Tag Archives: Open Access Week

Open Access Week 2014: A State of the Movement Address

“When the world is running down…”

Lately in library-land there’s been quite a lot of belt-tightening as stagnant budgets are confronted with rising journal and database subscription costs. Although libraries are reaching more people with more content than ever before, the feeling is that this is fiscally unsustainable. Cracks have appeared in the current “big deal” agreements – much like the bundles cable consumers are offered – libraries have entered into with large aggregate database publishers. As a result, libraries have had to cut subscriptions to journals and whole databases. Even Harvard, one of the best-funded universities in the United States, in 2012 publicly decried the situation and has felt the need to weigh in on the rising costs.

open access logo

The internet itself has been a boon and a bane — a disruption-slash-copy machine — that provides new models while destroying old ones and places a strain on a copyright law that is woefully behind the times.

Traditional industries that dealt primarily with the amalgam of content and containers – i.e. print book and print journal publishers, music producers and distributors (mostly as LPs, CDs, and cassettes), film producers and distributors (mostly as features, VHS, and DVDs), have all altered their business models as new digital media have decoupled the content from the container. The result is e-books, PDFs, mp3s, and various online streaming services that now dominate the web in terms of popularity as well as actual volume of data transferred.

Yet this decoupling of content and container is a double-edged sword as well. The journal publishers were the first to truly test this model of decoupling content and container through the online journal databases that were developed in the 1990s and 2000s. This experiment in removing the container has resulted in both widespread distribution (for subscribers) and widespread content restriction. Restriction has occurred in various ways, including the curtailing of readers rights (i.e. pay per view), copyrights (i.e. publishers assume control of the author’s rights), posting rights (authors can’t publish their drafts), and the like. The irony is that we are often looking upon a feast that’s stuck behind glass walls.

Additionally, to ensure the necessary scarcity, publishers have taken hardline stances on the continual ownership of scholarly output, even if it is long out of date. The result of the uneven relationship between scholars and publishers has been the large-scale transferal of intellectual property from individual scholars and the tax-paying users who ultimately fund their universities into the hands of specific private enterprises. This transfer occurs at the expense of the public good and the original intent of copyright law as written in the US Constitution, which is “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

Open access provides a much-needed antidote to these developments. While copyright law provides the necessary protections for creators, its overall history of expansion shows instead that distributors gain the most from longer and stricter copyright regulations and enforcement.

As Paul Heald has demonstrated in his studies, the hole in our culture has also provided us with a world that may be running down in terms of an individual’s ability to create new works and access fairly recently published ones. More works in various editions are available from 1914 than are available from 1964. We are now a society that denies itself access to its own culture. Open access may be one of the few avenues left to reclaim it especially while the public domain remains frozen for the next several years. Shamefully, no new works will enter the public domain in the United States until 2019.

“…You make the best of what’s still around”

California contributes to the OA Movement

The state of California has helped to lead the way in the open access movement for the past several years. The most recent development in open access occurred just a few weeks ago. The California legislature passed Assembly Bill 609 entitled the California Taxpayer access to publicly funded research Legislation. This bill stipulates requires that any published research funded by the California Department of Public Health be available to the public within 12 months of its publication.

Open access has become adopted widely across the California higher education system as well. The CSU Council Of Library Directors recently provided their public support for AB 609 http://libraries.calstate.edu/open-access/.

Additionally, the entire University of California system in the summer of 2013 agreed to a system-wide open access mandate that requires UC faculty to submit open access versions of their works into the UC’s institutional repository.

Closer to home, CSUN’s president Dianne Harrison in August 2013 became a signatory to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access, an international agreement among numerous European and American Universities and organizations. Later, in November 2013, CSUN’s faculty senate passed a resolution (PDF) recommending CSUN faculty to publish their scholarship in open access. Though this is purely an opt-in (i.e. voluntary) approach to open access, nearly 70 faculty members at CSUN have already agreed to have their scholarship submitted to CSUN ScholarWorks Open Access Repository (SOAR). While there are approximately 850 full-time, tenured or tenure track faculty at CSUN, we believe this represents a good first step toward increased participation.

Open Access week (10/20-10/26/2014, everywhere!) & the first CSUN Open Access Award

To help foster greater participation in open access the Oviatt library is also proud to announce its very first Open Access Award. The presentation will be held on October 23, 2014, and will be awarded to Professor Susan Auerbach for her work in helping to pass the CSUN resolution. We also have a special guest speaker from the Public Library of Science (PLOS), Donna Okubo, who will provide information on the open access movement, OA publishing, and her role in guiding the supporting coalitions for AB 609.

bird with the word soar

Where we go from here: “SOAR with us.”

The ScholarWorks Open Access Repository (SOAR) is dedicated to improving access to CSUN-related scholarship by attempting to remove the price and access barriers to academic publishing. There are multiple ways in which the movement is branching out toward increased open access. The first is recruiting content from the creators themselves: the faculty. SOAR’s Scholar Spotlight program focuses on the scholarship created by CSUN faculty. Our staff examine faculty CVs to determine if a publication can be added into ScholarWorks. Once we receive the proper clearance, copies of a work are deposited into SOAR. The faculty profile collections permanent links to the works provide a solid digital preservation as well as ensure perpetual access.

CSUN Open Access Journals

Another significant development is the creation of new scholarship. While the Scholar Spotlight program focuses on past and external work, CSUN Open Journals project focuses on developing new content. New journals and new knowledge are the future for the open access movement. Focusing on the direct open access publication of new works will likely be the best step toward a more sustainable and widespread open access movement.

While it is certainly a goal to make sure that all public-funded and supported scholarships be available to the public, the obstacles are incredibly high. The restriction of rights by the copyright owners – not usually the writer, but often multi-national corporations – remains one of the main obstacles to full open access. Additionally, the agreements that faculty enter into, especially tenure-track faculty with a lot at stake, need to be reevaluated at not only department levels but also at campus-wide and even system-wide levels. This will take much time. However, there is strength in numbers. The more faculty members who are able to assert their rights to retain copyright, the healthier the relationship will become.

All Roads (Gold / Green / Platinum) Lead To OA

Multiple paths lead to open access. The most first and most common has been the Gold road to OA, aka open access journal publishing, which is funded partly by Article Processing Charges (APCs). Most of these charges can be covered through grant funding, especially if a grant funder (such as the NIH, NSF) requires open access publication. There are notable open access journals that are leading the way within specific disciplines. Currently, the so-called “hard sciences” are the leaders in this movement. Several journals and publishers cater to these disciplines. To find more, visit the Directory of Open Access Journals.

So how open is it, really?

For more information about the openness of journals, be sure to examine PLOS’s How Open Is it? Open Access Spectrum (OAS) guide. This examines the various factors that determine a journal’s openness. Some journals which purport to be open access are really just hybrids existing somewhere in between true open access and restricted access.

– Andrew Weiss

The Copyright Conundrum and the Need for Open Access

Open Access logo 2013

I. Intro: Until the Elephant Vanishes

“Yeah, yeah, yeah / There’s a hole in my life.” – The Police

To mark the 6th Annual Open Access Week (cf. OA FAQs) I would like to discuss the very large elephant in the room:  copyright. It’s everywhere and impacts almost everything we do.  Everyone, from authors to users to publishers, has got a stake in copyright, too, yet few people will agree on whether it, in its current incarnation (70 years + life of an author), is entirely positive or negative.

Copyright has long been touted as the sine-qua-non incentive for authors, artists, musicians and scholars to create new and lasting cultural materials.  Without its protections, the reasoning goes, authors will not be inspired to create new things and culture will diminish as a result. This de facto monopolization of creative works — potentially lasting for more than a century — is further justified by publishers as necessary for their artists to make a living, even as the very same businesses tout the tenets of free markets, competition and Draconian cost-cutting measures.

Such is the copyright conundrum until the law changes.

II. The Hoarding of Dragons: Denying our Own Culture to Ourselves

So what happens when copyright protection becomes too long or too restrictive? What happens when the public domain (i.e. works that all can use freely) is purposefully shrunk? What happens when publishers and corporations – by far the largest owners of copyright – sit on works like dragons hoarding treasure?  

What happens when we cannot access our own culture?

The clearest answer can be seen in the following graph, taken from a study conducted by Paul Heald at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  This chart shows how publishers and copyright owners are not, contrary to their reasoning, fostering culture and creativity, but are instead stifling it:

New Editions from Amazon by Decade

New editions of previously printed books are but a small aspect of creative culture, this is true. However, the implication of this study is that publishers are less likely to be publishing new versions of out-of-print books between the 1920s and 1990s (a period of 70-80 years) unless it is financially viable. There are currently more new books available of works originally published in the 1910s than there are in the 2000s, and just as many books in the decade of the 1910s as there are from the 20s through the 80s. As some have suggested, the 20th Century has fallen into a black hole.

While it is understood that publishers are businesses and must act in ways that ensure a healthy bottom-line, it has also been a tendency of publishers to stifle the publication of works that might actually be valuable to smaller, though less-profitable, audiences.  Furthermore, if after 10 years 50% of copyrighted works have no market value (after 43 years it’s 90%; 65 years it’s 99%), leaving their rights in the hands of publishers to reprint them based on market forces is a sure recipe for letting them sit untouched.

The growing hole in our accessible culture, as evidenced above, subsequently puts more pressure on the institutions that exist to help preserve such materials for the sake of creating new knowledge: i.e. the non-profit universities, libraries, archives, historical societies, et al. If publishers are unwilling to reprint older editions of works due to the risk of copyright infringement, memory institutions like ours are forced to spend more time, effort and money on ensuring that they remain accessible to all.

III. The digitization, democratization (& monetization) of culture

The next logical step to ensure access and preservation has been to digitize these works and, when permitted, place them online. The added value of the digitization process allows more people to access more information than ever before. It has the potential to level the playing field for those with disabilities or poor access to institutions of learning. People have touted this as the great democratization of information and culture. In some ways this is correct, provided that it’s available where you live and you have at least some money to afford an internet connection.

The dream of this universally accessible library with everything stored within it for all is an ancient one, spanning back to the famed library of Alexandria. Some contemporary projects such as the Internet Archive, Wikipedia, Google Books, the HathiTrust, Public Library of Science, Library of Congress are attempting to realize these ambitions.  But the dream is not attainable.

Publishers have dominated this digital content with the creation of online journal databases since the 1980s and 1990s.  The monetization of past content in these online journals — much of it scholarly in nature & most of it transferred in terms of copyright to the publishers — has served to close off complete accessibility to all but the richest of organizations.  Libraries usually provide this content to their users at no cost and so the actual expense of these resources usually remains invisible to their users. But as recently as 2012, Harvard university, one of the richest universities in the world with an endowment of approximately $30 billion, has expressed concern that current price gouging of database aggregators is “fiscally unsustainable”.

If Harvard’s hurting, we’re all hurting.

IV. The United Colors of Open Access & “No Whammies, please!”

One of the proposed solutions to this growing amount of inaccessible content is the open access movement.   Open access comes in many colors, including Gold (Journals that fund publishing via Article Processing Charges [APCs] to authors), Green (usually institutional repositories holding pre-prints or post-prints of research), and the lesser-known Platinum (benefactor or organization pays APCs).

Open access allows users to access content in perpetuity without having to worry about whether the works can or can’t be used.  Copyright restrictions still will generally apply (i.e. you can’t wholesale copy and paste the work and then try to resell it), but for the sake of academic disciplines, scholars allow their work to be read and re-used. This increases the likelihood of their being cited, and further increases their impact factor.

As seen in the graph below, from a 2004 (Brody & Harnad) and 2005 (Hajjem et al.) study, open access was found to increase the amount of citations of one’s work:

Open Access increases citations chart

Other studies confirm these results as well.

Overall, open access has the ability to improve scholarly communication, but from an economic point of view access is not profitable for publishing companies. Publishers, acting as the middle-men in this case, want to restrict access as a way to increase revenues. Generally, this is a reasonable economic approach. In the face of demand, restricting supplies can help to increase prices and profitability.

However, in the case of publicly funded research it becomes absurd. Publicly-funded institutions are essentially providing the space and resources for research only to be forced to buy such research back when the results are published. A “double whammy”, so to speak.

Some may say that these institutions can afford it or that the publishers provide the types of services (i.e. editing, formatting and peer-review procedures) other cannot, but this misses the point. What we have is essentially a publishing industry subsidized by the public.  As for providing peer-reviewing procedures (one of the publishing industry’s main justifications for their practices), it should be remembered that publishers also do not pay peer-reviewers.

OA is seen as the best antidote to these unfair practices.

V. CSUN’s place in the Open Access Movement – Internationally, Regionally and Locally

CSUN is part of the growing OA movement in several ways. First, internationally, due to President Harrison, CSUN is now a signatory of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access, an international agreement now entering its 10th year implemented by the Max Planck Society.

CSUN Oviatt Library Dean Mark Stover is also helping with supporting the California State California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act (AB 609) a bill designed to mandate the public access of state-funded research.

Tell Senators to Vote image

AB 609 would allow Californians access to the scholarship that has been locked away in databases behind expensive pay walls.  No longer would we be denied access to our own culture that was funded by us in the first place.

Finally, CSUN’s Faculty Senate will be voting on a campus-wide resolution calling for CSUN faculty to publish their work in open access venues, or archiving such work in CSUN ScholarWorks. As for ScholarWorks, it has doubled in size in ten months. It will double in size again by June 2014 to 6000, making it one of the more sizable repositories within the United States. When we reach 10,000 items we will likely be one of the top 50 or 60 institutional repositories in the US, as tracked by the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR). For now ScholarWorks will continue to grow and help the cause of open access for the foreseeable future.

VI. Conclusion: Atlas shrugs or shrugging Atlas?

It remains to be seen if works from the 20th century will become more accessible again in our lifetime.  As long as libraries exist and do not discard books that are out of print, our works can be recovered and preserved. Google Books and the HathiTrust Massive Digital Libraries (MDLs) are still digitizing copyrighted works, including contested orphan works. Perhaps these initiatives will help to alleviate some of the problems associated with the hole in our culture, provided that the publishers are cooperative. However, the tendency of the Author’s Guild to litigate in the cases against both Google and the HathiTrust suggests otherwise.

Yet, new content is necessarily based on old findings. Innovation does not arrive without a reliance on past models. As Newton famously stated, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Unfortunately, given the current copyright situation, it is the giants who are standing on our shoulders.

Open access can at least provide us with some much needed relief.

Andrew Weiss


The Oviatt Marks Open Access Week

Open AccessInternational Open Access Week:

Today marks the beginning of the 6th annual Open Access Week “celebration.” Starting on October 22 and ending on October 28, the week will be filled with various awareness-raising events across the country and the world to publicize and explain what Open Access does.  At the Oviatt Library we are also raising awareness of Open Access Week by highlighting it in this blog, providing FAQs about Open Access Week and ScholarWorks, by showcasing our Open Access initiative Scholar Spotlight, and by providing a Twitter feed of important information and issues related to Open Access, Copyright and the state of academic publishing.

But why? What’s all the fuss about Open Access? Why should any of us really be that concerned about it?

Generally speaking, as academics, scholars and former students par excellence, we faculty members have been extremely successful in our research. We have been able to make a career of turning curiosity into a virtue and translating our internal visions into reality through our scholarship and creative works. As exemplars of lifelong learning, we are fortunate to have the freedom and institutional encouragement to go wherever our intellect and curiosity take us.

However, on the opposite side of that coin we have also, as part of the RTP process, felt the external push to publish and share our work regardless of the costs. Therein lies the rub.

One of the main casualties of this mix of external and internal motivation has been the relinquishing of copyright control of the very work we create. I am as guilty of this as anyone. While recently signing the copyright agreement with a publisher of an upcoming peer-reviewed journal article, I felt the tension of internal motivation to share my work and the external push to avoid jeopardizing its publication at all costs.

I was of course elated to have my work accepted by a well-respected journal in my field. At the same time, it was dampened by the realization that my work was now, once I signed over my copyrights, no longer in my control. Despite all the effort I took to devise my study, write the draft, and revise it according to uncompensated peer-reviewers, I was still required to relinquish my rights of ownership to the work. All the effort was mine and the peer-reviewers. Yet the publisher reaped the financial and intellectual property rewards, while I was left with a citation for my PIF and a free copy of the article (which I could NOT post online or distribute without their permission).

This is not an isolated event. Tenure track faculty are especially vulnerable to these practices because RTP values publication to such an extent that we are often afraid to jeopardize the publication process. We all want to have long and prosperous careers in our chosen disciplines. Publishing is one of the requirements for this. But at the same time, is this not a ruinous situation in the long-run when the very work and ideas that we generate (often funded by public institutions) becomes the property of proprietary interests?

The result of this one-sided relationship has been immense increases in the cost of accessing the intellectual output of whole segments of academia.  The Oviatt library, for example, is currently unable to provide access to CSUN’s own locally edited and published journal The California Geographer because the database company that hosts it, namely EBSCO, has increased prices to the point that we cannot afford top-tier access. The California Geographer is part of this top-tier access. There is truly a problem when a publicly-funded university is unable to access the very scholarship created by its own faculty, partly because a publisher is exploiting policies created by the university itself.

Below are two charts that show the stark contrasts: on one hand journal prices rose 114%, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 31%, while library expenditures in American Research Libraries dropped from 3.7% of a total university expenditures to just below 2%.

Open Access Chart 1

source: http://www.library.ucsf.edu/help/scholpub/journalcosts

Open Access Second Chart

source: http://www.arl.org/stats/annualsurveys/eg/index.shtml

Obviously this spells trouble. These trends are unsustainable, even to the Harvards and Princetons of the world. That is why Open Access has been presented as an antidote to the currently ruinous and dysfunctional academic publishing environment.

On a positive note, more and more publishers are starting to cooperate with the Open Access Movement. Major research institutions such as Harvard and Princeton have each developed mandates to ensure Open Access for the scholarship created by their faculty. Many disciplines, especially in Biology, Physics, and Mathematics, have embraced Open Access as the publishing model of the future.

Finally several Federal grant providers, including the NSF and NIH, have also begun to mandate Open Access for all publications stemming from their funding. The result is that Open Access is here to stay and will help to ensure that publicly funded scholarship remains accessible to the public.

Andrew Weiss