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Open access and the discipline of communication

What is open access? While there are many flavors of open access, and many related movements including open data, open education, and open government, open access refers primarily to the scholarly peer-reviewed journal literature – the works that scholars give away for free. Here is the definition of open access from the Budapest Open Access Initiative: By “open access” to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these 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.

There are two basic types of making works open access: through open access archives, or open access journals. Most university libraries have open access archives available for faculty and grad students. It is possible to search all these items at once, for example through the freely available Bielefeld Academic Search Engine, or through an internet search engine. [Hint: if you know the exact item you want, a plain google search may get you to the freely available item faster than google scholar].

Most publishers allow authors to post their articles for open access; this information is available through the SHERPA RoMEO Publisher Copyright Policies and Self-Archiving service.

OR authors can assert their rights through such means as the CARL SPARC Author’s Addendum.

A list of fully open access journals (close to 5,000 as of March 2010) can be found at the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). DOAJ is growing at a rate of about 2 titles per day. DOAJ lists over 70 journals in the area of Media and Communication Studies. The International Association of Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) maintains its own list of open access journals. The IAMCR list includes titles which are only partially open access (e.g., after an embargo period), so the two lists are not identical. SFU publishes two peer-reviewed journals in the area of open access that I know of (if I’m missing one, please drop me a line at hgmorris dot sfu ca): Scholarly and Research Communication and Stream. [Disclosure: I am an Associate Editor with Scholarly and Research Communication and a reviewer for Stream].

The open access International Journal of Communication is highly recommended by my professor Canada Research Chair Dr. Yuezhi Zhao for high quality peer review, reputation (the Advisory Board includes Manuel Castells and Larry Gross), and speed to publication. With no limitations on space, says Dr. Zhao, the International Journal of Communication can often coordinate peer review and publish within months, as compared to years as is common with some traditional publications.

It may be of interest that SFU plays an important part in making many of these journals possible! SFU Library and the SFU Centre for Studies in Publishing are a partner in the Public Knowledge Project that develops open source software for publishing, such as the Open Journal Systems in use by more than 5,000 journals around the world. Update March 28, 2010: please see the article by Stephen Hui in the Georgia Straight, Simon Fraser University takes steps to support open access publishing.

For a comprehensive overview of open access, see my book chapter on the topic.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Fair Use and Academic Freedom of the International Communication Association just released the report Clipping our own wings copyright and creativity in communication research, outlining some of the problems that copyright (and confusion and about copyright laws) creates for communication scholars.

Last updated April 2, 2010

Posted: Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 @ 3:00 am
Categories: Uncategorized.
Tags: , .
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