“Climbing the ranks” is a really, really weird thing. I feel like I do less and less of my job-y things, and more of professional/service-y things. Like being invited to Edit a Volume on something.*

One hangup I have – despite the chance that I might lose some great opportunities, I’m not willing to bend on some things, like, for example, my commitment to open access and clarity on authors rights. I honestly believe that too often questions are not asked about how and why academic publishing happens the way it does, and so it never changes. I am fortunate to be in the position to not be tenurable (librarians are “specialized faculty” at FSU) and therefore I do what I want in terms of my research and scholarship activities. Like this email I just sent back to that Publisher, who kindly asked me to Edit that Volume.

First let me say I am honored to be considered. I am very interested in being involved, and would need more detail on what work would be expected of me, deadlines, etc. I’ve never had the opportunity to work on such a large scale project before. 

Also, as you might expect, I’d need to have clear commitment and understanding of your stated goals for an open access version of this content. I understand that you have a business to protect, but I have strong feelings about the necessity to make quality scholarly work open and available to the public. I would have serious reservations about contributing to a project that could not live up to my standards of openness, respect for authors rights, and consideration of the limited resources of students and libraries, your primary markets.

Thanks again for this great honor and I hope to hear from you soon on a direction forward. 

I am truly honored to be at a place in my career that these opportunities are coming my way. And I hope they continue to. But it is more important to me that I consider how my actions have effects beyond my own career. Being conscious about the danger of perpetuating a system I hardly have faith in(academic publishing as we currently know it) may hamper my career, but to be honest I probably don’t have time to Edit that Volume anyways. And I’d rather my career be made on a principle/platform for change than acquiescence to “the way things are.”

N.B. I post these correspondence here not to puff myself up but to shed as much light on the system as I can. This is my act of professional disobedience, talking about they who we do not talk about, the publishers who hold our careers in their hands.

* currently in secret planning stages, thus the secrecy.


Its Our Time: Three crazy ideas for LIS to “own” open access.

This is my “repent and ye shall be saved” talk, prepared and presented at ACRL-NY’s 2014 symposium on the topic of Academic Librarians and Open Access.


Let me give away all my secrets up front – I’ve only been a librarian for three years, scholarly communication is the only job I’ve ever had in a library, and I’ve never known librarianship without HathiTrust, DPLA, campus/funder open access policies, The Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Research Libraries, research data management, and digital humanities. I’ve never done reference. Never put together a collection development plan. Never once recommended a book to a patron. Best yet, Librarians are untenured faculty at Florida State, so I have nothing to lose by challenging the scholarly communication system as we know it.

In developing this talk, I thought I had a new idea. But then, reviewing some of the other things I worked on this year, it turns out I am really just a broken record on a soapbox. So if you have read or heard anything I’ve done recently, feel free to stop reading and begin uploading all your publications to your institutional repository while I blather on.

Most of the discussions about open access and the academic library have been how we can provide services and support to the campus – what we can do to support OA rather than what we can do to DO OA. I’m much more interested in the latter.

There is a time for coalition building, but there is also a time for action.

I titled my talk “Scholarly Communication is People” because I believe that is the number one thing that we have lost over the 8 years that Open Access Week has been observed in libraries internationally. In the beginning, we (libraries) made it about money (the Serials Crisis); scholars have made it about their rights to their work; funders have made it about a return on investment; policy makers have made it about civic life. I believe all those things are true, but what we overlook too often is that the academic enterprise, and by extension all this damn writing we do, is about making better humans. The only real reason open access matters is because of the potential it offers. The possibility that a member of the public, disconnected from higher education, will discover academic research that matters to their real life is the reason I wake up. And we have done a disservice to the public by making it all about us.

My mantra, when thinking about open access and academic librarians, is simply this, borrowed from colleagues in the digital humanities – Less yack, more hack.


To that end, here’s one of the crazy things I’ve done this year:


And another:


And, the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication just published an article based on a talk I gave at the Library Publishing Forum in March, titled “Free to All: Library Publishing and the Challenge of Open Access,” asking what is our responsibility, as we move into publishing roles, to advance an open access agenda with our partners?

You can imagine the variety of responses that I might have gotten to any of these. My entire professional output this year has basically been, “so, what are we really doing here?” The good news is its not just me, alone on my soapbox.

Here’s what we currently know about open access and academic librarians: Slide07

UPDATE: there are currently 11 OA policies in libraries. The Open Access Directory lists only “unanimous faculty votes.” ROARmap represents a fuller list of policies. Thanks to Jen Waller at Miami U – Ohio, where they passed a policy in 2012, for catching this.

Since 2009 there have been 7 open access policies passed specifically in academic libraries (Oregon State, University of Calgary, U Oregon, Gustavus Adolphus College, U of Northern Colorado, Wake Forest, UNC-Greensboro). Of course, there are many other instances where campus OA policies apply to libraries also, but these represent an important subset of campus open access policies.

We have a 10 year old, international, disciplinary pre-print archive that is entirely underutilized as a tool for disseminating and discovering scholarship in our field.

The Directory of Open Access Journals lists 143 OA journals (97 in English). Several of my personal favorites are College and Research Libraries, In The Library with the Lead Pipe, Code4Lib, Weave, Journal of Electronic Publishing, and the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication.

Out of 14872 signatories on the Cost of Knowledge Elsevier boycott, 389 self-identify as hailing from the Library and Information Sciences, including 8 students in library school.

This is all great, encouraging progress. However, after a brief literature review the picture looks a little more grey.


A 2007 study surveyed 10 research libraries (9 ARL) and found that “library faculty members are not practicing what they generally advocate.” Only 50% of the respondents considered the copyright policy of the journal to be important, and only 12% had exercised the right to self-archive.

A 2009 study reported that 77% of respondents agreed that principles of OA relate to the purpose of academic libraries, but only 46% agreed that “OA would fail without active involvement of libraries.”

In 2011 Holly Mercer studied the open access behaviors of academic librarians, and concluded that while 49% of articles published by librarians in her study were openly accessible, 94% were eligible to be open.

Earlier this year, Chealsye Bowley and I dug deeper and discovered that we are almost halfway there on many measures — 54% of the LIS journals we reviewed allow the author to retain copyright, while the publisher receives a license to publish; 45% of the journals allow pre-print and post-print archiving; 49% offer gold Open Access publishing options that require an author processing charge (APC) ranging from $300 to $3,000; 56% of our LIS journals are owned by commercial, for profit publishers. The remainder are supported and published by library consortia, libraries, universities and/or University Presses, and a large chunk from our societies and associations.

What does it all mean? We’re getting better, but not as quickly or publicly as we could be.

I believe that we’re at a place where we’ve got the campus support model going pretty well. It’s well past time for us to critically examine the research practices of our own profession and to take steps to change it. This is where we’re at, what I’d like to discuss is where we could be going.


1) All librarians should/can be invested in Scholarly Communication and open access.

Because evolution. New roles for new times. In the past 3 years, most of the new hires at my library have been “functional specialists” in brand new positions. Our field is evolving and being in the know about scholarly communicition is great, but doing it for our own research is better.

Because example. I’m literally just tired of all the best examples of the potential greatness of our open access future being from Physics, BioMed and Digital Humanities.

Because it’s super easy, and it flows from and touches everything that we “believe” in – our heritage of “access for all.”

2) All libraries need a scholarly communication initiative.

Because the populations we serve are being taught poor scholarly communication habits that will continue to perpetuate a misguided system.

Because scholarly communication it is multifaceted. Most people think of a tripod of Scholarly Communication: an institutional repository, a campus open access policy, and an open access fund. But really “scholarly communication” is just Publishing 101: how does peer review work, what is/are Open Educational Resources, Why Creative Commons, what are the best practices for utilizing Google Scholar, are there best practices for professional social networking, digital project management, effective data management strategies, etc. When we define “scholarly communication” not by our library-land buzz word idea of what it is, but as the practice and habits of scholars and researchers effectively passing information between one another… much of what is being done in many libraries could be wrapped into a nice little ScholComm package. “We don’t have a repository” is not a good enough excuse anymore, because your faculty are already using ResearchGate, Figshare, Mendeley, and they need to know how to use those platforms legally and most effectively. The true bottom line for an effective scholarly communication program in my opinion is copyright education. If everyone that interacted with the library left with a firm grasp on their own copyrights to the things they create (including especially scholarly works) the system of academic publishing would change itself overnight.

3) A scholarly communication initiative builds peer-partnerships with researchers and scholars

Because respect. As the library organization evolves, the campus must develop a new perception of the librarian. We do research too, and must be treated as such.

Because collaboration. All things research/scholarship in the future will have elements of collaboration, and what we bring to the table (information skills, copyright knowledge, project management, cross-disciplinary perspective, etc) is invaluable. Not to mention time and people to devote to advancing new research practices like data curation, or grants compliance to federal funders open access mandates.

Because Scholarly Communication is people. We need to invest in making new connections, in new ways, with our colleagues beyond the library. It’s as necessary for the continued relevance of the library as it is for the advancement of the research/teaching agenda at an institution.

Here are some specific things that we can be involved in to change the scholarly conversation: Slide10

OpenCon – A group of young and early career researchers devoted to working toward a more equitable research ecosystem. Included especially folks outside of libraries.

ARCS – Advancing Research Communication and Scholarship. A new conference focused on the evolving an increasingly complex scholarly communication network, “deeply committed to building a conference that explores and respectively debates the different and even conflicting ideas of what a better system of scholarly communication is and how to build it.” Inviting folks outside of libraries.

Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute – The theme this year was “Scholarship and the Crowd,” i.e. how do we connect scholarly work beyond the ivory tower? Teams and working groups including scholars, publishers, technologists, etc., working together to explore this idea. Inviting folks outside of libraries.

Library Publishing Coalition – Newly founded organization, facilitating key connections with University Presses, an essential partner in academic publishing, whose goals align closely with ours. We should push LPC to become our advocate for change as publishing evolves around us.

Slide11What can we DO to change our own research practices?

Acknowledging that not every librarian will be a researcher (Jill Emery points out there are many different ways to support open access), those of us that do produce research have some unique opportunities.

  1.  Pledge. If Erin Mckiernan can do it and survive in neuroscience, we can do it too. Inspired by that article that Chealsye and I wrote, Stuart Lawson over at JISC crowdsourced an LIS open access declaration. Shockingly few people have signed on, and/or heard about it. I think public announcements about our principles are important to changing perceptions about libraries.
  2.  Follow through. Deposit your work in repositories. Change your publication contracts. Reuse other peoples CC-licensed work. Contribute your work to open access journals. Its imperative that we model the behavior we are asking from our campus communities.
  3.  Go Forth. Imagine scholarly communication beyond the PDF, platform/technology agnostic, mobile, agile, big data-ed, experimental, no-textual, multimedia, etc. What could it be, and why aren’t we going to push our field to do that next big thing?

Here’s my big idea(s):Slide12

Lets negotiate a SCOAP3-type deal with Taylor and Francis. They currently hold most of the LIS journals, and we continue to rent our own research back from them. It would be a “Big Deal” on our terms, for our own work.

Lets build an Open Access Journal of Librarianship – borrowing models from PLoS, f1000, and other megajournals like rapid publication, post-publication open peer-review, high volume of submissions and publishing.

LISarxiv – lets utilize e-LIS as an active, productive, international pre-print server and speed up the production and consumption cycle of our own field. Slide13

What would happen if next year for open access week all academic librarians vowed to live up to our principles, start taking responsibility for changing our own scholarly communication practices, refused to continue to perpetuate a system that continues to prove its blatant disdain for author’s rights, libraries budgets and the good/right of information access to the global knowledge ecosystem?

In conclusion, two points – we need to just do it, and we can and should consider a broader swath of what we already do to be “scholcomm” work.  But what I’m most interested in is us just doing it.

Less yack, more hack.

Bibliography available on Zotero

Recommended Citation:

Vandegrift, Micah (2014): Scholarly Communication is People: Three crazy ideas for LIS to “own” open access.

The Miseducation of Scholarly Communication

Here are the slides and edited text of the talk I gave at the Society for Scholarly Publishing last week. The panel, featuring esteemed colleagues Maria Bonn and Gail Clement, expertly moderated by a Kerry Kroffe of IOP Publishing and co-organized by Kerry and Rick Anderson, was titled “Open Access Mandates and Open Access ‘Mandates’: How Much Control Should Authors Have over Their Work?”  Here’s the session description:

Many universities now mandate that faculty authors deposit their work in Open Access university repositories. Others are developing this expectation, but not yet mandating participation. This seminar will review various mandatory and non-mandatory OA deposit policies, the implications of different policies, and the responses of faculty members to them. Panelists will discuss the degree to which academic institutions ought to determine the disposition of publications originating on their campuses.

Comments, barbs and outright disagreements welcomed!


I believe that Scholarly Communication should be about authors making well-informed decisions about their scholarship, rather than about libraries and publishers fighting over who’s right or wrong about open access. *Point of Clarity – when I say “publishers” in this talk, I am talking about the commercial journal publishing industrial complex, not the University presses or society/association publishers, who I think function under different motivations.

The discussion of “mandates,” or open access policies, or how much control authors should have over their own work only really applies when faculty are involved, so I opted to not address it at all, but rather to address the underlying issue – that is the miseducation of scholarly communication.


Scholarly Communication is about scholars communicating. I don’t like to make a habit of quoting Mark Zuckerburg, but I agree with the sentiment here that information should feed communication. I believe that an inherent “miseducation of scholarly communication” has developed, and is rooted in the author’s general lack of information about the system we all work in. Not to their fault; over the past 3-5 years we’ve made it about libraries vs. publishers, who’s more right than the other, and how well we can argue our point on one another’s blog posts, rather than offering good information to authors of their stake in this system. I can only speak to the last 3-5 years because that’s all I know.

So who am I, and why should you care to listen to me?


I am a Librarian, but probably not the kind you’ve ever worked with. (Probably the worst kind). I’ve never done reference. Never put together a collection development plan. Never had the opportunity to establish a working relationship with a vendor. Never once recommended a book to a patron. Never had a budget to oversee. Best yet, Librarians are untenured faculty at Florida State, so I have nothing to lose by pushing and challenging and bucking scholarly communication as we know it.

I like it this way. I function well in the system this way because I cut my teeth in punk rock where my friends literally tattooed “damn the man” on themselves. I was hired out of library school into a scholarly communication position and have never known a non-open access way to work.

Which means, from the beginning of my career, my work has been built on challenging  the “norms” of publishing. My beef is the lack of options and good information available for authors (who are the creators/suppliers/workers), and the misconceptions about open access that are perpetrated by the system.

I don’t want to pick fights. I don’t want to talk about my beef. Hell, I don’t want to talk about mandates, don’t even want to talk about open access. I think there’s a better way. Lets talk about information. 


The best possible system of scholarly communication is one where the complexities, stakeholders and evolution are all transparent to the authors/creators/workers [those who produce and consume “works of research], and where the authors/creators/workers decide what is best. Where information about how academic publishing works is clear and concise. And we are close to that point.

At this point a more radical person might mention the Cost of Knowledge statement started by Timothy Gowers as an example of authors involving themselves in the re-education of scholarly communication. Or, they might bring up the comparisons to the music or film industries where the indies/scrappy start-ups have worked to align the creators more closely with their creations. I think those are valid talking points, but I would like to start more simply.


Scholarly communication is mired in a binary, black and white system:

  • publisher vs library,
  • Journal Impact Factor vs altmetrics,
  • copyright vs fair use,
  • green vs gold,
  • authors guild vs hathitrust,
  • Scholarly Kitchen vs Peter Suber?

We all know it’s much more gray than that. Together across the great divide of academic publishing we all hold common misunderstandings of one another’s work, investments and interests. The miseducation of scholarly communication spreads to us as well.


What I’d like to propose is a system where we embrace the gray, where publishers and libraries are on the same side of the fence, where we speak the same language, where the common goal is sharing information (within and among ourselves), good, factual information about how things really work (including the money), and finally, the key point, where authors voices are equally valued and respected.

We’re seeing examples of this here and there.

Associations are advocating for authors.

American Historical Association statement on embargo of ETDs – the facts are fuzzy about whether or not open access harms publication prospects – I think we have evidence that it does not necessarily do so – but the heart of the statement was that authors/grad students should be allowed to choose how and when their dissertation is accessible. I agree, and support that sentiment, but have yet to see the publishing community diligently work to inform grad students about their rights and responsibilities in the world of digital dissemination.


Authors are advocating for themselves

I had the pleasure of attending a conference in March where an early career researcher, Erin McKiernan, publicly pledged to value and act on principles of open access rather than publish where the system tells her she should. A great example of authors taking control of their stake in academic publishing.


Publishers are analyzing the market (author perspectives), which informs the work of librarians. 

T&F Open Access Survey, which continues to serve as a fantastic resource for me in addressing the “authors voice” around open access. More than 50% of authors surveyed believe or are unsure that research funders will soon require them to publish in open access journals. This perfectly illustrates the miseducation in our work, the value of having the author’s voice represented, and the opportunity that exists to provide good, factual information about funder open access policies.

In practice, what does this grand system look like? What would be an example?


I was so pleased last week to be served up this example on a silver platter.

The Authors Alliance is an organization founded for the purpose of “providing information and tools designed to help authors better understand and manage key legal, technological, and institutional aspects of authorship in the digital age. They are also a voice for authors in discussions about public and institutional policies that might promote or inhibit the broad dissemination they seek.”

In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Pamela Samuelson, a Law Prof at UC Berkley and one of the Directors of the Author’s Alliance, said…

“We are not trying to create an organization with an orthodoxy that says you have to make everything available on an open access basis. We want to empower people to understand what their options are, and the pros and cons of those options, facilitating the dissemination goals of our members. We are pursuing the long-term horizon: it is part of our mission to think about how the public good can be served through authorship that makes works widely available.”

I think this is a good, reasonable idea. Power to the people and all that.


Another idea for a transparent, information-rich, scholarly communication system —

Human-readable publishing contracts, with standard definitions across all major publishers. (Creative Commons found a way to do it!) Why don’t we have 100% open access (via archiving)? Because most people don’t know they can, and if they do know, the version and embargo lingo scares them away.


Another idea for a transparent, information-rich, scholarly communication system —

Example: First Monday – a scholarly journal that allows authors to chose their own rights assignment, ranging from releasing the work public domain to All Rights Reserved.

What would academic publishing look like if authors understood their rights, and were allowed to chose how to license those rights?


My three step plan, for a more productive scholarly communication system:

Transparency (honesty), more active/productive author voice in the discussion, and clearer straight-forward human readable contracts with options.


Rick Anderson, whom I need to thank for inviting me to speak here, presented a really well-constructed argument about the “miseducation” issue I’ve been presenting, and I think he and I agree very much on a course of action. He published a talk given in March this year, titled “Is A Rational Discussion of Open Access Possible?” In the piece, Rick lays out a cogent overview of where we are currently at in terms of working together on open access.

He goes on to add:

“I’d be much less concerned about that if I saw more prominent figures in the movement standing up publicly in favor of open debate and critical analysis. There are lots of voices in the OA community calling on us to fall into line, to join the movement, to accept that either resistance is futile or victory is inevitable (depending on your perspective). I wish I heard more voices inviting us to raise concerns, to help identify and resolve issues, to anticipate problems.”

I’ll happily be one of those voices – and the problem/concern/issue I’d like to start with is that we should not decide how much control authors should have over their work. They should.

What matters from my point of view is richness and quality of information about the publishing process, to provide the author with the rational, reasonable authority to make informed decisions.

The best scholarly communication system, in my young, early-career mind, is not necessarily one where we all get along and hold hands into the horizon. But, we should at least be honest: publishers are here to provide a service (that will make them money), libraries are here to fight for equity and access, authors are here because they love knowledge (or really because they are using us to get tenure and then indoctrinate our kids with socialism and punk rock.)

I think OA is a good thing. I believe OA is the right thing. But I’m committed to good, quality information leading to effective communication as the best thing. I will never be convinced that libraries buying intellectual property that was transferred through misinformation on the part of the author is a valid transaction.

I’m much more interested in a system where authors are fully informed, and make decisions based on all the facts, and take ownership of their professional interests.

Remember my three step plan? Transparency (honesty), more active/productive author voice in the discussion, clearer straight-forward human readable contracts with options.

Unfortunately, these are all issues that publishers will have to contend with more so than libraries. But, I am here to say that I’m willing to listen, and ready to discuss, and happy to help move scholarly communication forward. Please tell me what I can do to help.



Resources and further reading:

Library as Publisher: pwning Open Access

Presentation given at the first Library Publishing Forum, 3/6/2014.

— My notes from the presentation —

Session Title: Alignment with OA Publishing Policies (Thursday, 11-12:15)

Live Prezi here 


** Intro Slide 

Library Publishing: Pwning Open Access
OR Open Access Beyond the Repository

Like a true (failed) academic, I decided to ignore the prompt and answer what I want to be asked.
Also, this is more an intellectual exercise than anything – I have no answers, only questions.

Thesis Statement – Library as Publisher is our opportunity to rewrite the rules of OA.

LPC definition of library publishing: “… preference for open access dissemination… challenge the status quo.”

Could it be “Advocates of open access and change the status quo?”

pwn: to appropriate, gain ownership, to compromise or control.


** Slide 1
The current conversation about library publishing often focuses on process, practicalities and production. What about principles?
We have discussed values and goals… But which of our principles will we take with us into this venture?

Let me ask the direct question: Is open access a core principle of a library publishing program?

There has been talk of open access in business and sustainability models, policies, etc.
Library Publishing Services: Strategies for Success. SPARC report (2013)

Quote from Rebecca Kennison about Columbia encouraging OA, but remaining neutral. (Serials Review, Balance Point column.)

“CDRS encourages the journals it hosts (and other journals on campus) to adopt an open access business and licensing model… Even so, CDRS is neutral in terms of the business models and licensing agreements for the journals it hosts.” (2011)

Mark Newton, Eva Cunningham and Julie Morris echoes this in the Library Publishing Toolkit.

“In practice, CDRS’ approach to publishing support is business model-neutral, however, and OA is not a requirement for partnership.” (2013)

However, we’ve all read or heard the phrase “open access is not a business model.” Kevin Smith, in a blog post titled “Three Things Open Access is Not” from Oct 2012 says, “Open access is not just one thing (continuum “How Open Is It?”)… and it is not just a business model. Open access is also a statement about the values of scholarship; an attempt to introduce more transparency into the process of research and to encourage greater participation in its creation, financing, and evaluation.”

Thinking about OA only in the discussions of business models and policies is too narrow. 


** Slide 2

Hahn “In the near future it should be possible for research libraries to collectively define the core publishing services, particularly for journals, in a 21st century network-based publishing and dissemination system.”

I‘d like to challenge us to be very intentional about how we say what we do. 

Changing the language of OA, or Pwning the language of OA.
Harnad – One big thing holding open access back is calling it “open access publishing.” His argument is for green OA (archiving), but the point applies here too.

I’d like to draw a fine line between “library publishing services” and “library as publisher.”

LPS is a response to changing needs (the needs are Publishing Services not necessarily broader access), Library as Publisher is initiative and momentum recasting the role of the library (whose primary function is as an access agent).

I’d like to problemitize and interrogate the premise that open access happens out there and we need to respond to it. Better yet, I reject the premise.

Aligning with OA policies is not a compliance issue, its a corrective opportunity. We can build our programs/services/organizational models to realign the norms.


** Slide 3

Mike Furlough (2010) – “Much of the early emphasis on library publishing services drew energy from advocacy efforts that sought to counterbalance the control of research by commercial scholarly publishers. But the success of these services will depend not on advocacy, but on identifying significant needs and promising trends in research and scholarship and creating services to meet them.”

Open access in libraries has been a reactive movement since the beginning, forced to this end by the serials crisis.

Moving upstream (library publishing) in the production and dissemination of research, the game has substantially changed, and we can rewrite the rules.

Responding to Mike Furlough, I think we’ve identified the needs and trends and have the service models. (See Library Publishing Toolkit, Library Publishing Directory, Library Publishing Coalition.) 

I think we’ve returned to the place of advocacy, but from a better vantage point, one where the scope of our influence isn’t a serials crisis, but a research production partner.


** Slide 4
I’d like to ask different questions:

How will publishing be structured in 5-10 years, and what roles does OA play there?

As we grow into the areas of publishing and OA simultaneously, how can/should we shape the conversation? In what ways can we be proactive rather than reactive?

To what extent do we, as libraries who do publishing stuff, impose our values on our publishing partners? To what extent can our values, ethics, principles become synonymous with “publishing”?


** Slide 5

What are the core publishing principles/values/ethics that we define as success?

What is the current state of OA in publishing?

What we know as “open access” is dictated to us by faculty senates, publishers, research funders, legislatures and affiliated organizations (DOAJ, OASPA).

     Aside – SPARC has been an outstanding advocate for “our” voice in OA.

Ex. Anyone ever looked at the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association membership list? Cambridge U Press, Oxford U Press, SAGE, and (with voting privileges) Copyright Clearance Center. When was the last time you heard those 4 names in a sentence?
Ex. Publishers still define the default rules for OA archiving. Changing with OA policies.
Ex. White House OSTP Directive “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research.” Focus on science/data?

And, most of the discussion of OA is about OA on the tail end of research, rather than OA implied from the beginning.

How have we let external forces define our role rather than define it for ourselves?

Libraries, organized into proactive coalitions (COAPI, LPC, SPARC), can productively alter what we know of as OA, how it is talked about, and where in the research lifecycle that discussion occurs. 


** Slide 6

Thinking about applying open access as a principle, lets propose a rewrite of how that plays out. 

1) where do our allegiances lie?; publishers have self-interest, libraries have public-interest.
–  do we really want to look like, or call ourselves publishers?

2) Set/inform the policies – we define our role (you decide your own level of involvement)
– ex. LPC/DOAJ response.

3) we see communities of best practices having significant influence.
– fair use codes
– Then “Library as Publisher as Open Access Advocate” becomes a question of alliance rather than compliance.

We don’t have to be reactionary in our growth into publishing, we could be proactive. 

Lets not aligning with, or conforming to, or complying with open access policies, but lets mold, create and shape OA policy.
Why is this better? Because we approach it on principle.

OA as agility — a freedom (of movement), not a requirement/restriction.

None of this is to say it isn’t the case, or isn’t being accomplished – just to say lets say it, make it plain and loud and clear. Lets affirm and announce that the Library Publishing Coalition is a change agent, unapologetically, open access-prone.

In closing:

  • Lets talk about principles, and what of those we will carry with us into publishing.
  • Lets be very careful about how we say what we do, and say what we mean. (We don’t need to just let “library as publisher happen to us. We own it. We are it.)
  • As we move from the end of research to the beginning, lets consider how that allows US to define the rules.
  • As we collectively embrace this redefinition of our role, lets not forget that collective action has power and let us carefully consider how to leverage that influence in this space.


Images, all from Flickr, CC-BY

Typewriter by April Killings worth
2009-08-23- Typewriter-0 by Raúl Hernández González
continental typewriter by dr. shordzi
2010-12-02 by Brenda Gottsabend

Science, Peer Review, Open Access and Controversy.

Following Nature’s Future of Publishing special issue this spring, Science has just published a similar series of articles under the theme “Communication in Science: Pressures and Predators.” Needless to say, there is a definite ideological bent to the articles included in both, and to the dismay of folks like myself, more misleading information about open access. Having not read each piece carefully yet, I won’t speculate too far about the content therein, but I did want to point out the affect these Special Issues have on the cultural context and perceptions of open access. 

The Economist, which in recent years has published interesting pieces about the potential of open access and issues in academic publishing, has missed the mark with this piece, Science’s Sokal Moment. Here’s my response, written as a comment to that article:

I think it’s important to note that there are some factual errors in this piece.

“The publications Dr Bohannon selected for his sting operation were all open-access journals. These make papers available free, and cover their costs by charging authors a fee (typically $1,000-2,000).”

According to the Directory of Open Access Journals, actually 70% of the journals listed there DO NOT charge an author fee at all. There are many business models of funding for open access journals.

“Policymakers have been keen on such periodicals of late.”

Many academics are keen on the principle of open access also, including those at prestigious universities like Harvard, Princeton and MIT, who have all passed actionable policies in support of making scholarly literature accessible online.

“But critics of the open-access model have long warned that making authors rather than readers their client risks skewing publishers’ incentives towards tolerating shoddy science.”

The issue that is overlooked in this statement is that currently authors (faculty at universities) are the producers, laborers, reviewers, and consumers (“readers”) of academic publications and it is actually libraries that are the clients. The costs of academic publishing are totally hidden to the very group that create, consume and invest in this industry. The traditional publishing company’s incentives are to capitalize on the free labor of scientists and scholars and reap the financial benefits as long as the costs of production are secret. Asking faculty to write publication costs into their grants, or asking universities and libraries to support the research on the front end rather than through subscriptions, may actually incentivise publishers to approach their role in this system with more caution, as everyone will be paying more attention to their financial stakes therein. Open access journals are forthcoming and transparent about the costs involved in producing research, whereas traditional publishers tend to restrict that information to shareholders and CEOs.

Open access journals, which are just one of two ways to achieve open access, show considerable promise for involving a wider collection of interested parties in the ongoing academic conversation, the “unintended reader” if you will. I’d like to direct readers to two responses to Dr. Bohannon’s piece, which point out holes in his reasoning much more effectively than I could:

Peter Suber, of the Berkman Center at Harvard –

and Michael Eisen, a Biologist and co-founder of PLoS –