Open Access Week: Some Current Trends

This week is Open Access Week (October 22nd-28th, 2018)! A lot has happened in Open Access in the past year so I will try to encapsulate the latest trends. Why care about Open Access? Our former CUA colleague, Marian Taliaferro, Digital Scholarship Librarian at the College of William and Mary explains why in 5 Reasons You Should Care about Open Access.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of Open Access, the term refers to “the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open Access ensures that anyone can access and use these results—to turn ideas into industries and breakthroughs into better lives.” (SPARC*).  The Open Access movement has been around for years but the public declaration began in 2002 with the Budapest Statement on Open Access Publishing (2002; 10th anniversary statement in 2012), followed closely by the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (2003) and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access (2003).

For a current understanding, see the following video:



New Publishing Models?

The Author Publications Charges (APC) model is not working. Other transactional models need to be explored. Sven Fund writes in the Scholarly Kitchen about the evolving structure of open access author pay models to one where there are still operational challenges to open access. OA2020 is another initiative that has gained prominence recently. OA2020 advocates for accelerating the change to an Open Access business model. OA2020’s mission is to eventually move subscription journals to an open access model based on a paper published by the Max Planck Digital Library in 2015 demonstrating that there is enough money in the journal publishing ecosystem to permit a transition to open access. Written by Ralf Schimmer, Kai Geschuhn and Andreas Vogler and titled “Disrupting the subscription journals’ business model for the necessary large-scale transformation to open access,” the paper outlines the steps the global community would need to take for the transition.

Institutions who want to be involved in the OA2020 can sign an “Expression of Interest” and scholars can advocate at their home insitutions.  College and Research Libraries News has an article focusing on U.S. academic institutions. Rachael Samberg, Richard A. Schneider, Anneliese Taylor, and Michael Wolfe, in their article What’s Behind OA2020?, ask why only five U.S. insitutions have signed on so far.

Another point Fund makes that is worth considering pertains to academia and libraries in particular:

The other key element, at least in some parts of the world, is the internal structure of the library. It not only follows the interests of faculty and students, but (at least in Europe) it also quite often has its internal professional rules. The slow dissemination of OA is a vivid example of how stability in the academy comes with a lot of disadvantages. Libraries find it hard to shift budgets more radically, in part caused by the fact that they became addicted to easy solutions like the Big Deal, that in turn tie up a large part of their budgets. APC funds fit the scheme: They are easy to decide upon, and their existence appeases those advocates on campus that would like to see more alternatives.

There is a push for having all research papers funded by funders made open access. In Europe this move was announced on September 4th by Robert-Jan Smits, the Open Access Envoy of the European Commission, and Marc Schiltz, the President of Science Europe.  Plan S is to ensure that by 2020 all research papers arising from European funding are made open access immediately on publication. An interview with Robert-Jan Smits outlines some of the elements of the plan, including problems with Plan S — pushback from publishers AND researchers, no perceived role of institutional repositories, and contrary to principles of academic freedom — are some of the issues discussed. Plan S is not the first call for changing research assessment. The Leiden Manifesto and the UK report “The Metric Tide” were both released in 2015 and essentially went nowhere. A paper on the Leiden proposal titled “The Leiden Manifesto Under Review: What Libraries Can Learn From It” was published in 2017.

Sally Rumsey, head of Scholarly Communications & RD at the Bodleian Libraries at Oxford University, has noticed a change in the researchers themselves:

I detect a more subtle culture change that is happening at the grass roots i.e. by the researchers themselves. To disseminate your research in the past, it was necessary to follow the standard traditional publishing route – publish in a respectable journal and those people who have paid can read your paper – plus you can post a few copies to your mates. Today, in order to get your research noticed and ‘out there,’ there are many more options available. The ‘standard’ route is being enhanced, and many researchers don’t want to be confined to a single model, or to limited sharing of their work. Open Access: reflections on change. Many are taking advantage of the diversity that the internet offers: how research findings are presented and distributed, such as articles with integrated data, open commentary to published findings, new models of peer review and comments, registered reports, and rapid publication. Add to this the immediacy of promotion by social media, academic networks, and altmetrics scores that can give rapid indication of one type of impact. In some disciplines, particularly the sciences, authors are becoming frustrated with continuing barriers to access and re-use as they habitually adopt a more open stance. There remain some areas of confusion and mistrust of OA, but I detect a definite sense of acceptance of and shift to ‘open.’

Rumsey goes on to write that libraries have set up services for supporting open access research initiatives. ORCIDs are one such attempt in the discovery and dissemenation of research through the use of unique identifiers. Another article from the Scholarly Kitchen focuses on libraries: Libraries Face a Future of Open Access. Read the comments too!


Open Source Platform for Data by Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee is working on an open source platform for data called “Solid”. One response to his work is titled “A Critical Review of the Solid Platform.”


Open Educational Resources

UNESCO defines Open Education Resources as:

any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation.

OER is moving forward albeit slowly.  A year-end article by Mike Silagadze in EdSurge talks about 2017 being a pivotal point in OER adoption: “OER Had Its Breakthrough in 2017. Next Year, It Will Become an Essential Teaching Tool.” He writes that that three key tests will need to be met: OER content quality needs to improve, OER needs bells and whistles, and OER needs to be easier to find and adopt.

For more information on this movement in general check out these sites:

SPARC’s Open Education

UNESCO Open Educational Resources

Affordable Course Content and Open Educational Resources SPEC Kit (2016)

OASIS – Openly Available Sources Integrated Search (OASIS) is a search tool for making the discovery of open content easier. OASIS currently searches from 66 different sources and contains over 164,000 records. OASIS is a project developed at SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library with consulting from Alexis Clifton, SUNY OER Services Executive Director.


Open Data and Academic Institutions

Christine Borgman, Distinguished Professor and Presidential Chair in Information Studies at UCLA, gave a lecture on October 9, 2018 titled “Open Data, Grey Data, and Stewardship: Universities at the Privacy Frontier,” at Harvard University. Borgman sees the growth and availability of digital data resources collected by universities as a balancing act between academic freedom, stewardship, trust, privacy, and confidentiality, on one hand, and the value of using this data for science and commercial ends:

Researchers provide open access to their data as a condition for obtaining grant funding or publishing results in journals, leading to an explosion of available scholarly content. Universities have automated many aspects of teaching, instruction, student services, libraries, personnel management, building management, and finance, leading to a profusion of discrete data about the activities of individuals. Many of these data, both research and operational, fall outside privacy regulations such as HIPAA, FERPA, and PII. Universities see great value of these data for learning analytics, faculty evaluation, strategic decisions, and other sensitive matters. Commercial entities, governments, and private individuals also see value in these data and are besieging universities with requests for access.



Borgman, C. L. (2017, November). Open Data, Trust, and Stewardship: Universities at the Privacy Frontier. The 10th Annual BCLT Privacy Lecture, Berkeley, CA. Retrieved from

Borgman, C. L. (2018). Open Data, Grey Data, and Stewardship: Universities at the Privacy Frontier. Berkeley Technology Law Journal33(2), 287–336.


Advocating for Open Access

There are a number of ways to promote Open Access:

1. Join The Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions (COAPI) and advocate for OA at your insitution.

2. Publish in Open Access journals. How? See the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

3. Advocacy Organizations for OA. Worldwide directory.

4. UNC Health Sciences Library: Open Access and Scholarly Communications: Advocating for OA

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