The information people use is increasingly available online, often for free, and scholarly publications are no exception. Open access scholarly publications are, as Peter Suber describes them, “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions,” and they may be available at a publisher’s website or placed in a repository by an author. Open access journals are proliferating, as are open access policies at institutions of higher education. Why the growing interest among scholars in choosing open access?
No institution can subscribe to every journal or buy every book. If you were selling journals or books, you would focus your energy on capturing as much as you could of the shrinking library budgets that are the primary source of income for publishers of academic works. But if all you want is for your writing to reach as many people as possible, why limit your audience to people at institutions that can afford a subscription, or those willing to wait for interlibrary loan?
Open access removes barriers between readers and scholarly publications. Widespread open access is new enough that there is still research and debate about how much open access availability improves citation rates. But what is clear is that open access works are read more and have higher download rates, which only makes sense: imagine readers who can’t tell from a title in a search result whether or not your work is relevant to them. If they read it, they may end up citing it or passing it on to their colleagues. If it’s hard for them to access, they may not bother. There are simple, free, and legal ways that you can increase your readership and reach new communities of scholars and the general public. Learn how to take advantage of author archiving or publisher-hosted open access.
Health care providers. High school students. People in developing nations. Taxpayers. Open access articles can be reached by anyone with an internet connection. Other scholars in your field may be your primary audience, but the world is full of people who may be enriched by reading scholarly publications. Public service lies at the heart of the University of California’s mission, and sharing the university’s research output is a way to give back to the public and to demonstrate the value of academic work. Learn more:
- Visit the Right to Research Coalition, a student organization advocating that “Access to Research is a Student Right.”
- Read about the UC Open Access Policy, passed by UC Faculty in July 2013: “… as part of a public university system, the Faculty is dedicated to making its scholarship available to the people of California and the world.”
- Hear a 16-year-old winner of the Intel Science Fair talk about how relied on open access articles to develop a breakthrough in diagnosing pancreatic cancer.
- Watch the PHD Comics video What Is Open Access?
Governments, universities, and funding agencies — all interested in the value of their investment in scholarly research — are increasingly requiring that the publications derived from grant-funded research be made publicly available.
- The Policies & Legislation page has more details about federal and state requirements.
- The UC Open Access Policy section has more information about the University of California Open Access Policy.
- SHERPA/JULIET tracks the open access policy requirements of research funders all over the world, and ROARMAP tracks both funder policies and institutional (e.g., university and college) policies.
OA Publishing Tools
Learn more about the Open Access publishing tools available to you through the University of California.