The increase of Open Access (OA), as a percentage of all peer-reviewed research articles, is not in dispute. There are even scientific studies on the rate of increase and its significance. Given the ascendency of OA, researchers and libraries must address some basic issues resulting from a movement that has no single, unified standard.
The Open Educational Resources (OER) phenomenon promises access to information with fewer barriers to academics, but the change will be disruptive. As Open Access has created turmoil among peer-reviewed journal publishers, OERs have similarly challenged curriculum. Learning content—from textbooks to course readings, assessment tools, and other material—was traditionally the domain of a few specialized publishers. However, with the advent (and dramatic proliferation) of digital content, traditional publishers have struggled to keep up.
What does fracking have to do with scholarly publishing and journal pricing? While the library financial landscape has improved since the depth of the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, it still cannot be considered robust. As articles such as this one chronicle annual serials price increases, libraries, publishers, and vendors search for innovative ways to fulfill information needs within the finite, predefined budget environment. New business and access models ranging from the initial e-journal big deal packages, article pay per view, open access, mega-journals, and publisher e-journal database pricing have evolved in response to the environment; libraries, publishers, and vendors have merged, consolidated, or disappeared along the way. Just as fracking keeps the oil and gas flowing, these strategies enable the current scholarly publishing ecosystem to extract the necessary resources—intellectual and financial—to survive.
As a reference librarian, I’m keenly following developments in the Open Access (OA) movement, because I (along with all of you folks also working with researchers) am aware of how journal and serial costs have gotten so large and burdensome to libraries that titles must be cut, and thus, access to important research is becoming ever more difficult for students, faculty, and other scholars around the world. So I was intrigued when I saw last June that Harvard Library’s Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC) had awarded a contract to three individuals—David Solomon, Bo-Christer Björk, and Mikael Laakso—to “write a comprehensive literature review on methods for converting subscription-based scholarly journals to open access.” The OSC calls this the “journal flipping project.” When I heard that the preliminary version of their report, Converting Scholarly Journals to Open Access: A Review of Approaches and Experiences, was available for public comment, I took a look at what it says.
Open Access publishing has led to a proliferation of peer-reviewed articles. Librarians and researchers have a more challenging task when it comes to finding what they need. It has never been a simple task to locate relevant information. Entire disciplines of library science are devoted to the complicated task of indexing and retrieving published findings. However, under traditional models, that process was relatively predictable.
As the first in a series of discussions about Librarians & the Changing Scholarly Environment, sponsored by Sage, we explored the Open Science initiative with Jill Emery, Collection Development Librarian, Portland State University, OR, and Robin Champieux, School of Communication Librarian, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). Readers will get a better understanding of how open our literature is today, the perspective of senior scientists, and how open science applies to aggregated databases.
A look at the EU’s newly announced Open Science Policy Platform, and the long-term implications of Open Science for librarians and other information curators. In this series, we’ll be examining the implications of Open Access (or OA) publishing of peer reviewed journal content on academic and public libraries. OA is of course part of a larger phenomenon—the movement to make science itself accessible to everyone. Like OA, Open Science (OS) has broad implications for those charged with the curation of knowledge.