingham, Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan (Scudellari, 2010).
It is not only the publicly funded institutions that are scaling back their journal subscriptions. Socially and fiscally responsible administrators at richly endowed Harvard University critique academic journal publishers for creating an untenable situation that is ‘fiscally unsustainable’ (Sample, 2012). Wealthy universities, too, as well as the lesser-funded public institutions are well invested in resisting publishers’ rising costs and forging new models for scholarly communication.
It was a response to the serials crisis that jump-started the open access movement in the 1990s, spearheaded by academic library leaders (Oakerson and O’Donnell, 1995; Case, 1999; Shulenburger, 1999). In 1998, the Association of Research Libraries developed the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) to hasten the shift from the commercially based legacy system to open access that distributes publishing costs (not profits) equitably and efficiently among academic institutions, societies, funders, and publishers. SPARC is now ‘a global coalition committed to making open the default for research and education’, with over 800 member institutions in North America, Europe, Japan, China, and Australia.1
While it is not yet clear which models of open access scholarship will map to which disciplines on which sectors of the globe, it is increasingly clear that our legacy system of scholarly publishing – with its hyperinflating costs and its closed, inequitable, profit-driven patterns of distribution – is incompatible with the goals of its authors, universities, and scholarly societies, all of whom favor distributing academic work as widely as possible.
In 2012, Tim Gowers, a University of Cambridge mathematician frustrated by paywalls preventing intellectual access, wrote a blog post declaring that he would no longer submit to or review papers for any academic journal published by Elsevier (Gowers, 2012). Shortly afterward, one of Gowers’ readers set up The Cost of Knowledge (an online petition where academics signed on to a similar declaration of non-support for Elsevier, with over 16,000 signatories as of this writing) (Neylon, 2012). Gowers’ blog post, and the people who stand with him, were part of the movement known as the ‘Academic Spring’ of 2012, named after the Arab Spring movement that took off in 2011. Debates that escalated during the Academic Spring continue to shape thinking about the role of commercial interests in higher education (Jha, 2012). For instance, in 2015, Dutch universities threatened an all-out national boycott of Elsevier for its pricing practices (Kingsley and Harnad, 2015). But profiteering commercial publishers are not alone in creating this crisis; scholarly societies and associations shoulder some of the responsibility here, too.
Scholarly societies and associations
Scholarly societies and associations have come to rely heavily on the financial return provided to them by commercial publishers. Every discipline – from the Association of Art Historians to the International Society of Zoological Sciences – has at least one professional organization (sometimes more), to which scholars pay a membership fee. When scholars pay their membership dues, they gain access to the society’s journals (typically behind paywalls) and often, they also gain a discounted admission fee to society-sponsored conferences.
Scholarly societies, like many institutions in the landscape of higher education, have been hit hard by austerity budgets, if somewhat indirectly. While universities once often covered association membership fees for faculty, it is no longer common practice. Today, membership fees generally come out of personal, household budgets rather than institutional budgets. As fewer scholars enter the ranks of the tenured or tenure track, there are simply fewer fully employed faculty with the kind of personal budgets that allow for association membership fees. For these reasons and others, membership in scholarly societies is on the decline at the same time as societies face rising costs (Fitzpatrick, 2012).
In this breach, scholarly societies have welcomed the expanding role of commercial entities – publishers and content providers such as JSTOR, Project Muse, ProQuest, and others – to manage the production and distribution of scholarly work. Publishers and content providers strike deals with the struggling associations to share in the profits from the production or distribution of the discipline’s journals. Thus, the interests of scholarly societies become aligned with those of their scholarly production outsourcers – Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, and Sage. Most associations and societies adhere closely to the standard contracts with commercial publishers for the revenue it generates for them, and the labor and expertise it spares them. Some academics fear that sticking to these production and distribution patterns may destroy the associations (Best, 2015). Others worry that any change to the legacy model of publishing, and societies’ stake in it, will have dreadful consequences. Open access and elimination of a library-funded subscription revenue stream may exacerbate the financial distress that publishers fear, and thereby threaten to destabilize many of their partner societies (Shieber, 2013). But lost in this calculation is the societies’ primary goal of sharing scholarly work as widely and as publicly as possible, because the associations’ perceived economic interests militate against it.
While publishers’ profit-making in scholarly communication must decidedly evolve or decline, open access need not spell the end of scholarly societies. According to an analysis of the tax returns for 20 scholarly associations in the US, a switch to open access would actually help their bottom line. This study suggested that societies could make up the loss of a revenue stream sacrificed for an open access model through cost savings and other revenue sources. At the same time, associations implementing open access would better serve their membership by increasing readership (Willinsky, 2004). Digital technologies provide lower barriers to publishing and to open access distribution, but societies remain hesitant to publish and to distribute journals without engaging outside entities to manage it. The labor required to shift established journals to open access models is significant, and open access does not come without start-up, infrastructure, and maintenance costs.
However, a number of editorial boards have resigned in ‘journal declarations of independence’ from working with commercial publishers, in order to pursue publication with less restrictive access policies (OA Community, 2016). Many of these declarations are made in direct protest against the commercial publishers. For instance, in 2015 the entire editorial staff at Lingua, a leading journal in linguistics, resigned in protest over Elsevier’s policies and decided to launch their own, open access version of the journal (Moody, 2015; see also www.wired.co.uk/article/elsevier-versus-open-access, but note the point of clarification at the bottom of the page). Anne-Marie Tessler, a professor of linguistics and one of the editors who resigned from Lingua, explained what it was like trying to get fellow academics to review for a journal published by Elsevier:
You reach out to people and say, “Can you review this paper for Lingua?” Increasingly people said, “Honestly, I’m not willing to review for Lingua or submit work there anymore because I don’t think it’s reasonable to support a model where the research winds up so monetized”. (Samson, 2015)
But it was really the desire to move the journal to a fully (gold) open access model that created the impasse. Under their contract, the only way for articles to be openly available was for authors to pay a fee. Tessler explained it this way:
… [the] Elsevier model is that if you, as an author, want your specific article to be open access then you or someone backing you – an institution or a granting agency – has to pony up €1,800. For one article! It’s really beyond the means of almost any individual author. (Samson, 2015)
Tessler also mentioned that several people reported that because of the high subscription costs, their institutions were no longer going to be able to subscribe to Lingua. That means, Tessler says, ‘we’ve lost the plot. This is no longer a viable method for research dissemination if we have to bargain as to which of the journals we’re going to be able to subscribe to’ (Samson, 2015). The larger point, that this is ‘no longer a viable method of research dissemination’, is true not only for individual journals such as Lingua, but also for entire fields of scholarship.
‘We must stop arguing for or against OA in terms of the difference it makes as a publishing rationale for this or that journal’, contend the editors of Cultural Anthropology, the recently launched open access journal of the American Anthropological Association (Jiménez et al, 2015). ‘There is more at stake than the long-term sustainability of any one individual publication. If there is one thing clear at this stage, it is that OA demands a collective and inventive redefinition of the ecology of scholarly publishing’, they argue.
These editors note that anthropology owns its own journals as a ‘common property resource’, unlike many social science and humanities disciplines where the most prestigious journal titles have become the property of commercial publishers. This position allows anthropology to collectively ‘redefine the future of scholarly publishing’ (Jiménez et al, 2015). Thinking collectively about scholarly publishing shifts our focus from the viability of any one journal to reconsidering the taken-for-granted relationships among scholarly associations, their members, and commercial publishers.
Legacy models of scholarly publishing – with hyperinflating costs and closed and inequitable patterns of distribution – serve the interests of publishers and content providers distributing to libraries for high subscription prices more keenly than the interests of globally networked scholars (Stewart, 2015).
Scholarly books and monographs
The legacy model of academic book publishing operates in a different, but not entirely distinct, ecosystem from that of journal publishing. University presses and small independent presses were created in the 19th century, when people recognized that scholarly work would languish if left to the vagaries of the market (Abel et al, 2002). From the perspective of commercial publishers at that time, the potential audience for most academic work was too small, and hence the costs to publishers too high, to turn a profit. However, even among commercial publishers, there was a recognition that knowledge would be lost if the marketplace were the only arbiter for academic publication. ‘What is accomplished if the work of a lifetime grows moldy in the drawer of a desk?’ asked Charles Scribner, a commercial publisher and a founder of Princeton University Press (Hawes, 1967, p. 35). Innovators in the 19th century proposed that the university should take on the job of publication itself (Abel et al, 2002). So, university presses were formed to support the university in disseminating the knowledge it was charged with creating.
University presses often also publish scholarly journals. As of 2002, there were 92 university presses in the United States and Canada (Abel et al, 2002). Among them they publish approximately 11,000 books each year, and over 700 peer-reviewed journals. Traditionally, scholars in the humanities and social sciences have relied on university presses to publish their books and monographs intended for small audiences of other experts. University presses have been long pressured to operate under a cost recovery model. The most recent recession and deeper austerity have cut editorial staff, decreased the acquisition of new titles, and in some cases forced presses to merge with university libraries. The range of traditional publishing options diminishes at the same time as the array of digital publishing opportunities expands.
Textbook authoring is one of the few arenas of the legacy model of scholarship that pays. A textbook that is widely adopted can provide academic authors with a very handsome income from royalties. While this system works for successful textbook authors, it works against their students. The benefits that authors derive are directly and literally at the expense of their undergraduate readers. Many students simply don’t buy required books because they cannot afford them. One researcher found that 65% of students opted against buying textbooks because they were too costly (Grasgreen, 2014). Of those, 94% were concerned that their grades would suffer because of it.
The price of textbooks has risen 812% since 1978, with the average price of a textbook settling somewhere around $68 in 2012 (Otani, 2015). The College Board in 2015-16 advised students attending US public two-year institutions to budget a whopping $1,364 for books and supplies (College Board, 2016). Learning and education are not promoted by high textbook costs.
Digital scholarship and many paths to open access
Digital scholarship, in which opening, moving, remixing, sharing, and circulating information are core practices, offers many paths to open access. Innovation in digital scholarship has already demonstrated that there is an audience for the work that academics create.
‘What we’re seeing is that the general public wants to read scholarly papers’, says Richard Price, founder of Academia.edu, an Internet start-up that describes itself as a ‘platform for academics to share research papers’ (McKenna, 2015). This company has come under fire from academics around the question, as Kathleen Fitzpatrick put it, of ‘What will become of their work in the long term?’ Her concern is that a start-up, funded by venture capital (as Academia.edu is), will eventually find a way to show a profit. To do that, they may monetize the content on their site or sell user-generated data from it. That is, they will have to use the academic work posted there in ways that the authors of that work never intended. Fitzpatrick also finds it problematic that this for-profit company uses the ‘.edu’ domain name, potentially confusing users. Open access is ‘good for the public and good for the researchers’, Fitzpatrick says, but she believes that a commercial platform like Academia.edu is the wrong place for academics to share their work (Fitzpatrick, 2015). But this controversy leaves many academics befuddled about what to do if they want to share their work openly.
Platforms like Academia.edu do not solve the problems with the broader ecology of the legacy model of scholarly publishing. Academics continue to be under-informed about how open access and self-archiving work. In 2014, Elsevier sent Academia.edu users hundreds of take-down notices, alerting unaware authors who had published with Elsevier that they were violating their publishing agreements by posting their articles on the site. In fact, scholars often do violate copyright agreements with their publishers when they share work on the site as well as on others. For now, Elsevier has stopped demanding that authors who post their work at Academia.edu in violation of Elsevier contracts take the work down. But confusion persists for many academics, both about what their individual obligations to publishers are and about the general open access terrain. To understand both the restrictions on one’s own scholarly work and the current landscape of scholarly publishing, it is important to understand the difference between two going models of open access: ‘gold open access’ and ‘green open access’, and the ‘hybrid’ publishing models with qualities of both legacy publishing and open access.
Gold open access: perpetually open for non-paying readers
Gold open access journals are those that publish exclusively without subscription or reader charges, producing peer-reviewed articles that are perpetually open for non-paying readers from the moment of publication. While the journals from several successful gold open access journal portals – including Brazil’s SciELO,2 Mexico’s Readalyc,3 and African Journals Online4 – do not require authors to finance publication of their research, the majority of gold open access journals based in the global North require authors (or most often their funding agencies) to pay publishing charges to support the journals.
Author publishing charges (APCs) vary widely by discipline and by publisher. The more prominent science, technology, and math journals charge APCs that shock those in the less well-funded social sciences and humanities. For example, perhaps the most well-known open access journals, the Public Library of Science (PLoS) series, charges authors between $1,350 and $2,900 per article. Springer BioMed Central requires fees of between $735 and $2,605.5
The author-funded gold open access model of scholarly publishing has the unintended consequence of generating opportunities for deceptive practices. Scammers, posing as reputable academic journal editors, have been successful in soliciting articles for bogus journals and conferences in order to pocket fees without offering anything in return. Unsuspecting authors may be taken in by increasingly sophisticated calls to publish papers in open access journals, only to find that the payment resulted in nothing that resembles the practice of scholarly publishing. That is, scholarly peers do not review the paper and it is neither substantively edited nor copyedited. Or, a potential author may find that upon payment of a hefty fee, an article fails to appear in any form whatsoever. Clearly, it is possible for unscrupulous actors other than commercial publishers to profit from APCs that are standard operating procedure under the gold open access model.
To counter this offense, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), the foremost index of reputable peer review open access journals (see Box 4.1), moved in 2015 to expand its description of open access journal features to identify deceptive publishers or to eliminate them from its listing. DOAJ provides a set of quality and functional standards for gold open access journal producers (DOAJ, 2015). Still, academic authors must remain vigilant about the risk of being separated from their money in an APC scam, just as we watch for unscrupulous ‘vanity’ publishers who seek to profit from print-based scholarship without providing adequate review or distribution.
Commercial journal publishers – Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, Taylor & Francis and Sage – have each developed ‘hybrid’ publishing options that offer readers open access in subscription-based journals, supported by APCs. The hybrid models preserve and even increase publisher revenue, while doing little to shift the landscape of scholarly publishing to one that is open, affordable, and accessible. The way it works is as follows: authors publish in a traditional journal (that libraries pay publishers to subscribe to), but they can opt to pay an extra fee (averaging between $3,000 and $5,000) for an article to be made available immediately as gold open access (Larivière et al, 2015). In some instances, ‘immediate gold open access’ is required by a funding mandate. For example, funding organizations such as the Wellcome Trust in the UK, the National Institutes of Health in the US, the Canadian Institute of Health, and the European Research Council require research to be available upon publication. In such circumstances, authors must select their publishers with these parameters in mind.
In other instances, researchers are under no such mandate. After a waiting period (called an ‘embargo’), publishers and/or funders often make an article openly available through a public platform, such as PubMed. Authors often need do nothing, and pay no APC, for the work to eventually become open access; publishers do the posting for the authors when their embargo period expires. However, author uncertainty about these processes can pose an opportunity for scammers to collect false APCs. This nearly happened to me (Daniels), when I received an email from what I thought was a professional association (the American Public Health Association), asking me if I wanted to make an article I had published with a traditional publisher ‘open access’ for a mere $3,000. The article had been published for a year in the association’s leading journal, American Journal of Public Health, and it was already available through PubMed.6
With APCs now commonplace and accepted by funders and authors alike, commercial publishers of open access content have not significantly shifted their legacy journal publishing business model. Publishers continue to thrive at the expense of the academic authors, reviewers, readers and their libraries, who spend at an increasing collective rate to not only protect but also actually to increase publisher profits. Springer bought BioMed Central in 2008, and by 2015 Springer had become the largest open access publisher of academic work. These efforts to encourage open access risk further concentrating the control of academic publishing within a few powerful institutions (Brienza, 2015). While the gold open access model that relies on charging authors currently functions for well-funded science, technology, and math scholars in the global North, it is not workable for the humanities and social sciences, and just about any underfunded scholar, including many in the global South.
This move toward the ‘default’ open position for scholarship also means that research conducted by, and data conducted about, oppressed peoples and communities might be compelled by funding agencies to open to public readership. Data and scholarship open to scrutiny and reuse by audiences hostile to, or untrained in, analysis may be applied to support narratives and analysis counter to those forwarded by the producers.
Open scholarship does not necessarily lead a steady march toward one truth or vision. Open scholarship, and the debate about it, bears the certainty of messy understandings, confusion, conflict, misappropriation, and tangential focus. But, it is only in this open sphere that scholarship has any power and potential at all to engage debate and to shift understandings. Open scholarship can generate counter-narrative, but only open scholarship can re-engage that counter-narrative as well. Open scholarship assumes a faith in the power of rationality.
Green open access: pre-print, do it yourself, self-archiving
‘Green open access’ is author self-archiving, and it is available now. It requires more work from an individual author, but no author charges are imposed. Green open access allows authors to post a version of their article on their own website or an institutional repository, or even on a commercial platform. This is called ‘self-archiving’, because the author takes action to archive the paper. Self-archived works are discoverable in varying degrees by Internet search engines and freely accessible to any reader on the web. These works can be downloaded by readers without encountering a paywall.
The ‘pre-print’ version of the article, the version that publishers commonly allow authors to self-archive, is typically the last revision that the researcher sent to the publisher before it is printed in the journal.7 Some journals allow publication in a traditional journal with self-archiving at the same time. Other journals require an embargo period of 6 to 18 months between the time an article is published in a journal and the time publishers permit it to be self-archived. During the embargo period, the publisher is the exclusive distributor of the work. Once the publisher’s embargo period is reached, researchers may deposit a copy of their work with an open access institutional repository, a subject-based repository, or a personal web page.
Embargoes are often levied in combination with further conditions that the author not openly archive the peer-reviewed or the publisher’s final version of an article, but instead the author must post a pdf version of the article derived from the author’s files. Other publishers do the opposite, and stipulate, for example, that a self-archived article must retain the journal publisher’s format. Some publishers ask that final works reflecting the peer review and editing they direct not be shared with open access readers; only the pre-prints or non-peer review versions of a published work are authorized by these publishers to be publicly archived. It is also the case that publishers rarely record the revisions of an article as it approaches publication, and the collaborative nature of the process makes it difficult to differentiate among reviewer directed revisions and author-determined revisions. Authors often claim the final revised versions as their own without ruffling publisher feathers. Publishers who quibble may issue take-down notices, as Elsevier did with self-archived work on the Academia.edu platform.
Green open access allows authors greater flexibility about where to publish, and it maintains publishers’ positions as sole distributors of new academic work. With this, it preserves incentives for libraries to continue to subscribe to academic journals. Green open access preserves publishers’ legacy roles as exclusive distributors of current content, while shifting the archiving responsibilities to authors and to institutional repositories, which are often university libraries. Like gold open access, green open access does not immediately challenge publisher profits or the legacy model of journal publishing, but it promotes an evolution toward open access platforms. Green open access also engages a shift toward self-conscious archival practice on the part of authors to preserve scholarship and to keep it freely and widely available in present and future digital contexts.
Publishers have responded to green open access initiatives with a variety of terms and conditions for self-archiving, mostly designed to shore up publishers’ exclusive right to distribute new research. Some publishers have lengthened embargoes as green open access archiving has gained steam. Funders influence the length of time publishers may embargo research from public access by mandating public access for the research they fund within specific periods of time.
As of this writing, green open access is accepted by a majority of journals and their publishers. Of 2,175 leading academic journal publishers around the world, 78% formally permit authors to self-archive their work as a matter of standing policy (SHERPA/RoMEO, 2016). Of the 22% of publishers lacking formal support for green open access, some explicitly comply with author-initiated requests to self-archive by revising publishing contracts, and still others will not explicitly object nor issue take-down notices when authors post their own archival work on the open web.
Authors can usually find the specifics of a publisher’s self-archiving policies in the agreements they sign for publication. But these documents are dense, and eyes understandably glaze over at the ‘tl/dr’ (too long, didn’t read) nature of these contracts. The SHERPA/RoMEO toolset offers an alternative to this tedium (see Box 4.2). Here, anyone can type in the title of a journal and immediately find a clear, easy-to-understand description of that publication’s self-archiving – or green open access – policies.
While green open access allows motivated scholars to make their work available to global publics immediately and comprehensively, it is a less than perfect fix for the wide-ranging change that our scholarly publishing system requires. Its reliance on individual scholars to place their own work in an online archive in combination with rules that publishers impose is an impediment to the widest possible distribution of research.
Our discussion thus far has centered on journal literature, in part because this is where the greatest crisis in scholarly publishing lies, and because this is where most of the advocacy around open access has been focused. The rise in digital scholarship has also begun to shift the discussion of publishing scholarly books.
The Open Access Network: a viable model for change
How do we move from a legacy system of scholarly publishing to one that is open, scalable, and sustainable? On the one hand, many universities and their libraries now support institutional repositories where pre-prints can be deposited for green open access, as well as home-grown open journal publishing programs. On the other hand, publishers affiliated with some scholarly societies and university presses are promoting gold open access options for their journals and books. But these open funding models have not yet changed the publishing landscape significantly enough to herald an all-out shift in the scholarly communications infrastructure. ‘We need a sustainable system for scholarship writ large’, writes librarian and blogger Barbara Fister (2016).
Rebecca Kennison and Lisa Norberg, co-founders of the Open Access Network (OAN), contend that professional societies, universities, and academic publishers need to realign their relationship and work together to transform the scholarly communication infrastructure (Kennison and Norberg, 2014). The model they propose takes an incremental or phased approach, opening up current forms of scholarship (for example journals, monographs), while simultaneously establishing the infrastructure necessary to build, support, and sustain new and emerging modes of communication. They focus on publications and platforms in disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, which are most at risk in the current cost-per-unit-driven open access environment.
The financial model behind the proposed OAN involves an annual or multi-year payment made by every institution of higher education, based on a sliding scale tied to the institution’s classification. In the US, that is set by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education,8 and outside the US it is the International Standard Classification of Education.9 The payment would be many factors smaller than what most institutions currently pay for journal subscriptions (K|N Consultants, 2016). But pooled together, this funding would be enough to support a robust infrastructure for scholarly publishing.
This reimagined, though still unrealized, approach embodies the kind of systemic thinking and ambition needed to make large-scale change. ‘From creation and innovation of new publishing platforms to preservation of the record,’ Kennison and Norberg’s OAN is ‘working out a map for how to build and sustain new kinds of publishing that meet the needs of all stakeholders through collaboration and a commitment to openness,’ Barbara Fister writes (Fister, 2016).
The OAN model that Kennison and Norberg proposes aims to meet the needs of a variety of stakeholders, including scholars, professional societies, universities, and academic publishers. If adopted, their proposal would realign a complex set of relationships within scholarly communication infrastructure to create and preserve the scholarly record. To be sure, our current system of scholarly communication is broken. It will take inspired, ambitious efforts such as OAN to fix it.
Open access books, monographs and textbooks
‘I didn’t write this book to make money’, reveals danah boyd (who spells her name with lower case letters), of her book, It’s complicated, about teenagers’ social lives on and off the Internet (boyd, 2014a). ‘I don’t actually care whether or not my book _sells_ a lot; I care whether or not it’s _read_ a lot’ (boyd, 2014b). What boyd says she cared most about was getting the widest possible audience for her work and ‘this desire to get as many people as engaged as possible drove every decision I made throughout this process’. One of the decisions she made was to publish with Yale University Press explicitly because of their willingness to let her put a freely downloadable copy of the book online on the day the book came out. She did just that. The day her book was published, she also posted a pdf of the entire book on her own website.
Her experience with publishing her book may be different from the traditional academic’s experience, but then that might be expected, as danah boyd is not a traditional academic. She is well regarded among those who study the Internet and works outside academia as a Principal Researcher at Microsoft. In 2014, boyd launched her own research and think tank, Data & Society, to bring attention to the way the algorithms that undergird big data affect society, and conversely, the way inequalities in society shape the algorithms that get coded. The appearance of digitally fluent, hybrid scholars, like danah boyd, who are more interested in reach and impact on a broader public than in climbing the academic career ladder, point to a different approach to being a scholar, one that is rooted in public engagement and activism. These scholars are less inclined than previous generations to publish scholarly monographs that only two hundred people will ever read.
Despite shifting priorities of scholars like boyd, book publishers still have to confront the vicissitudes of the marketplace. There is some evidence to suggest that sales of print form books can remain strong when books are available online for free (T. Anderson, 2013). One study even found an increase in print sales after release of free online versions (Hilton III and Wiley, 2010). Increasingly, book publishers are experimenting with providing online versions of texts as enticements to buy the long form in print (Eve, 2014). For her part, danah boyd says that she wanted to encourage people to buy the book, even though there was a free version available online, because ‘when people purchase the book, they signal to outside folks that the book is important’ (boyd, 2014b).
Viewing scholarly publishing through a social justice lens
‘Open Access is, perhaps above all other things, a moral and political decision’, observe Jiménez and colleagues (Jiménez et al, 2015). Clearly, one of us (Thistlethwaite) got this message from participating in ACT UP, as described at the beginning of this chapter. This idea did not become salient for me (Daniels) until much more recently.
During a live radio interview shortly after my book Cyber racism (2009) came out, a young man called in to confront me. His was not the usual angry response I tend to receive in doing such work, either from white supremacists on the far right who call me ‘libtard’ (among other names), or from those on the center-left who find my critical focus on racism upsetting to their notions of colorblindness. Instead, he was angry because I had, a few days prior to this, asked him to remove a pirated copy of my book that he had posted on his website. I believed I was doing the right thing when I contacted the blogging platform he used and reported him for hosting an unauthorized e-version of my book that anyone could download. Then, he asked me this crucial question: ‘Why are you doing this work? Don’t you want people who can least afford it to read your work?’ His question prompted me to reevaluate my relationship to copyright and whose interests it served.
After this encounter, I began to realize that my attempt to enforce my publisher’s copyright protection for the book was serving the interests of the publisher more than it was serving my own goals for the book. In an ironic twist, when I submitted my materials for tenure and promotion, the requirements stipulated that I include six copies of all my publications, including my two books. To do this, I had to go to an online commercial retailer, buy six copies of each book (approximately $450) in order to apply for a promotion at my own institution. It had never been clearer to me that I no longer owned my own work.
It was several years later, through working on JustPublics@365 (see Chapter Two), that I began to see open access as connected to other social justice issues. What was the point, I asked myself, of doing this work if no one could read it? It was the first time that I questioned what I had been told and what I understood about scholarly publishing, and I began to apply a sociological analysis to it.
The justifications and explanations for what we call the legacy model of publishing were, like those for any other ideology, meant to disguise economic interests, but once you start to pull on one thread the whole thing begins to unravel. At the same time, it was becoming more and more evident to both of us (and to many others) that digital technologies had the potential to transform scholarly communication.
Throughout the many facets of our project, we wanted to experiment with what scholarly communication could be if it were truly open and informed by social justice goals. To do this, we tried to advance open access in multiple ways, through a series of eBooks tied to the summits and through the participatory, open, online course (POOC) (see Chapters Two and Three).
Social justice series of eBooks as continuous publishing
‘Continuous publishing’, a term coined by Mark Carrigan, author of Social media for academics (2016a), is a way of thinking about knowledge creation in the digital era. ‘With this approach one’s social media presence becomes something like a public notebook, drawing together ongoing research activity in a way which invites others to respond and participate’ (Carrigan, 2016b).
When we were reimagining the academic conference as a summit that connected scholars, activists, journalists, and documentary filmmakers, we also wanted to re-envision knowledge production from academic conferences. To do this, we created a companion eBook on the same topic as each of the summits (see Chapter Two). In a way, the series of eBooks we created were an extension of Carrigan’s notion of ‘continuous publishing’. We wanted to take the social media in and around the events, as well as curated and invited content after the events, and compile them into eBooks. For us, it represented a collaborative and born-digital model of knowledge production.
The finished eBooks that we produced became open educational resources (OERs). In the contemporary lexicon of higher education, OER refers to a wide range of open access items, like the ones we included in our series and compiled into an eBook, that can be used for student learning. For faculty who want to help eliminate the student burden of textbook costs, OERs are a compelling choice. For example, the Commonwealth of Learning’s Directory of Open Educational Resources provides textbook alternatives for higher education and technical training, arranged by subject and learning level (DOER, 2016). We created the eBooks as ways to reimagine scholarly communication, knowledge creation, and activism, but they are now used in college classes as open access texts.
Our other experiment with open access was connected to our participatory, open, online course (POOC), #InQ13 (discussed in Chapter Three).
Open access course materials for community engagement
Making the readings for #InQ13 fully open to anyone on the web who wanted to participate was a primary goal of launching the course. The course was focused on a specific New York City neighborhood and was designed to engage community members. We knew we could not do that if all the readings, or really any of them, were blocked and required university logins to access. What not all of us realized at the outset is that this would require a great deal of work from a rather large and collaborative team, but one with divisions of labor and responsibility. These divisions of labor, fuzzy at first, became clearer as the course progressed. In a conventional legacy model course, one instructor selects readings to teach a small group of students. In this unique participatory course, a 20-member team was required to produce the course, with two instructors, for thousands of students, both enrolled at the Graduate Center and not enrolled, participating from geographically dispersed locations (Daniels et al, 2014). While everyone involved in the project embraced the concept of open access as a laudable goal, at the beginning none of us were experienced in the mechanics of open access discovery, identification, permission seeking, and posting.
In most courses, the instructor is the sole arbiter of course readings, but making sure all the readings for #InQ13 were open access was an elaborately collaborative process. The #InQ13 course instructors Wendy Luttrell and Caitlin Cahill provided an initial ‘wish list’ of readings in the usual way and without regard to licensing restrictions. This list, for 14 class sessions, totaled 117 articles, book chapters, websites, blogs, films, and entire books. I (Daniels), along with the production team, reviewed the syllabus. Following that and in conversation with instructors, together we found or forged open access equivalents for 47 titles, or about 40% of the traditionally licensed required readings. Librarians (Thistlethwaite and Smith-Cruz) then reviewed the remaining list to examine the licensing status of the readings and to determine what steps the team might take to obtain key readings in open access formats. Librarians reviewed journal articles and, fortunately, several authors had self-archived the pieces, so anyone in the ‘class’, meaning anyone at all, could get to them. Books and films required publisher (or other rights-holder) permissions and cooperation (Smith-Cruz et al, 2014).
Community members as copyright owners
Our librarian–author collaboration proved to be compelling to publishers. Librarians contacted book publishers, copying in authors, lecturers, and course organizers on all correspondence, about making their work open to all who wanted to participate in the course. Many authors were honored to have their work included and volunteered to contact publishers via personal correspondence. A few of the publishers we contacted (three out of 19) understood the nature of our request and responded positively to offer publications openly, for a limited period of time. Some of the other publishers we contacted responded but declined our invitation to participate; others simply never responded at all. The three academic publishers that allowed temporary open online posting for the #InQ13 course were University of California (UC) Press, New York University (NYU) Press, and University of Minnesota (UMN) Press.
UC Press posted the introduction and chapter three of Dávila’s (2004) Barrio dreams: Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and the neoliberal city; prior to our request, the press had featured the book’s introduction on its website, as a way to entice readers to buy the book. UC also posted two chapters of Pulido, Barraclough, and Cheng’s (2012) A people’s guide to Los Angeles; and chapter five of Wilson Gilmore’s (2007) Golden gulag: prisons, surplus, crisis, and opposition in globalizing California.
NYU Press provided Londono’s chapter ‘Aesthetic belonging: the Latinization & renewal of Union City, New Jersey’ from the 2012 anthology Latino urbanism: the politics of planning, policy, and redevelopment (edited by Diaz and Torres).
UMN Press offered the biggest win as measured by the amount of text pages, posting the entirety of Katz’s (2004) Growing up global: economic restructuring and children’s everyday lives in downloadable pdf format through a link on the press’s website. Publishers kept all links live from the time we reached agreement through to the end of the semester-long course.
Early in the term, #InQ13 course coordinators approached filmmaker Ed Morales about his 2008 documentary film, Whose barrio? The gentrification of East Harlem, requesting that he post it free online for the course’s second module. Morales retains the copyright for his work, and he was also a guest participant in the course. He readily complied, posting his film to be viewed free, open, and online via his own platform, which he maintains through the Internet Movie Database. Morales’ eager participation was early inspiration to organizers, who went forward to convince other authors and publishers to make their work openly available.
Another instance produced a thornier result. One course lecturer believed that she retained copyright of her forthcoming book. She assured course organizers that the publisher’s correspondence confirmed permission to post chapters on the course website. However, librarians’ end-of-course review of the email correspondence revealed a misinterpretation of the publisher’s correspondence. The publisher had in fact withheld permission to post the work. The posted chapters were removed from the temporary course repository when we discovered the error.
Yet a different book publisher responded with a course pack license agreement requesting a fee to permit 57 pages to be copied no more than 20 times. While the initial letter to the publisher had been clear about the nature of the open, online course, the author’s appearance as a guest lecturer, and the request that the material be made free to any reader on the web, the publisher either misunderstood the request or was at a loss as to how to respond. Upon clarifying this issue, the publisher was willing to negotiate a license and fee to allow online distribution of two requested chapters, but only if distribution could be limited to a specified number of students. A subsequent attempt to communicate with this publisher went unanswered.
Two tools proved essential for reviewing course readings: the Directory of Open Access Journals10 and the SHERPA/RoMEO tool11 (see Boxes 4.1 and 4.2). More than 32,000 scholarly periodicals are included in these two tools. Applying both DOAJ and SHERPA/RoMEO to the course lists, we soon discovered lots of rogue postings, scholarly articles or book chapters posted online without regard for publishers’ restrictions or the author’s wishes. We also learned that while author self-archiving is allowed by hundreds of traditional academic publishers, this option was at the time (2013) not widely exercised by authors. Through ongoing conversations with librarians and faculty involved in our project, authors inevitably became aware of, and in some cases expert in, publishers’ policies as it applied to their work. This awareness was a good step forward, but an incremental one, to be sure.
It is impossible to be a scholar in the digital age without considering open access to knowledge. Too often, scholars who have the privilege of university access forget that many others are locked out of the databases we take for granted. We may even scoff at the idea that our work might have value beyond the academy, but as Sarah Kendzior points out (Tadween Editors, 2013), this is an elitist position. We never know who might consider our work meaningful or what kind of use they might find for it.
What is exciting about the emergence of digital technologies for all kinds of scholars is that they offer the promise of openness to all kinds of knowledge. Yet the legacy model of publishing chokes this potential. While the legacy model of publishing offers scholars a reliable form of credentialing, it is broken in many other ways. For readers outside the academy, paywalls make it almost impossible to engage with scholarly writing, should they want to do so. The serials crisis is choking library budgets and textbooks are so expensive that many students cannot afford to buy them. Yet, the legacy model of publishing works quite well for the big five commercial publishers. It also works to the benefit of some scholarly societies and associations, at least for now. But this broken system is beginning to fray at the edges as scholars begin to question its legitimacy.
Forward-thinking scholars, such as the editorial board of Lingua who resigned en masse and are starting a new, fully open access journal, are charting new paths to open access. Similarly, the principled editors of Cultural Anthropology are not only creating their own open access journal, but they are also pushing their scholarly association, the American Anthropological Association, to do more to rethink what they call ‘the ecology of scholarly publishing’ (Jiménez et al, 2015).
In our own experiment, we tried to further open access in several ways. We created social justice eBooks as open access companion artifacts to summits, as a form of ‘continuous publishing’ and as a way of extending and deepening the connections we enabled there. These had the unintended consequence of also being open educational resources. We also worked diligently to make all the readings in the #InQ13 course fully open for anyone who wanted to read them. Small, incremental steps, to be sure, but these are valuable for the possibilities that they suggest. Being a scholar in the digital era is an opportunity to imagine all that we could do if our scholarship were open and connected.
We began this chapter with the proposition that opening up knowledge matters. When we open the usual channels in which knowledge is created, we make collaborations possible. When we open education and link it to communities, we can learn from and strengthen the communities where our colleges and universities are located. When we create structures that make knowledge open to all, we encourage both democracy and innovation. This is a more just world than smuggling people into libraries to be able to read the latest medical research. It is partial answer to the question: Why are you doing this work?
The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) (http://doaj.org), a list of and review mechanism for peer-reviewed OA journals, can help authors sort out whether or not a journal is a legitimate publisher of scholarly work or an exploitative venture. DOAJ’s growth parallels the growth of gold OA journal publishing. Launched at Lund University, Sweden, in 2003 with 300 journals, in 2015 the DOAJ lists more than 10,000 OA journal titles. DOAJ is fueled by a small central staff and a host of volunteers and funded by voluntary membership and donation. Library content aggregators, such as ProQuest’s Serial Solutions, Summon, and Primo, link from library abstracts to full text OA using metadata harvested from DOAJ. This means library article databases link to OA journal articles, and not only to subscription-based journals. In 2014 DOAJ introduced an expanded application form and review process to produce improved quality markers. These include, for example, the presence of a journal’s article-level metadata, a journal’s alignment with funder-mandated requirements, Creative Commons licensing policies, and the presence and level of APCs. These developments will expand DOAJ’s scope significantly and increase its value to authors, publishers, and researchers.
SHERPA/RoMEO (www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/index.php) is a searchable database of publishers’ general policies on journal article self-archiving. It provides a standardized, verified representation of the standing policies of over 22,000 peer-reviewed journals. Funded initially by the Wellcome Trust, and currently by JISC, and hosted by the University of Nottingham in the UK, RoMEO staff comb publishers’ copyright agreements and online open access policies. They correspond with publishers to aggregate, standardize, and translate journal self-archiving policies into easy-to-understand, color-coded categories to facilitate comparison of journal self-archiving policies. RoMEO is indispensible to green OA projects, facilitating compliance and collaboration among contributing authors, publishers, and repository managers.
1 See sparcopen.org
5 Springer BioMed Central currently points to their gold OA journal APCs from www.biomedcentral.com/publishing-services/publication-costs-and-funding
6 I wrote to the president of the association, telling him that this was a questionable practice. He promised to look into it and get back to me. I am still waiting for a reply.
7 SHERPA/RoMEO can clarify which version of authors’ works publishers allow to be self-archived.