Why Open Access Matters

Today marks the start of Open Access Week, a global event celebrated each year to acknowledge the importance of continuing to work towards reform in our system of scholarly communication. There are two significant reasons why it is important for faculty, researchers and librarians to work together to create change in a system that is in need of change and demands our collective attention.

The first is economic. The current system is not financially sustainable for higher education. The cost of tuition is already unaffordable for too many students. The irrational high cost of many scholarly journals, particularly in the fields of science, technology and medicine, contributes to the expense of a college education. The budgets of academic libraries are challenged to support these costs. Even with the advent of digital technologies that make new and more open systems of distribution possible – well proven by hundreds of viable, highly respected open access journals – we still scratch our heads and wonder why higher education continues to give away faculty research only to buy it back from publishers at inexplicable high costs.

The second is openness. The current scholarly publishing system keeps important research information behind subscription pay walls. While there is notable progress in making scientific research available to the public, it still represents a small portion of all published scholarly content. There are already many examples of the benefits of making this content openly accessible to the public. Taxpayers certainly have the right to the information their tax dollars fund. If higher education transforms the scholarly communication to advance openness, we all benefit.

Open Access Week is designed to create awareness. It is about more than economics or creating access for the public. It also brings attention to the importance of higher education supporting its right to use copyrighted content under the guidelines for fair use. We must defend the right of faculty to use copyrighted information to support student learning. It is also a time to remind faculty of their rights as authors. Instead of surrendering the rights to their intellectual property to publishers, faculty will want to think about adding language to author agreements that allows them to retain their rights to reuse or share their published content. Too many Temple University faculty have signed standard author agreements only to discover later on that they had no right to use their own content or could only do so for hundreds or thousands of dollars.

We hope that members of our Temple University community will take some time this week to think about the current scholarly publishing system and how we can work collaboratively to improve it. Temple University librarians are available to meet with faculty members who would like to learn more about open access, fair use or author rights. Take advantage of Open Access Week webinar events. Visit the Open Access Week website to learn more about what you can do to create change. And watch this blog for more posts about open access throughout this week as Temple University Libraries honors Open Access Week.


Get Ready For Open Access Week – Oct.21 – Oct.25

Each October academic librarians set aside a week to promote and celebrate the open access movement. Across the globe events are held to remind scholars of the importance of reforming the scholarly communications system in order to make the results of research and scholarship widely available to all the world’s citizens. According to the Open Access Week website:

Open Access Week, a global event now entering its sixth year, is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.Open Access” to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted.

In recognition of Open Access Week, Temple University Libraries will use its website and this blog to share information about open access. We hope this will create more awareness about open access issues and opportunities across our institution.

There are two webcasts scheduled for Open Access Week that may be of interest to you. On Monday, October 21 at 3:00 pm ET the Open Access Week Kick Off Event is sponsored by SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and the World Bank. The webcast is “Open Access: Redefining Impact” and will feature a panel discussion of multiple experts from different disciplines discussing their open access experiences. You can view a listing of other Open Access Week live events being sponsored by SPARC.

The live webcast “Protect Your Patrons From Predatory Publishers” will be held on Tuesday, October 22 at 3:30 pm ET, and it will feature Jeffrey Beall speaking about low quality open access journals that use misleading techniques and claims to lead faculty to publish for outlandish fees. It is important for researchers and scholars to be aware of predatory publishers.

Stay tuned for more information on open access the week of October 21, 2013.