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During the Open Access Week Universities and Libraries Confronted Barriers to Open Access and Benefits of its Models

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Brock University, St. Catharines, ON, Canada, September 15, 2012 | © Courtesy of Matt Clare/Flickr.

As the Open Access Week unfolded around the globe in the last week of October, 2018, university libraries have considered the obstacles to Open Access adoption, while concentrating on its advantages, possible misinterpretations and local applications.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.


For universities, such as the Penn State University, United States, the past Open Access Week has provided an occasion to raise the awareness of staff, faculty and students of the contribution Open Access can make to removing the paywall-based barriers to the distribution and sharing of scholarly knowledge. University-level data and paper repositories can be argued to reduce licensing restrictions, aid researchers to retain copyright over their findings and increase student engagement with digital content.

At the same time, the implications of transitioning to Open Access for the publishing market may remain under-appreciated, as university libraries put a spotlight on the sharing of scientific knowledge, rather than on the economic sustainability of the business models on which scholarly journals are based. The appointment and promotion of researchers, especially at private or public universities as places of their remunerated work, frequently depend on the ranking and quality of the journals in which they publish their articles. However, the presentations of subscription-based models of publishing houses that scholars and libraries sometimes proffer concentrate on the paid nature of their services, while obviating the expenses that publishers have to cover, as part of making copyright-anchored online access to their databases and journals a possibility.

Nevertheless, in recent years the rise of Open Access models in the journal publishing sector and the proliferation of institutional repositories for preprints or postprints of published articles have also increased the importance of transitional Open Access formats, such as Green or hybrid Open Access that combine both subscription-based institutional memberships, Creative Commons licenses and limited access embargoes.

Yet absent a consistent university-wide or country-level policy for transition to Open Access, for individual researchers without the wherewithal to cover article processing charges that Open Access journals require the adoption of Open Access can entail a departure from no author-facing fees and collective bargaining on behalf of academic journals that the traditional subscription-based models involve, while shifting the effective costs of access to peer-viewed knowledge to its producers and their funders.

Despite and because of these affordances of Open Access, it has been making significant inroads in the journal publishing market internationally, as about 20% of scholarly journals worldwide have transitioned to various models of Open Access at present. This could be due to the relative affordability of article processing charges, the economic efficiency of Open Access models as vehicles for knowledge distribution and immediate benefits that flipping to Open Access can bring.

For instance, the adoption of no-cost Open Access textbooks, the copyright-protected equivalents of which can cost about 200 USD each, can reduce significantly the toll of expenses students accumulate, enable flexible course designs and allow the free sharing or downloading of course materials.

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: Brock University, St. Catharines, ON, Canada, September 15, 2012 | © Courtesy of Matt Clare/Flickr.

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