Open Access Resources

>I am doing a presentation in one of my classes (Search and Discovery with Cliff Missen) about OA vs proprietary journals. In order to keep all the sources I use in one spot that students can access later on, I’ve compiled them into this blog post. Another bonus? LIS students (and everyone else) can use this post as a way to learn more about Open Access too!

Here’s the article I’m reviewing for the class:
The Importance of OA, OSS, & Open Standards for Libraries
Basically, the author discusses the benefits of ‘open’ models (Open Access, Open Source Software, Open Standards) for libraries. I chose it because it covers the basics without being intimidating, and is a good way to nudge those who are scared of giant, wordy research papers toward an understanding of the topic. What I like about it is it’s short and to the point (probably as long as most of my blog posts) and gives a great, easy-to-understand overview of how libraries can benefit from implementing OA and OSS into their day-to-day running.

What is OA?
Most of my readers probably know, but for my classmates who may not have spent much time with it I’ll give a brief description. Open Access publishing refers to a model that prizes accessibility over profits. Traditional publishing models have a lot of overhead (printing, large staff, advertising, etc) that translates to large subscription costs that are beyond the reach of most individuals and even most libraries. A good anecdote from our instructor: He met some folks from an African library (I can’t remember which country) who were excited to win a 2 year subscription to an academic journal database. They were so disappointed after 2 years to discover how expensive it was, because it meant they had to cancel that subscription and were not able to offer those resources to their patrons.
Open Access journals do not charge readers and keep all content online, so it can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection (not everyone has Internet, of course, but it’s a useful resource for those who do). Part of the reason this is possible is the lack of overhead associated with printing, and other options to reduce cost and generate revenue vary depending on the journal (B Sides, for example, is a part of the University of Iowa IR so we don’t pay for server space or tech support. We also don’t pay our editors, so we don’t have to generate revenue for salaries. For some other journals, revenue for server space, etc. is generated by charging fees to authors to submit. I personally think this should be avoided at all costs, but there aren’t many other options open if you operate outside a large research university). For another discussion of OA, check out Peter Suber’s page.

My Experiences with OA
You all know about my editorial experience, but I’m not sure I’ve talked much about my experience as an author. I have published one article in B Sides, and I have an essay in press at Library Student Journal. LSJ has a *much* larger editorial staff than B Sides, but the process is much the same: submit an article, it’s read by reviewers, returned for revisions, and if the revisions are up to snuff it’s published. What I love about publishing with OA journals is that I get a *much* wider readership than I imagine I’ve gotten in my other publications. I get monthly statistics emailed to me about my B Sides article, and it’s had almost 200 readers in less than a year. For a journal that’s just gotten off the ground and an article that probably 15 people would have read in a print journal, that’s pretty impressive. OA journal staff, being a part of a movement to change publishing, also tend to have their fingers in other projects and are open to new ideas. B Sides is throwing a conference on March 25th to teach students about presenting/attendance and to facilitate networking. LSJ tries to provide new resources to students whenever possible (including their recently launched blog).

Ways for Students to Learn More
Students can get involved in Open Access publishing through already-existing journals (including my perennial favorites, B Sides and Library Student Journal). If your department or school has a student journal, that might be another option. For students who want to publish outside LIS, check out the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) to see what’s out there. All journals provide opportunities to publish, although some also have openings for other ways to get involved by peer reviewing or serving on the editorial staff. It’s a great way to learn more about OA and it looks good on your resume!

List of Suggested Readings
I’m going to be compiling this over the next few days, so if you have ideas, please feel free to share in the comments!
100 Extensive University Libraries Anyone can Access
Gives some great resources for those without all the databases of a large research institution (or for those looking for resources not in those databases).
Blog dealing with Open Source and Open Standards.
Thomas Jefferson and OA
Thomas Jefferson did not know anything about OA, but this awesome quote by him has been circulated by enthusiasts.
The first Open Source American
Interesting article on how Ben Franklin’s approach to the creative process mirrors the Open Source movement.


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