Category Archives: Open Access topics


Two wonderful resources for academics thinking about public access and open access came to my attention recently, and I want to share them as widely as possible.

The first is this video of a short speech given to the 40th LIBER Annual conference in Barcelona by Neelie Kroes , the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda.  LIBER is the Association of European Research Libraries, and Ms. Kroes gave their keynote address at the end of last month.

In her four-minute speech Commissioner Kroes does two important things.  First, she succinctly states the case for public access to government-funded research, including the data that underlies research.  She provides a sterling example of a politician (she was in both the Dutch Parliament and its cabinet) who really understands the needs and difficulties of scholarly research, as well as the opportunities provided by the digital environment.  The second important part of Commissioner Kroes’ speech is her announcement that the European Commission will expand its public access mandate for funded research to include all research supported by the EC.  Time for the U.S. to follow suit, if we do not want to lose ground in innovation and economic development.

The second brilliant resource I want to point is this 12 point explanation of the relationship between Open Access and Copyright by Peter Suber.  It is an unfortunate reality of my job that I am frequently reminded about how many misconceptions regarding copyright persist amongst scholars.  Unfortunately, there are some who try to exploit the misunderstands to convince scholars that copyright is simply too complex for them to manage, and surrendering all their rights is the path of least resistance.  Professor Suber’s 12 points do a superb job of debunking some of the myths and clarifying that open access and copyright are not only perfectly compatible, but also that good copyright management can be a tremendous (and attainable) benefit to scholars.

OA policies and future directions

As we wrap up our series of blog posts on open access topics — you can see the whole category here — I want to remind readers of three points about open access at Duke and open access in general.

First, the OA policy approved by the Duke faculty last spring was primarily a unanimous vote in favor of open access in principle.  By giving the university a license to make works available in an institutional repository, the policy changes the default for scholarship at Duke to openness.  Still, it was clear from the start of the process that participation in the repository program would depend on how easy the process of getting works into DukeSpace is made.  Implementation, in this regard, is everything; adding extra work for busy faculty is a unpromising way to get buy-in to a new program.  Thus while we hope to unveil a self-deposit portal for faculty during Duke’s OA Week observances, we remain committed to using automated processes (automated, at least, from the faculty perspective) as the primary way to get content into DukeSpace.  We hope many interested parties, especially amongst the Duke faculty, will join us for a discussion of these plans on Tuesday, Oct. 19.

I love the system in place at Harvard, where much of the work of gathering and verifying citations, then clearing rights for deposit, is done by OAFs — Open Access Fellows, who are student employees.  I hope the academic world will soon see lots of OAFs (what a great acronym!) working on many campuses.

Second, the OA policy at Duke is part of a larger and multifaceted commitment to open access.  That commitment ranges from support of national legislation to work on the local repository.  It stretches back over a decade, thanks to the leadership of the Law School that Melanie Dunshee described in our previous posting.  One new development in that long-standing commitment is the announcement made last week of a COPE fund at Duke.  This is a fund designed to help authors pay article processing fees that are changed by some open access journals as a way to replace subscription income.  The COPE movement, with a brief acknowledgment of Duke’s participation, is described in this article from Inside Higher Ed.  That the movement has been slow may be true, but part of the reason for the pace is that the goals of COPE funds are really long-term.  The point is not to subsidize a particular journal or even a particular set of authors.  Rather, the goal is to create a new incentive structure to encourage journals to consider open access business models and to remove barriers that might exist for authors who want to publish in OA journals.

Finally, I want to encourage readers to look back at this site over the next few weeks for news from the Berlin 8 Open Access conference.  My colleague Paolo Mangiafico and I will be traveling to Beijing, the site of the B8 conference this year, with lots of questions about how we can cooperate internationally on open access to scholarship and how our values, goals and methods around OA are similar or different from those in other countries.  We will be reporting what we learn  in this space, with, I hope, pictures.

The movement for free access to law

By Melanie Dunshee, Assistant Dean for Library Services, Duke Law School

It is amazing to see how quickly the annual Open Access event has evolved from a one-day student event led by Students for Free Culture in 2007 to the global International Open Access Week organized by SPARC.   While the OA movement has its roots in the sciences, open access to legal materials is also a growing movement grounded on principles that open access to legal information promotes justice, transparency in government, and the rule of law.  Projects involving both primary legal materials and interpretative materials, particularly journals of legal scholarship, are growing all over the world.

Primary Legal Materials

Open access for legal materials often focuses on “primary” legal materials, such as legislation, regulations, court opinions, and treaties.  Governments have responded to advocates and interested groups to improve access to some of these materials in recent years, for example GPO’s Federal Digital System.  Open access advocates also argue for the right of non-governmental organizations, particularly non-profit groups, to have access to these materials so that they can develop systems to maximize discovery and distribution, and provide opportunities to use legal materials in new ways and across jurisdictional boundaries. Authentication and preservation of legal materials in electronic formats present critical and complex issues to solve in order that users of the information can rely on it.   Below are just a few examples of projects in this area.

– The World Legal Information Institute is an international leader in this area promoting free access to legal information and, more importantly, creating search and discovery systems to access materials made available by regional and national legal information institutes in a unified system.

Law.Gov describes itself as “A Proposed Distributed Repository of All Primary Legal Materials of the United States” and has recently conducted workshops around the country to promote its ideas and examine the issues involved.

Legal Information Institute (LII) housed at Cornell Law School has been providing access to legal information since the early 1990’s . “We are a not-for-profit organization that believes everyone should be able to read and understand the laws that govern them, without cost. We carry out this vision by:  Publishing law online, for free; Creating materials that help people understand law; Exploring new technologies that make it easier for people to find the law.”

American Association of Law Libraries ELIACC This committee has been working on various projects particularly regarding state legal materials, and is currently drafting a uniform law that would serve as a model for adoption in all states, the Authentication and Preservation of State Electronic Legal Materials Act.

Legal Scholarship

Providing open access to interpretive materials about the law is in many ways similar to other disciplines, with scholarly articles as the predominant form of legal scholarship in the United States.  For instance, many law schools are using repositories to collect and provide open access to law school publications and faculty scholarship, including Duke Law Scholarship Repository launched in 2005.  However, the publication system for journals in law is quite different than other disciplines consisting primarily of student-edited journals published by law schools, making the incentives and barriers for OA somewhat different. You might think that law school published journals would be more likely to adopt OA models, but this has not yet generally been the case.

Duke Law School has been a leader in electronic publication of legal scholarship and active promotion of open access to legal information. In 1998, Duke Law made the full content of articles published in its student-edited journals freely available on the law school’s web site. The journal editorial boards were early adopters of the Open Access Law Journal Principles with a commitment to practices of free, neutral access, and requiring minimal licensing rights so that authors control further dissemination of their works.

The Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship calls for US law schools to stop publishing their journals in print format and to rely instead on electronic publication with a commitment to keep the electronic versions available in stable, open, digital formats. A workshop at Duke Law School exploring issues and best practices for law journals to consider as they move into electronic publishing entitled Implementing the Durham Statement: Best Practices for Open Access Law Journals is scheduled during Open Access Week on October 22.

Where to be during OA week in the Research Triangle

From Rick Peterson, Deputy Directory of Duke’s Medical Center Library, comes this calendar of the events held at Duke and at UNC Chapel Hill for Open Access Week 2010:

Tuesday, 10/19 2-3:30pm Duke Breedlove Room, Perkins Library

Open Access at Duke:  Why here, why now?

Learn more about open access and how you can get more reach for your research.  Join colleagues for a short presentation and discussion about the new open access policy and support for it at Duke, and how it will impact you.

Speakers:  Paolo Mangiafico, Tim Pyatt, Kevin L. Smith, James Tuttle

Thursday, 10/21 9-11am Duke  Perkins Library, Room 217

Open Access Publishing

A panel will talk about their experiences with open access publishing and its impact on scholarly communications.

Speakers:  Melanie Dunshee, Duke Law Library; Mohamed Noor, Professor, Department of Biology; Mira Waller, Project Euclid; Bora Zivkovic, Scientific American; and Kim Steinle, Duke University Press.

Friday, 10/22 9:30 a.m. -5 p.m.  Duke Law School, Room 4047 [registration required]

Implementing the Durham Statement:  Best Practices for Open Access Law Journals

Sponsored by the Duke Law School J. Michael Goodson Law Library and the Harvard Law Library:  A Workshop aimed at student law review editors, designed to present and discuss best practices for law journals as increasing numbers move into electronic publishing.  The workshop is also open to law librarians, law review advisors, and all others interested in open access and legal publishing.  It will be webcast and promoted to all ABA-accredited law schools.  For more information and to register, please see the conference Web site: Registration is free, but required.

Monday, 10/18 10:30 – 12:00 a.m. in Wilson Library Pleasant’s Family Assembly Room UNC

“Visualizing Copyright: Debunking Open Access and Copyright Myths about Film and Visual Media.”

Monday, 10/18 1-2:30 p.m. in Wilson Library Pleasant’s Family Assembly Room UNC

UNC “Carolina Digital Repository: A collaborative and flexible model for the preservation of scholarly output”

Speakers: Erin O’Meara, Electronic Records Archivist, UNC and Michele Hayslett, Data Services Librarian, UNC

Tuesday 10/19 1-2:30 p.m. in 205 Undergraduate Library, UNC (for Library staff)

ISC webinar and discussion on “Broader Library Involvement in Building Programs—Librarian Training and Development” is part of a series on “Reshaping Scholarly Communications – Strengthening Programs through Collaboration” from the ARL/ACRL Institute for Scholarly Communications.  Join Library colleagues for webinar and discussion. For more information, please visit

Why Open Access is important to Duke

By Paolo Mangiafico

In the series of blog posts on open access over the past few weeks, leading up to international Open Access Week in late October, we’ve been writing about a number of different aspects of open access to scholarship, as a kind of introduction for those who may not be familiar with them. But why are we so interested in open access at Duke University? And what are we doing to promote open access here?

The key reason we’re interested in supporting more open access to scholarship is that it helps support the goals and values of universities, and Duke’s goals and values in particular. Duke’s strategic plan says that one of our key goals is to apply knowledge in the service of society. Currently, much of the knowledge produced by Duke faculty is published in venues with limited distribution and often very high subscription rates that preclude access by many who would benefit from reading it. Making the research freely available to anyone with Internet access helps to increase the potential number of readers, and opens up possibilities for more people to make use of and build on the research being done here.

We also expect to see benefits for the researchers themselves and the institution. Every author wants to be read, and hopes their work will be widely read and cited, and will be influential. Logically it makes sense, and there are a growing number of studies that indicate this, that research that is more broadly available is read more often and cited more often. So more openness helps increase the reach and impact of Duke scholarship, which not only helps contribute to the scholarly community and society overall, but also helps raise the profile of Duke scholars and Duke University.

We also recognize that the scholarly communications ecosystem is in transition, based partly on the wide availability of new technologies and partly on the changing methods and workflows of scholars, publishers, libraries, and the broader communities they serve. By supporting open access initiatives locally, we’re also contributing to more systemic changes in the scholarly communications ecosystem that may help it align better with the values of universities as noted above, and may also provide incentives for innovations that could enable new kinds of discoveries as well as help make the costs of supporting the ecosystem more sustainable. We recognize that these are things that Duke alone will not be able to change, but for broad change to happen many different actors will need to move in concert, take some risks, expend some resources, shift some incentives, realign some rewards.

We’re not just supporting open access at Duke, in other words – we’re also supporting the open access movement. At the same time we want to be cautious that any disruptions are not destructive to things that still have value, so the steps we’re taking are carefully considered, developed through discussions and collaborations with key stakeholders at Duke and our partners, and with an eye on the effects of our actions as they play out.

In an interview with last spring (from which some of the above text is taken) I expanded on a number of these issues, and refer you to that for more discussion about why open access is important to Duke and to scholarship more broadly.

What are the things we’re doing now to help promote more open access at Duke?

A growing list with details is available at the Open Access at Duke web site but, in brief, here are the key initiatives:

– adoption of a policy that sets the default to open access for all peer-reviewed journal articles published by Duke faculty. Kevin Smith will be writing more about the policy in this space soon, and for now you can learn more from these articles from Duke Today around the time of the policy’s discussion and adoption in spring 2010.

– removing barriers to publication in open access journals by providing financial support to Duke authors through a fund aligned with the Compact for Open Access Publishing Equity (COPE). More details about Duke’s COPE program are available via this news story from earlier this week about the launch of the fund and from the Duke COPE web site.

– providing open access to legal scholarship via the Duke Law School’s Scholarship Repository, and open access journals, and advocating for new access models via the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship and the work of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain.  An event titled “Implementing the Durham Statement: Best Practices for Open Access Law Journals” is scheduled for Open Access Week.

– support for open access awareness and participation by the Medical School’s library guides to Open Access and  NIH Public Access policy, as well as through their organization of Open Access Week activities.

– making open access the default for theses and dissertations by Duke graduate students, via the Graduate School’s ETD program and the DukeSpace repository.

And in development are a program to support open access journals published by members of the Duke community (using the Open Journal System platform) and explorations of more open educational resources (see the discussions from the spring Center for Instructional Technology Showcase and “edupunk” Jim Groom’s blog post about Duke) as well as broader accessibility to datasets produced in Duke research.

If you’re at Duke, we hope you’ll join us at the Open Access Week events being held on campus (see the sidebar of the Open Access at Duke web site page for details) to learn more and show your support for open access, and if you’re not at Duke, look for OA week events near you, many of which are listed on the Open Access Week site.

Open Access, NIH Style

From Virginia Carden, Administrative Research Librarian, Duke Medical Center Library:

The NIH Public Access Policy was conceived as a way to ensure the public’s access to published research results and increase the research impact of NIH funding.  With the increasing costs of journal subscriptions, many researchers, as well as patients and members of the general public were finding it more and more difficult to have access to articles on cutting edge research in medicine and science.   The Public Access policy requires that NIH research-results, funded with tax payer dollars are available to clinicians, researchers, patients, and others across the United States and the globe.

Starting April 7, 2008 all NIH-funded investigators were required to have a copy of their accepted and peer-reviewed manuscript submitted to PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine’s full-text database.  In addition, the manuscript becomes available to the public as soon as possible but no later than 12 months after the journal article is published.   Duke has a website that provides more details about the policy as well as resources to help Duke authors comply with the requirements. There are now thousands of freely accessible articles in the PubMed Central database as a result of this policy.

So what is the difference between open access and public access?  Public access primarily focuses on information and publications funded with tax-payers’ dollars by local, state and national government agencies.  In the case of the NIH policy, only those journal articles, whose research has been funded by the government, become publicly accessible, while the rest of the content may never be freely accessible.

What next?

Now Congressional leaders, as well as librarians, scientists, and consumers are considering whether other federal agencies should follow the NIH public access model.  Several bills have been introduced over the past few years along with a roundtable and hearing to explore the issues.  Here are other sites you can visit to learn more about public access activities at the national level:

For more information, see the Open Access at Duke web site.Open Access logo, designed by PLoS

Funding and Author Support for Open Access

By Adonna Thompson, Assistant Director of Duke Medical Center Library for Archival Collections and Services

In a previous post we discussed the different models for open access, which provided examples of the partnerships and relationships between authors and publishers. It also touched on funding models. In this post I hope to give the reader with a more in-depth understanding of funding issues by providing links to relevant articles, websites, and additional resources.

Funding is a major issue when it comes to publishing within, and sustaining an open access model. Open access journals don’t charge subscription or access fees to users, but publishing does cost money. So, who should pay?  The Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity or COPE provides insight and a possible solution to this issue:

Josh Hadro states the problem succinctly in his Library Journal article, “Five Universities Sign Open Access Funding Compact.”

“It’s hard to bootstrap a new industry model into existence, even in the best of times. And no matter how compelling its conceptual underpinnings may be, open access publishing is subject to the same economic realities as any other kind of publishing.“

So far, it appears that the most viable and sustainable model for funding open access publishing is through institutional support.  The challenge has been, and will continue to be, getting buy-in from our institutions.  Though, several major research institutions and organizations have signed the compact for open-access publishing equity and this is a large step in helping to create a sustainable business model for open access.

Articles and Resources:

ARL:  Reshaping Scholarly Communication

Funding Scientific Open Access

PLoS Biology – Essay: Funding the Way to Open Access

Society for Scholarly Publishing – the scholarly kitchen blog:

Why the Open Access Financial Model Will Continue to Transmogrify

PLoS Biology – Perspective Article: Institutional Open Access Funds: Now Is the Time

BioMed Central’s major funders of biomedical research

The economics of open access

When we talk about the economics of open access, the conversation usually begins with the high cost of traditional journal subscriptions.  For a nice summary of the argument that the economics of journal pricing is out of control, this portion of the ACRL toolkit on scholarly communications is an excellent resource.  But that is only the beginning of the discussion.  There is a lot more to say about open access economics.

One great source to grasp the nuance of the issues is a 2009 issue of the journal Economic Analysis and Policy, which itself made the transition from toll access to open availability under a Creative Commons Attribution license.  A special issue of the journal was dedicated to the economics of open access; the full contents are linked to this blog post, which make finding them much easier.

I can especially recommend the first two articles in this special issue of EAP.  John Willinsky does an excellent job in “The Stratified Economics of Open Access” of analyzing traditional publishing market segments and looking at how each is experimenting with open access.  Conley and Wooders, in “But what Have you Done for me lately,” ask the very basic questions about what publishing an academic article should cost and what the most economically efficient model for scholarly communications might look like.

As I said, the conversation usually begins with high journal prices.  Open access is not a solution, per se, to the problem of journal costs, but it is a solution to the access problem that is created by skyrocketing prices.  For most academic authors, the issue of how much publishing really costs and how much of a university’s budget is actually going into shareholder value at Elsevier or Informa is very much secondary.  Their concern is how to get their work into the hands of those who need it and might be able to use it.  High subscription costs prevent that access and thus reduce the impact of scholarly work.  That is the problem that new models of distributing scholarship, most of which are forms of open access, can solve.

As Conley and Wooders’ article makes clear, open access is not free in the sense of being without any costs, although consumers of open access articles do get the information they need without charge.  Open access models are really about ways to streamline and redistribute the costs of publication so as to solve the access problem that is becoming so severe in the traditional system.

When we talk about the economics of open access, there are two factors that we should not forget.  First, the are costs, known as lost opportunity costs, associated with traditional publishing that are recaptured by open access.  Every time a researcher or teacher cannot get to the information she needs to do her work, or must obtain it by labor-intensive means like interlibrary loan or direct contact with the author, time and knowledge, which are both worth money, are wasted; open access reduces that loss.  Second, open access provides the benefit of greater impact to the scholarly authors of articles made accessible through the various OA models.  This benefit for the authors, like the benefit to the reader of quick and toll-free access, increases the overall value of research.  When we examine the economics of open access, the increased value of the research itself must be part of the equation.

For more information, see the Open Access at Duke web site

Faculty support for Open Access scholarship

As we publish a series of posts in this space about open access in preparation for Open Access Week from October 18 through 24, it seems like a good time to interrupt ourselves and note three recent articles in which faculty authors express support, in a variety of ways, for open access to scholarship.

The most extensive and most provocative of these faculty comments about open access is the article by Professor Gloria Origgi about the responsibilities of scholars and the changing world of access.  The focus of her essay seems to be the need to move past the slow and antiquated system of traditional scholarly publishing.  There is a rather tongue-in-cheek post about her article called “Let’s Stop Publishing Research Papers” in a Chronicle of Higher Education blog, and the full paper, titled “Epistemic Vigilance and Epistemic Responsibility in the Liquid World of Scientific Publications,” is here (abstract is freely available while access to the full paper requires a subscription).

A recent blog post by Duke’s Cathy Davidson extends the discussion of open access publication, without actually mentioning the term, as she considers whether blogs should “count” in tenure and promotion reviews. Davidson’s conclusion, that blogging is a kind of “service” that is indeed a valuable part of the review of the work of scholars, is, to me, a new perspective on an often-debated topic that really advances the conversation.

Finally there is this short and simple appeal from law professor Rebecca Tushnet asking candidates for academic jobs to post their work in an openly accessible forum in order to make life easier for hiring committees.  Tushnet is not advocating for radical change in the academic job market, as Origgi and Davidson arguably are, but simply wants aspiring scholars to use the available means of digital access to make it easy for those who must evaluate them to find it.

For more faculty comments about the benefits of open access, see the short videos embedded in this web page on Open Access at Duke University.

Open Access and the Metrics of Scholarly Impact

By Paolo Mangiafico

No one likes to be judged, and there are plenty of reasons to be wary of quantitative metrics being used to try to paint a complete picture of the value of an individual’s work. Yet things like publication and citation counts, “impact factors” of particular journals, the amount of grant dollars a researcher is bringing in, and other measures you can easily ascribe a number to are commonly used to gauge research activity and impact.

New methods and venues for publishing scholarship and tracking how it’s being used have kept the debate bubbling on how research impact can or shouldn’t be measured.  To get a sense of some of the issues, you could start by reading a piece titled “Scholars Seek Better Metrics for Assessing Research Productivity” from the Chronicle of Higher Education last year or the Nature special section on Metrics from earlier this year, including the comments from readers at the end of some of these articles.

This post isn’t going to wade into that broad debate. Since the focus of this series of blog posts is open access, let’s look at how open access is affecting metrics that are commonly used now (specifically, citation counts) and how open access might become the basis for new ways of measuring scholarly impact.

For some years now, the Open Citation Project has been maintaining a bibliography of studies measuring the effect of open access and downloads (‘hits’) on citation impact.  This bibliography has links to and summaries of studies going back about a decade, as well as rebuttals and debates about some of them. In general most of the studies tend to show that, compared to toll-access venues, making publications available via open access leads to greater impact, as measured by number of citations. In an earlier blog post on open data, I mentioned a study that showed similar effects for the data underlying the publications.

Some publishers are now providing metrics on use of and references to research on an article-by-article basis. For example the Public Library of Science journals provide article level metrics that include pageviews and downloads, citation counts from scholarly literature, social bookmarks, blog references, and comments, notes and ratings on articles in the PLoS site. Clearly, any such metrics cannot stand on their own as a pure indicator of value, but a basket of these indicators can provide a more comprehensive picture of trends around how research is being used and referenced.

Metrics like these are likely to become increasingly important as new models for scholarly publishing, including open access, become more common. In an opinion piece from 2007 in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled “The New Metrics of Scholarly Authority” Michael Jensen ruminated on how scholarly metrics and judgments about authority and value are changing in a world of information abundance, due to new technologies and publishing modes. He argues that “authority 3.0” will be based on a variety of heuristics computed through openly available data. He concludes by saying

“… if scholarly output is locked away behind fire walls, or on hard drives, or in print only, it risks becoming invisible to the automated Web crawlers, indexers, and authority-interpreters that are being developed. Scholarly invisibility is rarely the path to scholarly authority.”

For more information, see the Open Access at Duke web site.Open Access logo, designed by PLoS