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Open Access and Scholarly Communications: Busting OA Myths

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Myth #1: Faculty can freely use their own published content

Myth #2: Articles in Open Access journals are not peer-reviewed

Myth #3: Open Access is just a way for libraries to save money

Myth #4: Open Access and Public Access are the same

Myth #5: Open Access does not work as an economic model

Reusing your own published work

Myth #1: Faculty can freely use their own published content in courses they teach.

Myth Busted

  • This is often not true. If you transferred your copyright to the publisher at the time of publication, as most authors do, the publisher may restrict your right to re-use the content in teaching and publication.

Remedies

  • Publish in an Open Access publication so that everyone immediately and always has free access to your work
  • Publish in a journal that allows you to retain the rights you need to re-use your own work in teaching and publication
  • Negotiate the specific rights that you need at the time of publication.

Resources

Open Access journals have lower quality articles

Myth #2: Articles in Open Access journals are not peer-reviewed, are of lower quality, and are the equivalent of self-publication.

Myth Busted

  • Scholarly Open Access journals follow peer-review procedures similar to other scholarly journals.
  • There are many high quality Open Access journals. PLoS Biology's impact factor of 12.5 ranks it as #1 in 86 in the Journal Citation Report's biology category. BMC Biology, impact factor 5.2, is ranked #8.
  • There is some scholarly debate over whether Open Access increases citation counts. There is also ongoing debate over whether citation counts should be the only measure of research impact.
  • It is now possible to measure article views and downloads. Davis (2008) found that Open Access articles were accessed more frequently than traditionally published articles in the same journals.
  • PLoS recently added article level metrics (article usage and citation counts) for each article to increase the transparency of impact measures.

Remedies

  • Judge the quality of Open Access journals and articles the same way you would any other, by reading the content.
  • Consider the impact of  Open Access articles' demonstrated increased usage when you choose where to publish.

Resources

Open Access is just cost shifting

Myth #3: Open Access is just a way for libraries to save money by shifting the cost of scholarly publications to authors and funding agencies.

Myth Busted

  • The price to purchase scholarly publications increased well beyond inflation for more than a decade. Library budgets are stressed, but librarians do not promote Open Access as a solution to a budget crisis. They promote Open Access as a new publication model that fosters increased access to research information. 

Remedies

  • Provide increased institutional funding to support and explore the impact of Open Access publishing.
  • Support other models that increase access to scholarly publications such as institutional and subject repositories.

Resources

Open Access and Public Access are the same thing

Myth #4: Open Access and Public Access accomplish the same goal by making information freely available.

Myth Busted

  • Only Open Access makes information freely available at the time of publication.
  • Public Access, as implemented through PubMed Central and mandated by the NIH Public Access Policy, allows publishers to prevent open access to articles for up to one year.
  • Public Access, as envisioned by the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), will allow publishers to prevent open access to articles for up to six months.

Remedies

  • Publish in Open Access journals to provide immediate free access to your work for everyone.
  • Comply with the NIH Public Access Policy on all articles published since April 2008 that were derived from NIH funding by depositing in PubMed Central to provide open access to the author manuscript after the embargo period as set by the publisher.
  • Lobby for FRPPA and encourage legislators to keep the publisher's embargo period as short as possible.

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Resources

Open Access does not work as an economic model

Myth #5: Open Access does not work as an economic / business model for scholarly publishing.

Myth Busted

  • Open Access does seem to be working as a business model for a number of important science-techincal-medical journal publishers, for example, BioMed Central, Hindawi and PLoS.
  • It is important to remember that Open Access journals do not have one business model, for example they do not all charge author fees. The Journal of the Medical Library Association is an example of an Open Access journal with no author fees.
  • Recent research by Houghton (see link below) found that the author pays model would provide a net benefit over time.

Remedies

  • More professional association and society publishers should study the options and impacts of moving their journals to an Open Access model.

Resources