Information Update - Fall 2005

The Impact of Scholarship and Open Access Journals

Publishers of academic journals are at cross purposes with the intent of dissemination of research and scholarship of the authors whose articles they publish. Peter Stuber states in his article "A Primer on Open Access to Science and Scholarship" that journal revenue has grown, but authors continue to write for impact, advancing knowledge and careers, not money. The dissemination of scholarly journals and content articles has become a profit making endeavor that has academic institutions in a stranglehold of escalating costs for full-text access with complex packages and conditional access on the user end. Scholars sell their rights and souls to get published, relinquishing ownership for the privilege of publication. Prices continue to rise while library budgets are being cut. Book budgets are often spare and at times eliminated to pay homage to and tribute for access to scholarly publications. Open access journals defined are journals that use a funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access. Open access promotes the notion of "royalty-free" literature without loss of revenue to the author.
 
The idea expanded, and the term "open access" was recognized as part of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI, http://www.soros.org/openaccess/ ) in 2002 by the Open Society Institute (OSI http://www.opensource.org/ ) to resolve the price bottleneck of scholarly information. It was here open access was defined as:

"scientific and scholarly literature, its fee availability on the public Internet permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print search or link to the full texts for articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the Internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited." – Budapest, Hungary ( February 14, 200)

The idea of open access was originally proposed by Stevan Harnad on a Virginia Tech mailing list in 1994 where he advocated the continuance of peer reviewed scholarly publishing in print with an Internet preprint archive freely available and accessible. As a result and in reaction to the "serials crisis" of escalating costs the academic research library community created SPARC, Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (http://www.arl.org/sparc/ ) to encourage alternative publishing endeavors, provide alternative titles to overpriced commercial titles, and cultivate relations between scholars and publishers. Alternative purchasing solutions came out of SPARC in the form of institutional memberships and subscriptions, but not the free access proposed by Harnad. Virginia Tech became a leader in the open access movement with NDLTD
(http://www.ndltd.org/) a digital repository of theses and dissertations, followed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information and PubMed, the free content indexed in MEDLINE. The United States, late to the open access table, moved forward with the National Health Institute open access via PubMed Central, a digital repository for biomedical research.
 
In 1999 the Open Internet Archive (OAI, http://www.openarchives.org/) a computer protocol designed to harvest metadata was open created. It has become the standard in digital library initiatives providing descriptive metadata for description and search of scholarly information. The current user friendly archive of open access journals, available via the Internet, was created with the assistance of SPARC and OAI the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ, http://www.doaj.org/) hosted by Lund University Libraries. DOAJ is a directory of open access titles categorized by subject. The First Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communication in Lund, Copenhagen is where the idea of creating a comprehensive Directory of Open Access Journals was conceived. The increase of freely accessible online journals, the development of subject specific preprint and electronic archives and collections of resources provided a very valuable collection of scientific documents to the existing formats of published scientific information. Electronic journals and documents available free via the World Wide Web have been difficult to organize and integrate into library collections and information services for user end search retrieval. DOAJ collected and subject organized open access journals in a searchable web portal, offering added value both for the service providers of these resources and for the research and education community. Increased visibility leads to increased usage, and there is a practical need and vested interest for the community to support new open access journals. A service that systematically provides journal and article level information, access to full text of articles, and simplified integration with other services has contributed substantially to securing a future for Open Access Journals.
 
A link to DOAJ can be found on the "Database by Title" page on the library's Website. The purpose and mission of the DOAJ is to increase the availability and be a comprehensive provider of scientific and scholarly open access journals facilitating access and use. The use of a quality control systems guarantees scholarly content within the database. Quality control of content mandates that the journal meets the requirements of peer-review or editorial quality to be included and that the journal apply quality control on submitted papers through an editor, editorial board or a peer-review process. Selection criteria for content include scientific and scholarly subjects in periodicals that published research or review papers in full-text. Acceptable publications vary from academic, government, commercial, non-profit and private resources. The intended collection of publications is principally research, therefore the primary content of the journal should consist of research papers and be available in full-text. Journals that have an embargo period or require fees by the end user or institution are not included. Content is available in a variety of formats. DOAJ was executed in two phases: first with the creation of the directory, and next the development of a inclusive search system for article level content using metadata provided by journal publishers. The data list is routinely updated indicating which journals have been added during the last month. Searches can be conducted by journal titles or all inclusive keyword article searches.
 
DOAJ goes beyond indexing by providing full-text quality content, creating an information and knowledge sharing environment. It is another searchable database on the library's resource list, the difference is that the benefit is full circle, for academic authors have not only access but the satisfaction that the fruit of their labor is available to students and scholars. We write and research for posterity, not the financial demigods of industry.
 
Further Reading:
 
Morgan, Eric Lease. 2004 "Open Access Publishing." Presentation given at an LILRC meeting at Dowling College, NY October 25, 2004.
http://www.infomotions.com/musings/open-access/
 
Suber, Peter. June 2004. "A Primer on Open Access to Science and Scholarship." originally appeared in Against the Grain, vol. 16, no. 3 http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/writing/atg.htm
 
Suber, Peter. 2004. "Creating an Intellectual Commons through Open Access." Presented at the Workshop on Scholarly Communication as a Commons, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, March 31- April 2, 2004. http://dlc.dlib.indiana.edu/archive/00001246/
 
 
Clara Hudson>
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