Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Usefulness of Open Access, or Yet Another Positive OA Cycle

Many faculty members are currently encountering one of the sillier disadvantages of the toll-access approach in the internet-based world. That is, the decreasing usefulness of articles with the restrictions of licensing. An article that one might have put on reserve as a print copy, or handed out in class as print, without a second's thought, may well be forbidden, or much more complex to provide, in the online environment.

Librarians, this is a teachable moment! An article that is truly OA as per the Budapest definition, CAN be placed on e-reserve or distributed in coursepacks, either as a link, or as the full content of the article - with attribution, of course, but with no frustrating, time-wasting and often costly process of obtaining permissions, or dealing with the complexities of authentication or re-authentication to connect student with article.

For example, no permission at all is needed to link to each and every article in the latest First Monday, a special issue devoted to papers arising from the First International PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference.

In such a situation, the simplest, most fulfilling, and lowest cost solution may be, after searching for an OA copy, is for the teacher (or librarian) to contact the author and ask whether self-archiving might be a possibility.

For that matter, the more we promote resources like DOAJ, OAIster, Scientific Commons, etc., the more faculty will see for themselves this particular benefit of OA. This can only increase the tendency for faculty to want to seek out OA resources, and publish OA themselves - a positive cycle.

Why Yet Another Positive Cycle? Because the first potential positive cycle is OA through article processing fees decreasing subscription costs, freeing up funds for more article processing fees and other OA support, and so on.

Any opinion expressed in this e-mail is that of the author alone, and does not reflect the opinion or policy of BC Electronic Library Network or Simon Fraser University Library.

Heather Morrison
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

This blogpost was originally posted to ERIL-L, Scholcomm, the SPARC Open Access Forum, and CACUL-L, on October 29, 2007

It should be noted that even with print, there are differences in generosity to the user with 'Fair Use' in the US, and the more restrictive 'Fair Dealing' in Canada and the UK. Even with Fair Dealing, however, there are often greater restrictions with electronic than print.