Happy (belated) Open Access Week!

4051820019_32c0390472Last week was OPEN ACCESS WEEK.

I will spare you my own description of what open access is, since a quick Google search will give you both definitions and opinions from publishers, universities, and advocates alike. One of the most charming (and simultaneously informative) descriptions of open access publishing is illustrated by Jorge Cham, creator of PhD Comics, and can be found HERE.

Most of the resources you’ll find will be about open access to peer-reviewed research articles, but open data and open access to community college are other significant issues that fall under the “open access” umbrella. Let’s stay on track, though, and stick to discussing open access publishing.

Opinions on the subject range from open access journals will weaken and tear asunder the very fabric of scientific communication to open access publishing is the only way to fight the evil, fat cat, corporate, money-hungry publishing industry. Sure, I’m being a bit glib, but you’ll have already noticed that information about open access publishing rarely comes to you free of some strong statements about what you should think. It also comes along with a lot of jargon, and in a world where technology is changing quickly, so the options for publishing are, too.

As I was trying to decide the best home for the paper that came out of my master’s thesis I felt really conflicted, wanting to make sure it was in an open access journal to show my support for open access to published research. But my understanding was suffering from “the myth of ‘gold’ open access” (number 1 in this article from The Guardian. I thought that for a paper to be openly accessible, it had to be published in one of the many open access journals . Many fully open access or mixed-model (in which the authors [but not really the authors, see #3 in the Guardian article] pay extra publishing fees to have their paper openly accessible in an otherwise paywalled journal) publishers charge fees that can be hard to cover without some built-in funding. For example, Ecosystems, the Springer journal where my paper was published, charges a $3000 fee to publish an open access paper . This cost was out of our price range.

Luckily, though, “green” open access makes it easier for those of us without the explicit mandate and funding to openly publish our work. Green open access refers to publications that are delivered through some sort of repository . Duke, for example, has a repository for works published by its affiliates called “DukeSpace”. Usually, although journals retain the copyright to the work you publish there, they allow for you to make the work available through some sort of repository like this one. Potential readers can then find the paper through a link on your web page, a search of the repository, or a link indexed by Google Scholar.

The amount of science being generated every year is increasing and more and more of it is open access; in fact, we recently passed the point at which more than 50% of published scientific papers are now freely available online. So keep on publishing, and keep on making them openly accessible!