W&M Libraries publishes new research guides for Open Access Week

You’ve probably heard a lot about copyright, but are you aware of a new movement to increase the pace and accessibility of scientific discovery and scholarly research? Open access is the immediate, online access to research articles combined with the rights to freely use them in a digital environment. In honor of Open Access (OA) Week, W&M Libraries have released a collection of research guides within “scholarly communications” to help the W&M community learn more about these important topics.

The research guides include information on open access, copyright and fair use, data management and publishing.

“Open access is a relatively new form of publication, which provides the greatest access to scholarly content by removing delays (“embargoes”) to publication, paywalls and other barriers such as permissions for use,” said Marian Taliaferro, digital scholarship librarian. “The open access movement has developed a wide following as scholars work to get their scholarship to the widest possible audience, and students and others interested in learning seek to find content at a reasonable cost.”

The origins of the open access movement are largely attributed to U.S. federal legislation put into place this decade in order to ensure that research which received federal dollars is freely accessible to the public which paid for it.

“Prior, researchers put their blood, sweat and tears into their research, then in most cases had to sign away their copyright in turn for publication only to have readers have to pay for access to the publication already funded through their tax dollars,” said Taliaferro.

Due to similar legislation in the United Kingdom and the U.S. public’s consternation that they be charged to access federally funded findings, mandates were then put into place, notably at the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and through other US federal agencies as expressed in the Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) memo.

On the Open Access research guide, you will see information including how to find open access journals for publication, a list of OA repositories, how to evaluate OA journals (including how to identify predatory journals), policies and perspectives regarding OA publication and some common myths about OA journals. There’s also information on how perspective authors can negotiate the terms of their author agreements or adopt licenses so others can build from their work. Because authors of OA works retain the copyright to their work, they also have the option to implement free licenses from Creative Commons, a non-profit, to indicate how others can use it. For example, they might allow others to use and modify their work so long as they are given attribution by the successive author(s). In addition to the information contained in the research guides, the non-profit Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) provides information on Open Access on their website.

Stay tuned for more developments in OA, including some Open Educational Resources (OER’s) efforts to reduce the cost of student textbooks!