Open Access and Repositories: Hot Topics

Open Access Publishing (OAP) and self-publishing in repositories are sure to generate a room full of interested people these days, and the SLA sessions on these topics were no exception.

In the OAP session, Marie McVeigh reviewed some research that Thomson Scientific has done on the effect of OAP on citation rates and impact factors. She mentioned papers by Lawrence in Nature (2001), who studied conference presentations in computer science; Antelman in College & Research Libraries (2004) and Wren in
British Medical Journal (2005), who looked at groups of articles. All of these studies indicated that just because an article was available at no cost did not necessarily increase its usage.

George Kendall from the National Academy of Sciences discussed their experience with their Proceedings journal (PNAS). PNAS becomes freely available six months after publication, but authors can pay to have their articles available freely immediately. About 15% of PNAS authors opt for immediate free access; their articles enjoy a 50% increase in usage in the first month of publication.

Finally, Peter Suber of Earlham College and creator of a well known newsletter and website on OAP, described faculty views of OAP. They want wider access to their works via OAP as authors, and as readers, they want increase access to the works of other authors. However, as Suber pointed out, librarians have a much better understanding of the issues in OAP, but faculty have more control over the solutions because they decide where to publish their papers. It’s an interesting dichotomy and one for which a solution is needed. Suber suggested that authors ask journal publishers for permission to self-archive their articles in their institutional repositories. They have little to lose because over 80% of publishers now routinely give such permission.

In another session on self-archiving, some similar sentiments appeared. In the corporate world, however, the picture is different because corporate researchers are not as dependent upon publication for promotion, etc. So it is much more difficult to get them to contribute their articles to a repository. Librarians at companies with a clearance process for external publication have an advantage if they can get those responsible for clearing articles to notify them when an article has gone through the process. Another speaker said that in his view, self-archiving does not work in an academic setting because most faculty are strongly tied to traditional publishing and are ignorant or fearful of self-archiving.

Clearly, OAP still has a long way to go before it becomes universally accepted, and we can expect to see overflowing sessions on this subject at future conferences.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

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