Official Publications Policy Supporting Open Access for DIT.
As a result of a decision made by the Research and Scholarship Committee and ratified by the Directorate, DIT has agreed to support the Open Access Movement by implementing an Official Publications Policy Supporting Open Access. This mandates DIT authors to deposit the full text of their publications (where possible) in the Institutional Repository Arrow@DIT. The full text of the policy is available at http://arrow.dit.ie/mandate.html and will be effective from the 1st of January, 2010.
While the majority of Irish research councils/funders have already mandated authors to make their research available as open access, DIT is the first educational institution in Ireland to do so. A list of institutions who have similar polices can be accessed at http://www.eprints.org/openaccess/policysignup/.
This short article will attempt to explain the importance of making research available on an open access model and some of the issues involved.
What is Open Access and why is it important?
Open Access is a movement to make the results of research activity freely available to all on the web. There are a number of reasons for this:
- Research is supported by public money and the results should be freely available to the public.
- The purpose of Scholarly communication is to disseminate the results of research as quickly as possible. This is done faster and more easily on the web than through traditional publishing channels.
- Digital Natives (and indeed Digital Immigrants) are used to finding information free on the web and frequently fail to realise that access to this information is only made possible because their institution has paid for it. As a result of the economic downturn access to such information is becoming problematic as libraries retrench and cut rather than renew journal subscriptions. A striking example of this is the very recent decision by SFI not to renew the bulk of the funding for the Irel project which provided the Universities with access to a vast array of journal information.
- Less traditional and more multi disciplinary activities can find it more difficult to be published in traditional journals.
- A lot of research is collaborative and collaborators can discover each other more easily on the web.
- Personal reputation and that of the institution can be enhanced by publishing to the web.
It has been suggested that Open Access Publishing is of poorer quality than traditional publishing. This is really only relevant as a criticism when applied to some Open Access Journals which can vary in quality. On the other hand, experts in a cutting edge field can come together to publish open access journals as being both quicker and cheaper. In such cases the peer review process can be as rigorous as for traditional journals and the quality similar. However, authors should exercise caution when investigating publishing with an open access journal. It is always advisable to check the provenance of the journal and the quality of the Editorial Board and the home institution.
Open access the death knell of the scholarly journal?
This is the argument often advanced against Open Access Publishing not alone by Publishers but also by small scholarly societies who depend on subscriptions. Currently, it is not an either or situation. Both traditional and open access models are operating in tandem. The vast majority of publishers, recognising that scholars do most of the work for them for no economic advantage, permit authors to publish their final versions in institutional repositories and on the web. However, in most cases, they will not permit their published version to be posted. Their argument is that they apply editorial control and management and have an economic investment in the work. There are some exceptions to this such as IEEE (The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) who permit their published version to be uploaded to repositories. However, it should be remembered that it can take up to 18 months to be published in a peer review journal which does not ensure speedy dissemination of research results. Many of these journals operate very traditional criteria for inclusion in the journal and do not necessarily embrace innovative thinking. The pressure “to publish or perish” means a great number of authors compete for limited space. Thankfully many of the publishers operate policies that permit the author to publish their own version to the web after acceptance. It is more likely that this permission will apply after the article has appeared in print. Also, it must be pointed out that a small number of publishers will not permit any version to be uploaded. In this case, there will be a citation only in Arrow@DIT with a clear statement that permission to publish has been refused.
Authors need to remember that when they signed the agreement with the publisher they will have also signed over ownership of the information to the publisher. This means that even the author cannot use his/her own material without the permission of the publisher. Many publishers will permit books to be uploaded once they are out of print. Frequently, Book chapters can also be uploaded as by doing so does not negate the economic advantage to the publishers
The Library will check the publishers policies in relation to material submitted to Arrow@DIT and ensure compliance. Where the publisher’s policy cannot be found the Library will contact them seeking written permission. This has already been done with a number of Irish publishers who have been happy to grant permission. However, the easiest way is for the author to check the publisher’s policy once the material has been accepted. This can be accomplished by a simple request for permission to publish the author’s final version or if they are agreeable the published version in Arrow@Dit. In all cases, a link will be established to the published version both to verify the fact that it was published and so that those (lucky enough to have a subscription) can access the published article. It is the repository manager’s role to ensure that the Institute complies with the publishers’ policies. As with any publishing situation the author is required to ensure that the content is copyright compliant.
There are a number of versions that a journal article goes through in the publishing cycle and it can be difficult to recognise which version should be deposited in Arrow:
Pre Print: This is the version of the article before it goes through the peer review process.
Post Print: This is the version of the article after it has been through the peer review process.
Authors Final Version: This the version after the amendments and corrections have been made, the peer review process completed and the article has been proof read by the author. This is generally the version that can be uploaded to Arrow@dit.
Publishers PDF: This is the version as it appears in the journal. It will carry the publishers branding and journal layout.
At the very least when signing the copyright transfer form, ask for permission to reserve the right to upload the article to the institutional repository. The Publishers PDF would be the preferred version for long term preservation but failing that, the Authors Final Version will suffice.
Researchers are very busy people and wish to concentrate on the research only. However, increasingly, researchers have to assume some responsibility for the dissemination of the results of their work. As funding opportunities become more limited, funders are keen to have some indication of the impact of the research. The full text download statistics from Arrow@DIT supplied monthly to each individual author can produce a convincing argument that the research is pertinent and of current interest. The annual statistics produced for each School and Faculty can be very useful for Quality Reviews. As a personal marketing tool, Arrow@DIT provides an author with global publicity providing a world stage on which to promote the research. This can be particularly important if your interest is highly specialised as you can find like minded individuals on the web. Moreover, because Arrow@DIT is an institutional repository it will be regarded as an authorative source since it is provided by an educational establishment. Given all that, the effort of depositing an article seems a small price to pay. Once familiar with the system, depositing a paper takes less than 5 minutes. This does not have to be done by the author but can be delegated to others such as research assistants or the library staff.
Uploading to Arrow@DIT is a simple procedure. Once an author has created a personal account, he/she can start uploading material. The Library will be happy to help and advise authors, demonstrate the system and advise on copyright and permission issues.
“The power to change is the power to communicate. Communication is what makes the Internet such a powerful thing. The power of the Internet is the power to send letters again. The power of the Internet is the power to revisit language again. Language has a new tool in its toolbox. In there with the words, grammar, quills, pens, ink, typewriters, now can be found the Internet. Language and its communication is reinvigorated by the Internet.” (McGovern, Gerry)
This extract is from an article by Gerrry McGovern entitled The Power of Communication written in 1997. McGovern is regarded as one of the visionaries who helped developed the web. The power to communicate he talked about is now matched by the ability to retrieve information on a global scale. What McGovern saw as a power is now an unstoppable force. Institutional repositories in general and Arrow@dit.ie in particular are part of that force. Depositing material in an open access repository ensures communication will not only take place but will be preserved for future generations.
To paraphrase Luke Skywalker in Star Wars:
“May the Force be with You!”
Sauber, Peter: Open Access overview
Budapest Open Access Initiative and others
Open Access Week 19-23 October, 2009
Sparc:Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition
This has the Romeo database which lists most of the major publishers policies in regard to open access.
Public Access Forum:White House Blog on open access (Dec,2009-7 Jan, 2010)
The Power to Communicate
New Thinking, October,1997