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Open Access and Scholarly Communication

Advances in technology and the rise of the internet have in many ways transformed dissemination of the scholarly research literature. Without changing peer review systems or traditional journals, innovation and flexibility have been introduced into the publication process. Many university faculties have a vested interest in retaining some rights to their collective work in order to ensure the greater global reach of institutional research. Individual researchers seek some control over their research articles and are able to deposit copies in digital repositories. Often, researchers may find that Open Access increases research impact. Publishers and digital repositories have evolved over recent years to make this expanded access and reuse a reality, and funders and universities seek to develop policies that promote online visibility and accessibility of the scholarly literature on the open web. Worldwide support for Open Access has grown, and many scholars and universities support this movement. Often, the result of this faculty support is the formation of an Open Access policy.


"Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder. In most fields, scholarly journals do not pay authors, who can therefore consent to OA without losing revenue." (Peter Suber at http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/brief.htm)

Many universities and authors have become signatories of international efforts such as that of the "Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI)"which reads (in part): "The literature that should be freely accessible online is that which scholars give to the world without expectation of payment. Primarily, this category encompasses their peer-reviewed journal articles, but it also includes any unreviewed preprints that they might wish to put online for comment or to alert colleagues to important research findings. There are many degrees and kinds of wider and easier access to this literature. By "Open Access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited."( http://www.soros.org/openaccess/read)


There are two primary means that Open Access can be accomplished. These two "roads" to Open Access are often referred to as the "green road" and the "gold road." Authors can make their work Open Access by using the green road (archiving articles in a digital repository) or the gold road (publishing in an Open Access journal). Most publishers now allow deposit of article versions in digital repositories.

The green road refers to the use of digital repositories to archive articles and make them available online. An author's final post-peer review versions of articles (postprints) are easily and legally deposited in an institutional or subject repository during the usual publication process. Each article is preserved as a unique digital object, available free to researchers for reading and reuse, while requiring attribution as usual. Authors retain and control their copyrights while allowing their institutions limited license to make them available online. Journals and publishers are not harmed by the process of author self-archiving, but instead most permit authors to retain rights to final versions post peer review. Universities with policies provide all of the services and support to facilitate the process of author self-archiving.

There are two main types of repositories; institutional or subject/disciplinary. Institutional repositories ensure visibility of the university's scholarly output, making sure deposited materials are organized, permanent and secure. Persistent identifiers are supplied to each article for citation and sharing. Rutgers institutional repository, RUcore, facilitates faculty and scholarly deposit.

Subject repositories are already an important element of some disciplinary cultures. Well known subject/disciplinary-based repositories exist for physics and computer science (arXiv), economics (RePEc (http://repec.org/), biomedical fields (PubMed Central (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/), and social sciences (SSRN: Social Science Research Network (http://www.ssrn.com/), for example. Papers deposited in disciplinary archives can often also be archived in the institutional repository.

The second means to Open Access, the "gold road," is accomplished through the author's choice of publishing in an Open Access journal. Open Access journals from a variety of types of publishers produce articles that are free and openly available to readers on the internet. Open Access journals often differ only in business model while retaining the same markers of quality such as level of peer review or impact factor. Current trends show greater numbers of Open Access journals becoming available from a variety of types of publishers. Some traditional journals offer Open Access options for individual articles. There are many options for those that seek this "journals" route to Open Access.


Benefits of Open Access accrue to the institution, the author, and to researchers and readers worldwide. Open Access reduces price and permissions barriers, opening up more of scholarly literature to reading and reuse. For an article made Open Access, there is often a demonstrated citation impact, increasing "research impact." (http://opcit.eprints.org/oacitation-biblio.html) Institutional scholarship is more easily disseminated, raising the profile and visibility of a university's research. Many funders now mandate deposit (such as NIH, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Wellcome Trust, CERN, and organizations such as Autism Speaks), and now are moving to mandate deposit of research data generated with grant funding (NSF). Data could also be deposited at the time of publication of the associated article in an institutional repository. The research data on which the publication is based can be made openly available as well, if possible.