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Open Access: Scholarly Communications

OA General Resources

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What's an ORCID identifier?

ORCID stands for "Open Researcher and Contributor ID." Researchers can sign up for an ORCID unique persistent personal identifier which enables name disambiguation and tracking of their scholarly production across name or institution changes. At the ORCID website you can get more information about the initiative. Researchers with very common names, or who have changed their name over the course of their scholarly career, have a clear incentive to register; increasing numbers of publishers and granting agencies are encouraging use of ORCID identifiers as well. This list of  10 things you need to know about ORCID sums up the advantages of using an ORCID iD.

Open Access for Scholarly Publications

The definition of Open Access for scholarly communications provided by SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is "the free, immediate, online availability of research articles combined with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment." Free, immediate, online availability to read articles is pretty self-explanatory; the right to use the articles in the digital environment might include text or data mining from the articles, or establishing different kinds of networks between them, to help researchers better understand research contexts. This kind of Open Access also has the descriptor of libre open access. In contrast, Public Access refers to free and immediate online availability of research articles without the same rights to digital use; Public Access is also sometimes called gratis open access.

A few important motivating factors for the Open Access movement include the extremely high costs of many scholarly journal subscriptions, and the fact that most scientific scholarly research produced in university settings is funded with government grants. If the public is paying for the production of research knowledge, it should also have access to those research results. A growing number of granting agencies, both governmental and non-governmental, are now requiring that research publications be made publicly available to read and download. For example, the NIH Public Access Policy requires that researchers deposit the final peer-reviewed version of grant-supported publications in PubMed Central. (Update: 2023 NIH guidelines for data sharing and management.) The NSF Public Access Policy requires researchers to deposit the version of record or final peer-reviewed version of grant-supported publications in the NSF Public Access Repository no later than 12 months after publication. The 2022 OSTP memo has updated policy guidance for US federal agencies with respect to public access to federally funded research.

Peter Suber has defined several different kinds of open access (OA). In Green OA, an article might be published in a non-OA journal (one that charges for access to the article), but the researcher can still make the article available online via a personal website or a library or disciplinary repository. Often the journal places some restrictions on what format the Green OA version can take -- usually it cannot be a pdf of the final journal article, but must be the researcher's final draft. See the OA Resources box to the right for more information on understanding journal requirements.  In Gold OA, an article is published in a journal that will make the final version of the article available for free, but usually charges the researcher a publication fee for doing so (although there are some alternative models where journals are funded by scholarly societies or academic consortia). The fees for Gold OA can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the journal. Suber's book on Open Access summarizes these and other relevant issues. Since Suber coined the terms for Green and Gold OA, other types have emerged with new descriptors. Diamond or Platinum OA refers to an article that is published in a journal that makes the final published version available for free but does not charge the researcher a fee for doing so; such journals rely on other sources of funding.

The ARMINDA institutional repository is an option for Green OA at Whitman College. Contact ARMINDA administrators to learn more.

PhD Comics: Open Access Explained

OA Infographics

Click here for an infographic from 2013 by Randall Munroe (of xkcd fame) about scientific publishing and open access.

Click here for a timeline of significant events in the Open Access movement. These include the Budapest (February 2002), Bethesda (June 2003), and Berlin (October 2003) Open Access Initiatives, the NIH Data Sharing Agreement, and the White House OSTP Memo.

OA Resources

Interested in making an article you will publish Open Access?

If you need to comply with Open Access requirements for a grant, the companion RoMEO and JULIET databases can help you understand requirements. The OpenDOAR directory can help you find open access repositories.

To research the reputation of open access journals, check Beall's List (the Scholarly Open Access blog) to see potential, possible, or probably predatory OA publishers and journals. The DOAJ lists journals that have undergone some form of vetting, but inclusion in the DOAJ does not necessarily mean that a journal is not predatory, or that it publishes high-quality scholarship. See the Criteria for Determining Predatory OA Publishers or the Think Check Submit website for a checklist of characteristics to avoid in a publisher. Consider consulting with a librarian, who may have additional suggestions for vetting publishers.

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