Open Access: What is it and why does it matter?

Attention students, faculty, staff, and administrators: Do you know about Open Access and how it relates to all of us in the UB community?

“Open access (OA) is a worldwide movement wherein full-text scholarly articles are completely free and unrestricted to all users to read, copy, download, and distribute over the World Wide Web.”
(Western Carolina University’s Glossary of Library Lingo)

Specific interest groups, including the scientific research community and academic librarians, have been grappling with OA issues for years. Increasingly, however, conversations about open access are occurring across departments and divisions on college and university campuses. All members of the UB community have a vested interest in being aware of the issues associated with access to scholarly publications, including faculty who publish in peer-reviewed journals to further scholarship in their fields and advance their careers, librarians who acquire and provide access to these publications in print or online, students who use these resources in the pursuit of education, and administrators who make policy and budgetary decisions.

For a quick and entertaining introduction to the OA movement, check out this video: Open Access Manifesto. Peter Suber, an Earlham College philosophy professor turned OA policy strategist, provides a more comprehensive overview.

Want to see some OA journals? The Directory of Open Access Journals will connect you to thousands of scholarly and scientific journals which are available in full-text for free. Browse the DOAJ’s listings (currently 4570 journals!) by subject category.

Open access issues are currently making news headlines as a result of the Obama administration’s interest in public access to taxpayer-funded research. The President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy is currently hosting a Public Access Policy Forum on its blog, and the deadline for comments and responses from the public is extended through January 21st, 2010.

If you’d like to know more about the OA movement, you’re in luck — there’s a wealth of information available through the web. Here are a few highlights:

The Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook
Are you a student? Administrator? Researcher? OASIS has customized information for each of these categories based on what type of user you are.

Open Access in 2009: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
This blog post by Richard Poynder is exactly what it sounds like — a year-end review about all things OA.

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition
SPARC is a one-stop shop for news, articles, videos, and links about the effort “to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system.”

ACRL’s Scholarly Communication Toolkit
The Association of College and Research Libraries created this toolkit as “an educational resource primarily directed to librarians,” but it provides useful overviews of interrelated issues, including authors’ rights, journal economics, open access archiving, and new models of publishing.

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