Comment On … Open Access
Column Editor: Elizabeth Lightfoot
(Electronic Resources Librarian, Florida International University)
Manager, Account Development and Strategic Alliances
Springer Science+Business Media
Seven of the top twenty Springer journals in the most recent impact factor report are open access titles from BioMed Central. An eighth is an open access SCOAP3 title — Journal of High Energy Physics. For any of those who have reserved judgment on open access journals and perhaps doubted the value of time spent curating such content, your wait is over. If libraries ignore or are less than deliberate about providing a discovery environment to users that includes high quality open access content, they are missing a real opportunity. To accomplish the pivot that libraries have long awaited in journal publishing, it will be necessary for libraries to universally curate these resources to build up usage and the arguments for infrastructural support of open access publishing. This is not to say that selection among open access offerings is not necessary. Selection is necessary to build quality. Selection will be made easier if there is cooperation by both publishers and discovery service providers to make sure libraries have an easy way to integrate selected open access journals into their indexing and resolution services. Google and Google Scholar may be important finding tools for journal content, but after a year of providing Web analytics to academic libraries, it is becoming increasingly clear that library maintained Web-scale discovery systems are moving up the referrers list and taking on increasing percentages of the traffic that finds its way to our platform. So curate the best OA content. Help make the journal model shift happen.
Head, Collection Strategies & Assessment
Florida International University Libraries
The option to publish an article as open access can be daunting to faculty when combined with the requirement to pay article processing fees, which can be quite hefty. To assist faculty in making their research more readily available, we have joined the ranks of libraries/institutions which offer an Open Access Publishing Fund to help offset associated costs. But the management of this fund comes with its own challenges. We pay invoices at the article level, not the journal level. We have an approval process which often involves dividing invoices so we only subsidize our affiliated faculty. Invoices undergo a hand-off from faculty member to the OA librarian to Acquisitions to Purchasing. Article processing fees often originate from a different publishing division from our standard journal invoices, which in turn leads to required paperwork to add the division as a new vendor in our payment systems. We want to support open access, but we need an easier way to manage the workflow and invoicing for these article-level transactions if they are to become commonplace. Most publishers offer an institutional deposit account option, but such automated payments could undermine local guidelines for OA Publishing Fund payments; not to mention you would need multiple deposit accounts to allow flexibility in publishing venues. The Copyright Clearance Center has recently released the availability to run article processing charges through RightsLink, and several publishers are now using this service as an intermediary. Time will tell whether we’re able to sufficiently untangle the open access process and make it manageable to all parties involved.
Collection Development Librarian
Portland State University
To be honest, Portland State University Library isn’t doing much with open access. Portland State has added DOAJ and DOAB to the catalog and also supported Knowledge Unlatched but beyond these initiatives, we have not started processing APCs or underwriting OA publication in any major way. However, it is my job as an academic librarian, who is leading my institution in determining what is paid for content, to understand and have the best comprehension of the “total cost of publication” for the content purchased on behalf of students and faculty. “The ‘Total cost of publication (TCP)’ consists of article processing charges for either individual journal articles or as part of a bulk pre-payment scheme, subscriptions for either individual journals or packages, and the additional administrative costs for managing APCs.” (See Pinfield, S., Salter, J. and Bath, P.A. (2015) – The ‘total cost of publication’ in a hybrid open-access environment: Institutional approaches to funding journal article processing charges in combination with subscriptions. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology) Publisher representatives will tell acquisitions and collection development librarians in the U.S. that the total OA produced by them via hybrid journals is 1-2%. This may be true in the U.S. but in Europe and in the UK, these amounts are higher and range more around 10%. As academic librarians, we need to begin the conversations now of reaching a new price point for the journal content we purchase. The market is changing rapidly, and it does not make sense for our institutions to be paying both APC costs, covering the inherent management costs of APCs, and paying subscriptions for the same content.
Senior Director of Licensing & Strategic Partnerships
Are you beginning to hear the roar of the scholarly monograph wave breaking through paywalls and evolving into research products that may not resemble books as we know them? Change is coming, as evidenced by ongoing initiatives and reports. The future monograph open access environment is likely to differ significantly from the open access journal movement. The successful Knowledge Unlatched pilot project in the spring of 2014 gathered support from 297 libraries across the globe to turn 28 scholarly monographs into open access titles. Libraries proved they are willing to step up and explore alternative models to support this type of scholarship. In June 2014 the Association of Research Libraries and the American Association of Universities proposed that universities provide a subvention to a newly-hired faculty member to support the cost of that individual’s first peer-reviewed book. The books would then be available as open access titles. The sand is shifting quickly as awareness increases. The Mellon Foundation is exploring an idea to subsidize open access digital humanities interactive research products that otherwise would be channeled into a scholarly monograph format. Universities would be asked to provide partial support for these works. The Open Library of the Humanities is investigating alternative collective funding mechanisms for open access in the humanities, including monographs. University presses, foundations, faculty, administrators, and librarians are all engaged in developing structures that will allow social science and humanities long form scholarship to reach the widest possible audience. These are exciting times!
Leah was appointed Executive Director of the Charleston Conference in 2017, and has served in various roles with the Charleston Information Group, LLC, since 2004. Prior to working for the conference, she was Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions for the College of Charleston for four years. She lives in a small town near Columbia, SC, with her husband and two kids where they raise a menagerie of farm animals.