Category Archives: Copyright

Open Access

By Justin Daras, Reference Librarian

Imagine if every student could write a paper on the topic of their choice, and every faculty member could develop new courses and conduct research, never having to worry if the library had full-text access to articles on any topic? What if traditionally marginalized fields like LGBTQ, Women’s, and Latino & Latina Studies—to name a few examples—could expand the scope of their scholarship by reaching broader audiences, increasing their citation impacts, and eliminating the costs of providing access to their subject-specific journals?

This is not a far-fetched fantasy about making the cost of scholarly journals affordable. It is about engaging with a movement called Open Access (OA) that could make these scenarios real by making journal articles free to access. Walt Crawford, in his report “Open Access: What You Need to Know” (2011), defines OA as literature that is “available online to be read for free by anyone, anytime, anywhere—as long as they have Internet access.” This does not mean authors are not compensated for their work or copyrights are violated. Open Access means that scholars remove financial barriers for readers by publishing in journals that make articles free for anyone to access. Open Access allows the same peer-reviewed process employed by many pay-to-access journals—so the academic record can continue, as rigorous as it is now, but for everyone to read.

Traditionally, authors, such as Framingham State’s professors, conduct research that they may or may not be paid to do (funded vs. unfunded research). Authors then write scholarly articles examining their work, and submit them to journals that conduct peer-review. The peer-review is also typically done by other scholars for free. The journals then process, promote, and publish the articles, and then libraries pay to access the journals. The cost of subscribing to these journals is the reason why when you search our library’s databases, you cannot get full-text access to every article. We simply cannot afford to pay for everything. No one does, not even Harvard or MIT. And this is why OA is such an important idea.

There are barriers to transitioning to OA that students should know about. First, academic inertia puts pressure on scholars to publish in certain high impact non-OA journals in order to qualify for tenure—publish or perish. Second, there is sometimes a perception that because OA journals are free, they may be less desirable than pay-to-access journals—a paradox of value. Third, as OA is a relatively new movement, there may not be a journal specific enough for a given subject area—a catch-22.

We encourage students to educate themselves on OA, and how it affects their ability to study and make the university a diverse and academically challenging place to be. The library publishes a research guide on Open Access that covers many resources. The Right to Research Coalition website also includes information for students, student government, and professors. We urge Framingham State students, faculty, and administration to make Open Access a priority on campus.

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October 14 is Open Access Day!

Celebrate Open Access Day! For those who are not familiar with the Open Access movement, Open Access usually refers to literature that is digital, online, free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. Here is a good introduction: http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/brief.htm

  • Why does Open Access matter to me? As a Reference and Electronic Resources Librarian, I help students locate the research they need. We do not have a large budget for e-journals, so subscribing to quality, relevant research is paramount. Students could care less about embargos and subscription contracts; what they care about is finding what they need, when they need it. So if the library cannot afford to purchase an expensive subscription and a student is aware that a college nearby carries the journal, the student has the option to go to the other institution or place an interlibrary loan request.
  • How did you first become aware of it? I became aware of the open access movement when I became involved with managing e-journals.
  • Why should scientific and medical research be an open-access resource for the world? There is an ethical and moral component to this question. Not only research should be free but research should be available to everyone particularly those in the scientific and medical community. Whether it is a scientist researching for a cure for cancer to a young women who was recently diagnosed with cancer and is looking up information on Medline, research should not be difficult to access. Access should be transparent and seamless.
  • What do you do to support Open Access, and what can others do? Librarians should support Open Access by launching an institutional repository, publishing an open access journal and insisting to publishers that the stop charging high prices for their journals.

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Welcome to the Henry Whittemore Library Blog!

The librarians at Framingham State College’s Whittemore Library would like to welcome you to our blog.

Our goal is to post relevant information to assist you in your academic pursuits and also to make you aware of issues relating to technology, librarianship, and copyright.

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Filed under Copyright, Courses, Librarianship, Technology, Uncategorized