26 March 2013

Feature: Open Access - Part 1: General Information

The Research Councils UK (RCUK) has crafted an Open Access policy that is due to come into effect on 1 April 2013.  While clarifications are still being sought and uncertainty remains, universities have begun to prepare their scholars for the inevitable transition (see, e.g, Oxford University's Open Access web pages).

I am not an Open Access (OA) expert, an academic or even in the UK, so I am not in a position to provide advice!  UK-based researchers seeking specific guidance on how to proceed post-April 1st will be able to use the currently-under-development SHERPA FACT resource.  In the interim, though, I thought it might be useful to highlight other resources already out there that can shed greater light on OA, particularly with respect to some of the terms introduced in the RCUK policy.

For starters, this is how an RCUK-compliant journal is defined:

"Currently – a journal is compliant if it allows the author to deposit a peer-reviewed version in a 3rd party repository [Green] within RCUK timeframes (we await confirmation – currently thought to be 12 months for scientific papers, apart from biomedical which remains at 6 months, and 24 months for Humanities & Social Science publications), or it allows immediate open access (Gold) with CC-BY attribution – normally this requires payment of an APC." (Source: Oxford Univ; bold added to highlight key terms which are elaborated on below)

So there are two ways to make your work OA:

1. Publish in an Open Access journal (Gold OA):
- To find a list of OA journals, visit the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
- While there, you can browse journal titles by the type of Creative Commons license that they use (note that  the RCUK policy has expressed a preference for CC-BY; more info. about licenses is available on the CC site).
-  You can also browse by the type of publication fee they charge, if any (note that most OA journals do not collect "Article Processing Charges," or APCs; see also this blog post from Peter Suber.)

An aside:  To learn more about some of the other business models used for Gold OA besides APCs, visit this page in the Open Access Directory (OAD).  One model is referred to as the "Hybrid OA Journal."  This is when a journal publishes a mix of non-OA and OA articles, with an APC charged for the latter; an example in the forced migration context is the Journal of Refugee Studies, which is included in Oxford University Press' Oxford Open initiative: Articles will be made OA with a payment of $3000.  (To my knowledge, only two JRS authors have used this route.)  Other "Publishers with Paid Options for Open Access (Hybrid OA)" are listed here.

2.  Deposit an eprint version of your article in an OA repository (Green OA; also referred to as "self-archiving"):
- If you are an academic researcher, your institution very likely already has a repository; alternatively, a repository may exist that collects the output of your given discipline or subject focus.  To locate both, check the Directory of Open Access Repositories (openDOAR) or the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR).
- Examples of forced migration researchers who self-archive are here and here.
- Note that the RCUK definition above requires deposit of a peer-reviewed version of an article; as Peter Suber notes, "most conventional or non-OA publishers give standing permission for author-initiated green OA" for postprints (that is, "the text approved by peer review, not...the published edition,... [i.e. the] version of the text, without any subsequent copy editing, and without the journal's pagination or look-and-feel").
- Here is an example of what a postprint looks like.
- To determine whether your journal or publisher offers this standing permission, either visit the specific journal web site or search in the SHERPA/RoMEO database.  Using the Journal of Refugee Studies as an example once again: Its self-archiving policy is provided here, on the JRS site, and here in SHERPA/RoMEO.  It stipulates the following: "Authors may upload their accepted manuscript PDF ('a post-print') to institutional and/or centrally organized repositories, but must stipulate that public availability be delayed until 24 months after first online publication in the journal."
- This 24-month delay is referred to as an embargo period, or the Green OA "timeframes" in the RCUK policy quoted above.  As Oxford University notes, the actual duration of these time periods must still be confirmed, and will vary by disciplinary focus initially.  Ultimately, though, the RCUK seems to be aiming for no more than a six-month embargo period for all Green OA articles.
- Some publishers give permission to authors to deposit the final publisher's PDF in repositories; for a list, visit this page on the SHERPA/RoMEO site.

These are the basic concepts.  For much more information, check out the following:
- How to Make Your Work Open Access
- Open Access Overview
- Open Access: A Tale of Two Tables
- Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook

Tomorrow, I'll post information about specific forced migration journals that can be used to make your work either Gold or Green OA.

Tagged Publications and Web Sites/Tools.

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