The week of October 22 – 28 is the sixth Open Access Week, a global event highlighting the movement to take advantage of the potential of the internet to change the traditional, closed, unsustainable system of publishing scholarly research to one that makes scholarly research quickly and freely available online and increases research impact. In the last few years, government and other research funding agencies, universities, researchers, students, and members of the general public have been learning about the benefits of Open Access, and supporting initiatives to move the scholarly publishing system in this direction.
What do we mean when we say that the traditional scholarly publishing system is closed and unsustainable? For decades, libraries and their institutions have been less and less able to keep up with the increasing volume and cost of scholarly resources. Scholarly journal subscription prices have long been increasing at rates far greater than either general inflation or university and library budgets. These increases have led to repeated journal cancellations in libraries, and to journal expenditures increasingly displacing budgets for the purchase of books. At the same time, the move to electronic publishing has changed the terms on which these materials are acquired, often being governed by licenses that restrict how content can be used and shared among researchers and libraries. A related issue is the increasing market control exercised by a few large publishers through acquisitions and mergers, and the bundling of these titles into expensive packages. All of these trends have put pressure on small society and university press publications, which can no longer afford to publish works with limited markets. They also mean that faculty everywhere, but especially at smaller institutions, have shrinking access to the full realm of scholarship in their disciplines.
The Open Access (OA) movement has spawned many possible responses to these trends, all with the goal of making scholarly information available online, free of charges or other barriers to use, such as proprietary publishing platforms. One response is a movement to encourage authors to retain their copyrights and establish a Creative Commons license where the author controls the usage rights. Publishing and/or archiving your publications in an Institutional Repository like the University of Missouri Libraries MoSpace, is one way of making your research more openly available. More commercial publishers are willing to allow authors to retain their copyrights and still publish in their peer-reviewed journals. One open access publisher is BioMed Central, with 200+ high-impact journals in medicine, biology, and chemistry. Articles published in their journals are published quickly, but only after stringent peer review, and are ensured maximum exposure because they are freely available online, and are included in PubMed, Google and all major bibliographic databases. According to their website, BioMed Central journals receive 20 million page views per month, and more than 58 million articles were accessed last year. The UMKC Libraries have had a membership to BioMed Central for just over one year, and our BioMed Central home page highlights the more than 60 articles by UMKC faculty authors in BioMed Central, Chemistry Central, and Springer Open, many of which are “highly accessed.”
To celebrate Open Access Week, the UMKC Libraries are sponsoring the viewing of the webcast, “Perspectives on Open Access: Practice, Progress, and Pitfalls” will be shown on Monday (October 22), at 3:00 in Miller Nichols Library, Room 303. If you are interested in learning more about the open access movement, this will be a good starting point! If you are interested in learning more about open access, retaining your copyrights, Creative Commons licenses, or MoSpace, contact Brenda Dingley, Director of Scholarly Communications.