We are midway through Open Education Week, and today’s post will examine Open Access broadly.
Open can be confusing. With terms like Open Access, Open Education, Open Educational Resources, Open Source, and Open Science among many others, it’s easy to get a bit confused. However, what underpin all ‘Open’ concepts are copyright and the sharing of information.
Perhaps you are wondering what copyright is exactly? Basically, copyright is a set exclusive rights for authors which grant them legal control over who can use their work and in what ways. Licenses are terms which allow authors to transfer or forgo all or some of these rights, like in traditional book deals or article publishing. Creative Commons licenses are perhaps the easiest and most transparent way to license content and ensure a wider audience for your works now and in the future.
Sometimes we forget that we live in a transitionary period between print and digital media technologies. Publishing models from the first scholarly journal onward were tied to print technology and the materials and labor costs involved with advertising, reviewing, typesetting, printing, and distributing scholarly works.
Open Access arose out of the revolutionary potential of networked digital computers. Instead of waiting for their works to appear in print journals, scholars began sharing their papers with each other via email. By the 1990’s, having websites that host these preprints allowed for greater and more organized sharing. Arxiv.org (pronounced ‘archive’) was one of the first of these repositories.
Open Access journals allow for rigorous peer review, sometimes replacing the infrastructure supplied by commercial publishers with their own internet platforms. While there are many economic models for Open Access journals (and repositories), their goal is to provide immediate and free online availability to readers.
Instead of being tied to a Closed Access system of the past, we can embrace ‘Open’ as a means to share high quality scholarship more widely, equitably, quickly, and collaboratively. Open Access is currently helping fight the Coronavirus, and Open Access articles are cited more than their traditional counterparts.
There is much more to the story, and perhaps this article raised more questions for you than it answered. The Touro College Libraries are here to help you navigate these issues. Checkout our guides on Copyright, Research and Scholarship, Creative Commons, and Open Educational Resources to get started, and contact us for any help you may need!
This post was contributed by Tim Valente, Scholarly Communications Librarian.