The Open Access movement
Concept, story and status quo
In our last Thursday’s post, we discussed the emerging tendency of research and researchers opening their minds to the mass of people by going social. Now, we ask the question: have they been “open-minded” enough yet within the academics circle?
Research “knows no boundary.” However, traditional publishers of research papers and articles have created and maintained the boundaries between their subscribers and non-subscribers, which resembles the traditional mass media. While the traditional mass media have undergone a dramatic wave of going open pushed by the pervasive Internet and Electronic publishing technologies, the academic publishers has done a fairly “good” job of holding their ground, reaping money from their subscriptions.
Concept — Open Access
Recently, an Open Access movement across almost all research disciplines is going gangbusters. Open Access (OA) means that electronic scholarly articles are available freely at the point of use. OA can be provided in two ways:
- Green OA: provided by authors publishing in any journal and then self-archiving their postprints in their institutional repository or on some other OA website. Green OA journal publishers endorse immediate OA self-archiving by their authors;
- Gold OA: provided by authors publishing in an open access journal that provides immediate OA to all of its articles on the publisher’s website. (Hybrid open access journals provide Gold OA only for those individual articles for which their authors (or their author’s institution or funder) pay an OA publishing fee.)
Success Story & Business Model — arXiv
An immediate issue when considering OA as an option is the source of funding. arXiv, the first free scientific online archive of preprints, has made a good example of how OA publishers can survive and operate in a good shape. arXiv now includes postprints as well, and serves 2.5 million article downloads per month, ranging from physics, mathematics to computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance and statistics. arXiv was originally hosted at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and now by Cornell University. Current funding comes mainly from Cornell University Library and National Science Foundation, and a considerable part of it from 62 institutions (includeing a lot of renowned universities and research institutions) representing Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and all over the world. As of July 2010, arXiv has secured pledges from 85 institutions, totaling to $302,000 in contributions, well exceeding its $100,000 plan for this year. The current support model consists of 3 tiers with rates of $4,000, $3,200, $2,300 per year.
Now arXiv has been planning a sustainable use-based model, which in their business model white paper means “as a public good, arXiv should be supported by those institutions that use it the most.” They have compiled a list of the most active 200 institutions based on download data for 2009, which may suggest the funding levels for the next year to some extent. Currently, the top 5 heaviest users are Max Planck Institute, CERN, University of Cambridge, University of Tokyo, and Harvard University.
Status Quo of Open Access
This figure is from the paper Scientific Journal Publishing: yearly volume and open access availability. By B Björk, A Roos & M Lauri, 2009, Information Research 14 (1) paper 391, publicly accessible from Publishing Research Consortium’s website.
Bo-Christer Björk, Annikki Roos and Mari Lauri at Hanken School of Economics, Finland in their research paper of studying the 2006 volume and open access availability of published scientific journals, estimated that the total number of articles published in 2006 is 1,350,000, 4.6% of which became immediately openly available and an additional 3.5% of which after an embargo period of, typically, one year; 11.3% of the total scholarly articles have usable copies available in subject-specific or institutional repositories or on the authors webpages.
This figure is from the paper Open Access to the Scientific Journal Literature: Situation 2009. By Bo-Christer Björk, Patrik Welling, Mikael Laakso, Peter Majlender, Turid Hedlund, and Guðni Guðnason. Published online 2010 June 23 via the Public Library of Science, Creative Commons Attribution.
In Björk et al.’s latest paper, they studied the development of Open Access for the past year.
- Of articles published in 2008, 8,5% were freely available at the publishers’ sites; for an additional 11,9% free manuscript versions could be found using search engines, making the overall OA percentage 20,4%.
- Chemistry (13%) had the lowest overall share of OA, Earth Sciences (33%) the highest. In medicine, biochemistry and chemistry publishing in OA journals was more common. In all other fields author-posted manuscript copies dominated the picture.
A fight, between Nature and the University of California, or perhaps, the academics.
- U. of California Tries Just Saying No to Rising Journal Costs by Jennifer Howard;
- Nature Publishing Group Defends Its Price Increase for U. of California by Jennifer Howard;
- Academics – Nature Publishing Hates You (But Science 2.0 Can Fix That) by Hank Campell; and
- Nature Publishing Group Keeps Misdescribing Itself As “Liberal” On Open Access by Stevan Harnad.