Scholarly Communications & Open Access
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Open Access At Western Libraries
Open Access is the outcome of making research and scholarship freely and openly available to any user, which comes with a number of benefits. Reduced publishing costs, adherence to Western's mission , and increased readership and citations are all benefits that come from publishing open access materials, in addition to the reduced costs for students who are required to obtain the material.
Scholarly Communications FAQ
Scholarly Communications, or the scholarly conversation, refers to the way in which research and scholarship is created, disseminated, and reused. This process is simplified in the illustration below.
This is a continuous process, where new research and scholarship builds on that which has been previously created. This cycle of interconnected processes encompasses individuals, such as researchers, instructors and students, institutions like Western, and organizations and corporations such as scholarly societies and publishers. In this cycle, researchers and scholars use previously published research as the starting point for new research, writing articles and books detailing their research, which scholarly societies and publishers make available, and university libraries then purchase access to that research so researchers and scholars have access to that information.
This is not a traditional economic process, but one that is disjointed and allows publishers to act as monopolists. The reward system in academia for partaking in the publication process isn’t connected to the publishing process. When researchers and scholars submit their articles to journals for publication, they do so for free. Instead, academics are rewarded for their work through the recognition inherent in the tenure and promotion process. This disconnect breaks down in the university library, as publishers then sell those research materials back to the university and library—typically at a markup far beyond traditional inflation. For example, Elsevier had a profit margin of 36% in 2010 (source), higher than companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon in the same year. (In 2020, RELX—Elsevier’s parent company—reported a margin of 29.2%. [source])
It is important to note that this has been going on for decades (source), while library budgets—including Western Libraries’ budget—have remained flat or nearly so. This continual increase in journal pricing, which has been called the Serials Crisis, continually decreases the libraries’ purchasing power. Which ultimately results in the loss of access to materials, and has led to a greater interest and activism around Open Access to research.
The Scholarly Communications Program at Western Washington University Libraries comprises a robust array of activities designed to educate, promote, and support the use of academic, scholarly, and creative materials and activities within the University community. Specifically, this program aims to educate students, staff, and faculty around the issues of copyright and open access; support authors and scholars throughout the scholarly publication process; educate and assist in maintaining an author / scholar brand; and provide unique and impactful services to the community through Western CEDAR.
This work is informed by the values and mission of Western Washington University, Western Libraries, and that of the open access movement -- to provide access to research and scholarship in an open, inclusive, and equitable manner. The services provided by the Scholarly Communications Program include:
- Western CEDAR, WWU’s Institutional Repository, highlights and shares freely and openly the research, scholarship, and creative works of Western’ faculty, students, and staff. More information about Western CEDAR, the materials included, and how to add you or your students’ works can be found at the Western CEDAR About and FAQ pages.
- Copyright education: including consultations, training opportunities, and workshop offerings for courses are available. This includes building greater understanding about your rights as an author, using copyrighted works in the classroom, and using and building upon copyrighted works in the creation of your own.
- Consultations about Open Access, understanding what open access is and isn’t, what the different types of open access are, and what options are available for making your work open access.
- Consultations about Open Educational Resources: where to find OER, how to vet OER, how to create your own and how to share them once you do.
- Publishing support for your research, scholarship, or creative work. Including assistance in locating and vetting publication options, understanding publication agreements,
- Support for data management and sharing.
For more information about the Scholarly Communication Program, or to partake any of these services, contact Jenny Oleen, the Scholarly Communication Librarian.
Approaches to Open Access
One of the easiest ways to pursue an open outcome for your work, is to publish as you typically would, in your journal of choice. But review the contract you’re asked to sign to determine what rights you retain as an author. Many journals will allow a version of the article, most often the penultimate version--that is the final peer-reviewed, revised version just prior to final typesetting for the journal--to be placed in an institutional repository such as Western CEDAR or a disciplinary repository like Arxiv or AgEcon Search. These contracts typically use dense legal language, so feel free to contact the Scholarly Communication and Copyright Librarian for help deciphering them.
Another option is to publish in journals that are Open Access themselves, such as journals like the Journal of Educational Controversy or PLOS Biology. These journals work with an alternative business model to ensure that articles are published freely and openly, without subscription based barriers to access.
There are three variations of alternative business models used for Gold Open Access journals:
APCs, or Article Processing Charges, are a way to move the cost of publication from the readers/subscribers to the content creators/authors. This business model puts the onus on the researcher to make intentional decisions to publish their work open access and ensure they have the funds to do so, sometimes even before the research has started by incorporating such plans into grant applications. As such, the utilization of this business model is more predominant in BioMed (76% of OA journals have fees) and STEM (77% of OA journals have fees) (source), fields where grants are more heavily utilized for research.
While the hybrid article processing charge model can be used to make research open access, it is important to note that this is at the individual article level in otherwise subscription based journals. As such, an issue in its entirety is not OA, just the few articles that authors have paid the APC for. This has led to concerns about “Double Dipping” (source), as while publishers state that list prices are adjusted reflect the open access nature of some articles, the process behind calculating subscription prices, the utilization of “Big Deal” packages (including, oftentimes non-disclosure agreements to prevent sharing of package information), and behind the calculation of APCs are all opaque.
Just as some alternative business models place the fees for publication on the authors, the subsidized model looks even further afield for financial support. These journals are typically subsidized by other entities, such as universities or societies providing free platforms to the journals, or personnel donating their time to the journal. This business model is more predominant in the Humanities and Social Sciences (76% of OA journals don’t have author fees [source]).
It’s important to remember that Open Access is the intended outcome, with many different routes available to get to that outcome. What works best for some, may be untenable for others. Some authors may feel it is more important for their work to be Open Access from the outset, while other authors may feel it is more important for their work to be published in those journals recommended for tenure and promotion in their discipline. So long as the final outcome is Open Access, what matters most is for authors to choose the route that works best for them.
Other Common Questions
Western CEDAR, also referred to as just CEDAR, is Western Washington University’s open access institutional repository, part of an innovative global movement promoting open access to scholarship and creative works. CEDAR advances Western Washington University’s commitment to enriching academic inquiry and strengthening communities by sharing the expertise and creativity of its students, faculty, and staff. This work is informed by the values and mission of Western Washington University, Western Libraries, and that of the open access movement -- to provide access to research and scholarship in an open, inclusive, and equitable manner.
CEDAR is a service of Western Libraries, in partnership with the Graduate School, Office of the Provost, and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. Funding for CEDAR has been provided by the Gordon H. and Alice C. Fraser Endowment Fund for Equipment for the Sciences.
More information about Western CEDAR, the materials included, and how to add you or your students’ works can be found at the Western CEDAR About and FAQ pages.
If you have additional questions contact the CEDAR team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Western Libraries is happy to work with you to make your thesis digitally available in Western CEDAR, our institutional repository, so it is widely available and can be used by anyone in the world.
Please reach out to us at WesternCEDAR@wwu.edu if you are interested in having your thesis digitized. We will send you a copy of an updated non-exclusive license agreement that will need to be signed in order for us to have permission to digitize and distribute a copy of your thesis. This non-exclusive license agreement will not preclude you making your thesis available in any other manner. Once we've received a signed copy of the agreement (scanned and emailed back is fine), we will add your thesis to our digitization queue.
We will email you once your thesis is available in Western CEDAR. From there, you can download it to have it reprinted, share the file, share the link to the file, or distribute it however else you see fit.
Please email WesternCEDAR@wwu.edu if you have any other questions.