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Scholarly Communication: Open Access

What is scholarly communication? This guide serves as an introduction to open access publishing as well as a guide to facilitate scholarly communication and collaboration.

What is Open Access?

Important Articles

Read Barbara Fister's article in Inside Higher EdOpen to Change: How Open Access Can Work

Barbara Fister talks about the long and winding road to open access in Library Journal.

David Lewis has made a budgetary argument for open access:  Library Budgets, Open Access, and the Future of Scholarly Communication 

Open Access Publishing in Science in Communications of the ACM

Another Library Journal article on the philosophy behind open access

This article from The Guardian describes four simple benefits of open access publishing to the cause of academic freedom.

OA Models

The Backdrop

The 'serials crisis' is a phenomenon that has in recent years helped accelerate the open access movement.  While subscription prices have continued to rise far beyond the rate of inflation, the numbers of journals and researchers publishing have also risen sharply.  


the crisis is evident here:

Source:  ARL Statistics


library budgets have not been able to keep up:

Source:  ARL Statistics

Read more at  The Association of Research Libraries' official website.

Why Open Access? Here's Why!

Open Access in Less than 4 Minutes

by Natalie Ross & Anna Standish

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

For Administrators

What really happens when you open up access to the results of research?  Read this short report (opens a PDF file).

More information for administrators (from SPARC: Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition).

Faculty and Open Access Publishing

The Harvard Decision

Read this interview with Sue Kriegsman about Harvard's groundbreaking faculty resolution to formalize an open access policy for their scholarship institution-wide.  The movement began with the Arts & Sciences faculty but was soon adoped by faculty in Business, Education, Law, and Government.  Now all university scholars make their publications available for deposit into an open-access repository .. unless they opt out.

See the original policy adopted by Harvard's Arts & Sciences faculty in 2008.

Furthermore, Harvard's Widener Library is home to the university's Office of Scholarly Communication.

See also this Library Journal article on the central role the "library lab" is playing in scholarly communications at Harvard.

Finally, see what's new at Harvard's Innovation Laboratory at their law school library.

The Berlin Declaration

The Berlin Declaration recognizes the Internet as the worldwide mode of communication for and preservation of cultural and scientific knowledge, and as such recognizes the importance of making online content as widely and freely available as possible, recognizing also the commitment that is required of scholars and institutions in support thereof.


A Guide to commonly encountered terms in the Open Access and Scholarly Communications World (including trade names and acronyms) 

  • A&I database:  (Abstracting and Indexing) database that indexes journal literature, providing bibliographic citations and sometimes brief abstracts and links to full text.
  • abstract:  brief summary of an article or other authored work
  • access model:  method of providing access to journal, book or other literature.  Examples include subscription, open access (OA), partial OA (or hybrid), or third-party funded (such as govt agency or supported by advertising).
  • arXiv: largest open e-print physics archive containing over one million articles.  Also includes mathematics and computer science.  
  • athens login:
  • attribution:
  • author addendum:
  • author charges (or author-side fees, article processing charge, page charges)fees paid by potential authors to offset cost for printing, images, peer-review, copy-editing, online-hosting and other costs incurred by the publisher.
  • Big Deal: a subscription model where libraries or library consortia subscribe to all (or most) journal publications from a publisher for a substantially reduced price over individual subscriptions.
  • bibliometrics: a field of information science that seeks to analyze a body of literature quantitatively.
  • BOAI (Budapest Open Access Initiative):
  • born digital:  literature that appears online when first published, rather than appearing first in print and then converting to online
  • citation:  complete bibliographic details of a published work, including author, journal title, publication title, date, page numbers and DOI.
  • citation analysis: 
  • CLOCKSS (Controlled "Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe"): "a not-for-profit joint venture between the world’s leading scholarly publishers and research libraries whose mission is to build a sustainable, geographically distributed dark archive with which to ensure the long-term survival of Web-based scholarly publications for the benefit of the greater global research community."  Content no longer available from any publisher is made available for free in perpetuity under a creative commons license.
  • commercial publisher (see also for-profit publisher):
  • consortium: group of two or more libraries or institutions created by formal agreement in order to increase their individual purchasing power or share their resources.  (ex: OhioLINK)
  • content:  the complete text or part of a work, such as a complete article, book chapter, or book - regardless of format (print, online).  Can include media (such as video or music).  As distinct from abstracts, summaries, TOCs or citations.
  • copyright:
  • creative commons:
  • creative commons license:
  • dark archive:
  • delayed open access (or embargo):  when a (commercial) publisher allows an article to become available through open access means after a set period of time following publication.
  • derivative:
  • digital object identifier (DOI):
  • digital rights management (DRM):
  • discovery layer:
  • DOAJ: largest single online collection to-date of exclusively OA peer-reviewed journals.  Currently indexes over 6,700 titles from over 100 countries. 
  • DSpace:
  • dual-mode journaljournal that charges only for its print version (online version is free)
  • embargo (or see delayed open access):  online content that is held for a certain period before being made available for access.  The most current content is usually available only to paid subscribers.
  • end user:  consumer of journal or book literature.  Includes students, faculty, researchers and other library patrons.
  • fair use:
  • for-profit publisher:  commercial publisher that is in business explicitly to make a profit and support its workforce. Includes such giants as Elsevier.
  • format:   
  • FRPAA: act that would require 11 national government agencies with funding over $100 million (e.g, DOE, NSF, NIH) to make publicly available all research made possible by that funding.  Research results would be stored in digital repositories and be freely accessible by the public. 
  • full-text:  the complete text of an article or other work (essay, chapter, etc.)
  • funding model:  method by which online journal or other content is supported and made available to end users.
  • green road OA:  authors choose to self-archive their works, usually in an online repository
  • gold road OA:   journals originally published as freely available online
  • gratis OA:  "... articles (and other digital resources) that are readable for free online, but possibly no more than that." (definition per Walt Crawford's Open Access: What You Need to Know Now, p.15) 
  • grey literature:
  • Highwire Press:
  • Hirsch number (or h-index):
  • host:
  • hybrid OA: a publishing model where some articles in a journal are made available for open access.  Usually, this is at the author's discretion and for an additional charge to the author.
  • impact factor:
  • Ingelfinger Rule:  author fear that depositing preliminary version of article in OA repository will prejudice its later publication  
  • instance:
  • intellectual property:
  • (Journal Citation Reports) (JCR): established bibliometric tool scholars and researchers use to compare journal rankings and view citation activity (how much a particular journal is used and cited by others in the field)
  • journal platform (or see platform):
  • libre OA:  "... articles (and other digital resources) that have at least some additional forms of free usability beyond simple readability ..." (definition per Walt Crawford's Open Access: What You Need to Know Now, p.15)
  • license:
  • license agreement:
  • LOCKSS ("Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe"): open-source software developed at Stanford U., designed to allow libraries to manage and preserve their own digital content.
  • manuscript:  author's pre-published work.  Sometimes this work is made available online before or after the final published iteration.  If before, it is called a pre-print.  If after, especially if revisions are made, it is sometimes called a post-print. 
  • metadata:  data about data or information describing a digital object that resides with the object.  For example, a digital image file contains within it information about the size and format and other attributes of the image, such as date or origin.  This is metadata.
  • mirror site:
  • NIH mandate: see
  • OA mandate: formal institutional decision requiring or strongly encouraging faculty and researchers to deposit their work into an open access repository as a matter of course.  May also be a condition of external grant funding.
  • OASPA:  Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
  • OhioLINK ETD:  Electronic Theses & Dissertations (or ETD) is an open repository of theses and dissertations deposited by graduate students from universities in Ohio.  The ETD is maintained by OhioLINK, a consortium of library members which exists to maximize higher education library resources across the state.
  • OJS:
  • open:  (the Open Knowledge Foundation's definition)
  • open access (OA): a model of publishing scholarly literature in a format or on a platform that makes it freely available without cost for viewing and/or download.  Platforms or repositories may require individual users to register.  Some content or services may be at a premium.
  • open data:
  • open science:
  • open source:
  • overlay journal: online journal that points to existing content or metadata, somewhat like a digest. 
  • page charges (see also author charges):
  • peer review:  the vetting of a potential author's research or scholarly writing by volunteer peers in the author's field or discipline that checks for sound methodology, quality, and relevance.  Usually carried out by an objective process known as 'blind review'.
  • platform:
  • PLoS:  Public Library of Science.  "non-profit organization of scientists committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature freely accessible to scientists and to the public" (per PLoS website)
  • post-print: usually the version of an article that has had some revisions made to it, post-publication
  • pre-print:  usually the version of an article that has not yet been peer-reviewed, and sometimes not even yet submitted to a publisher (also called a manuscript).  
  • production:
  • protection:
  • publishing model (or see access model):
  • PMC (formerly PubMed Central):
  • registration:
  • repository (digital/virtual/online):  software platform storing research or other (usually) serially issued content, such as journal articles.  Repositories fall into two general categories:  Institutional repositories which store and make available the research, intellectual output and archives of an institution and disciplinary repositories (such as arXiv) which collect, organize and make available research (usually serially issued content such as journal articles) in particular subject fields.
  • rights management:
  • royalty:  fixed payment made to the creator of a work, determined as a percentage of its commercial sale per unit.  NOTE:  royalty-free does not necessarily mean cost-free (e.g., software or other works made freely available on websites).
  • self-archiving:
  • shibboleth login:
  • site:
  • site license:
  • SSRN:  the world's leading open repository, covering all the major social sciences fields from accounting to philosophy
  • society publisher:
  • SPARC:  the "Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition" is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system.  It was developed by the Association of Research Libraries.
  • subscription:
  • TOC/s:  table/s of contents
  • transfer agreement:  legal agreement between a publisher and an author, which usually transfers all rights to a work from an author or creator exclusively to the publisher, though sometimes written with exceptions
  • university press:

email me to suggest a term 

last updated:  11.27.12


    Scholarly Communications Librarian

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    Lucy Duhon
    The University of Toledo
    Carlson Library
    2801 W. Bancroft St. (MS #509)
    Toledo, OH 43606 USA
    VM: (419) 530-2838
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    Scholarly Kitchen and other blogs in the field. Check back often for notable new content.

    Cautions & Caveats

    Debate over Open Access

    Open Access or "open season" on traditional scientific publishers?  Here's another interesting argument that took place more recently: Let's Have a Debate About Open Access

    updated 9/28/12


    In the interest of fair and open debate and inquiry, here's an interesting one.

    The Case Against Open Access Journals DEBATE: Free access journals are important and useful


    The Case Against Open Access Journals Rudy J. Castellani1, Mark A. Smith2
    1University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA 2Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

    "Technological advances in information processing have spawned open access publishing, which ostensibly allows for free communication among scientists in the spectrum of disciplines. Moreover, the expansion in open access jounrals, which is now alarming to the point of guaranteeing the failure of many, has been accelerated by government mandates requiring that publishers of state supported work make that work available to the public after a defined, and often short, period of time. The anti-free market nature of this new mandate, the interest by some proponents of open access publishing to undermine commercial publisher profitability per se, and the “author pays” model of financing among many open access journals, has raised concerns from many in the scientific community. Prominent among the concerns is the erosion of the peer review process (which is axiomatic with the massive proliferation of journals), betrayal of a public who assumes that high quality peer review is an integral part of science, the unfair disadvantage to developing nations, and the lack of recognition of the impracticality of a “one size fits all” model. Echoing, the Royal Society position, “Careful forethought, informed by proper investigation of the costs and benefits, is necessary before introducing new models that amount to the biggest change in the way that knowledge is exchanged since the invention of the peer-reviewed scientific journal 340 years ago. Otherwise the exchange of knowledge could be severely disrupted, and researchers and wider society will suffer the resulting consequences.”

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