Celebrate Open Access Week

October 23, 2012

We’re celebrating Open Access Week, 22-28 October, 2012 here at Massey University Library. As part of these celebrations, there will be a series of short, introductory posts on Open Access of which this is the first. There is also a physical display on level one of Turitea Library. Pop in and check it out!

Open Access Week is a global event, in its 6th year, “promoting Open Access as a new norm in scholarship and research.” Many institutions, libraries and scholars throughout the world will be commemorating this week with events such as seminars, conferences and discussions on open access, institutional repositories, ejournal publishing and more.

This first post introduces the concept of Open Access. Following posts will cover the role of Open Access in scholarly communication and publishing, where Open Access content is to be found, and Open Access at Massey.

What is Open Access?

Peter Suber (2012a) defines open access literature as “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” This means that anyone with a computer and internet access is able to view the articles or other scholarly material.

Open Access is a concept made possible by the technology of the internet. As Suber says, “Digital technologies have created more than one revolution. Let’s call this one the access revolution” (2012b).

The two main channels for open access literature are Open Access Archives and Open Access Journals. The articles of Open Access Journals are freely available online in their published version, usually from the publisher’s website or other authorised platform. Open Access Archives often come in the form of institutional or subject repositories and usually provide an earlier version of the article such as the accepted version. This is the peer-reviewed, author-created version that is accepted for publication. (For more information on the different publication versions of articles, see: http://www2.lse.ac.uk/library/versions/)

There are several forms of Open Access that are described by an associated colour: gold, gold hybrid, gold delayed, green, blue, yellow, and white. The three forms of ‘gold’ Open Access are considered ‘true’ Open Access meaning published versions of articles available without cost, and are found associated with Open Access Journals. ‘Gold’ is when the publisher makes the content available at the time of publication; ‘Gold Hybrid’ is when some content from an issue is available or if the author(s) themselves have paid for it to be made open access. ‘Delayed Gold’ describes a situation where the content will be made available after a period of time, perhaps six months, a year or more.

The other colours are associated with Open Access Archiving. This requires effort on the part of the author to self-archive or the institution to manually place the article into the repository. The various colours denote which version of the article is allowed to be made available, along with other associated conditions, such as set statements regarding copyright, or links to publisher versions. The Sherpa/Romeo website lists many journals and their publishers’ copyright policies and outlines these requirements.

Open Access does not mean completely ‘free’. It is free for readers not for producers. There are still costs associated with the production of Open Access literature. There are two aspects of ‘free’ when discussing Open access as free for readers: ‘Gratis’ meaning free to read, and ‘Libre’ meaning free to reuse (and read). “Gratis – free to read” removes any price barriers. The item is available to be read only. “Libre- free to reuse” removes not only price barriers but some permission barriers as well and the content may be reused without infringing on copyright or licensing restrictions. More on copyright, authors’ rights and intellectual property in the next post.

Morrison, H. (2009). Scholarly Communications for Librarians. Cambridge, UK: Chandos Publishing.
Suber, P. (2012a). Open Access Overview. Retrieved from http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm
Suber, P. (2012) Open Access. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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