Open access and publishing – for the SFU School of Communication professional development day, March 23, 2012
School of Communication Professional Development Day – March 23, 2012
Open access and publishing
Open access is literature that is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions (see Peter Suber’s Open Access Overview http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm). There are many advantages for scholars who make their work open access. For example, our work is more likely to be read and cited – see Steve Hitchcock’s The effect of open access and downloads (‘hits’) on citation impact: a bibliography of studies http://opcit.eprints.org/oacitation-biblio.html. Many research funding agencies require open access to the results of research that they fund. For example, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has a Policy on Access to Research Outputs requiring open access within 6 months of publication. A current list of funding agencies with open access policies is maintained by Sherpa JULIET http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/juliet/. Many academic and research institutions have open access requirement policies. This is a growing trend. Institutional policy details can be found through the Registry of Open Access Material Archiving Policies (ROARMAP) http://roarmap.eprints.org/. Aside from academic citations, our work is much more accessible to the world and hence more likely to have real-world impact if it is open access; outside of academic libraries, there are very few people and organizations with subscriptions to academic journals. My draft dissertation provides one example of the impact of closed access in the case of a participatory action research project involving young aboriginal women – see the beginning of this chapter: http://pages.cmns.sfu.ca/heather-morrison/chapter-two-scholarly-communication-in-crisis/
Open access publishing
One way to make our work open access is to publish in a fully open access journal. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), a vetted list of fully open access (no delays), peer-reviewed scholarly journals, lists over 100 journals in the subject area Media and Communication (under Social Sciences), at: http://www.doaj.org/doaj?func=subject&cpid=130&uiLanguage=en
Because of the vetting process, there can be a delay in including journals in DOAJ. For example, the Union of Democratic Communication’s Democratic Communiqué recently became an open access journal, and clearly meets the DOAJ criteria, but is not yet included in DOAJ. There are some journals on the DOAJ list that scholars that we know are involved with or have published in. For example, some of our colleagues have published in tripleC – Cognition, Communication, Co-operation. Yuzhei Zhao is on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Communication (headed by Manuel Castells and Larry Gross). Asking colleagues about their experiences with publishing in a journal is always a good idea, whether the journal is open access or not.
Most of the journals on this particular DOAJ list do NOT charge publication fees.
If you want to publish in an open access journal that DOES charge publication fees, some things to keep in mind:
- Watch out for predatory open access publishers – there are scam artists out there who will take your money, may not do peer review at all, and their journals are very unlikely to be considered prestigious by anyone – Jeffrey Beall maintains a list of predatory and suspect publishers, at: http://metadata.posterous.com/83235355
- The Simon Fraser University Library has a fund to pay OA publication fees: http://www.lib.sfu.ca/node/10281. The library is a great place to check for the legitimacy of an open access journal or publisher; it’s a good idea to check with the library before submitting your paper to an OA journal with article processing fees.
- Once you leave SFU and go to another institution, check the Open Access Directory to see if your institution has an open access journal fund: http://oad.simmons.edu/oadwiki/OA_journal_funds
- Many open access publishers will waive fees for authors that have no funding. Check for this before submitting your work.
Many scholarly society journals are providing free access to back issues, so can be considered partially open access. For example, the Canadian Journal of Communication makes issues available after 12 months.
When deciding where to publish, it is important to keep in mind that university hiring committees and tenure and promotion committees often use metrics such as impact factor in assessing your publication record. This can mean that traditional journals are favoured over newer open access journals. This situation is beginning to change, but you should be aware that your publication choices can impact your career, and if you publish open access, be prepared to explain your choice.
Open access books: typically nowadays, publishers will print no more than 300 – 400 print copies of a scholarly monograph. If you really want people to read and cite a book that you are writing, it is a good idea to consider publishing your book as open access. A list of open access book publishers can be found in the Open Access Directory http://oad.simmons.edu/oadwiki/Publishers_of_OA_books
Another way to provide open access to our work is to deposit it in an open access archive.
Simon Fraser University offers an institutional repository called SUMMIT where we can self-archive our work such as journal articles, book chapters, theses, presentations, and research data, at: http://summit.sfu.ca/. There are also a variety of disciplinary repositories that may be of interest depending on the details of our research work, such as the Social Sciences Research Network http://www.ssrn.com/ and PubMedCentral Canada for health-related research http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/42642.html
The Sherpa RoMEO Publisher Copyright Policies and Author Self-Archiving
http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/ site provides details on publishers’ default policies on self-archiving for authors. For example, Sage’s Action Research is RoMEO yellow. If you wish to publish in Action Research, you can self-archive a copy of your work in SUMMIT. The author’s preprint (your own version before peer review) can be self-archived and made open access with no delay. The author’s postprint (your own version after peer review is completed but before the publisher does any copyediting or layout) can be self-archived, but open access must be delayed for 12 months after the date of publication. You cannot self-archive a copy of the publisher’s PDF.
Negotiating your rights: many authors have successfully negotiated rights retention beyond the publishers’ default policy. One way to negotiate your rights is using the SPARC Canadian Author’s Addendum http://carl-abrc.ca/en/scholarly-communications/resources-for-authors.html#addendum. The idea is to attach the Addendum to the contract the publisher asks you to sign; the addendum specifies the rights that you wish to retain to make your work open access.
Beyond sharing our published works, there are many ways of sharing our work-in-progress such as blogs and other forms of social media. Like attending conferences, this kind of sharing can lead to useful discussions that will improve our thinking and research long before we get around to writing something up for publication. I currently have two blogs, at the School of Communication http://pages.cmns.sfu.ca/heather-morrison/ and The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics http://poeticeconomics.blogspot.com. It can be a little bit scary throwing your early ideas and questions out there for anyone to comment on, but I have found it be a very useful process that has greatly helped me to develop expertise in my empirical area of scholarly communication and open access.