Exerpt: Anderson, Priscilla, Whitney Baker, Beth Doyle, and Peter Verheyen. “Open Access: A Model for Sharing Published Conservation Research.” AIC News, vol. 39, no. 3. May 1, 2014. pp. 1-6.
The conservation field has articulated the importance of publishing our research to disseminate information and further the aims of conservation. Article X of AIC’s Code of Ethics states that conservators should “contribute to the evolution and growth of the profession, a field of study that encompasses the liberal arts and the natural sciences” in part by “sharing of information and experience with colleagues, adding to the profession’s written body of knowledge.” Our Guidelines for Practice state “the conservation professional should recognize the importance of published information that has undergone formal peer review,” because, as Commentary 2.1 indicates, “publication in peer-reviewed literature lends credence to the disclosed information.” Furthermore, our Guidelines for Practice state that the “open exchange of ideas and information is a fundamental characteristic of a profession.” In publishing our research, we can increase awareness of conservation and confidence in our research methods among allied professionals as well as the general public.
However, current publication models limit the free flow of information by making access expensive and re-use complicated. An alternative to traditional subscription publishing is the Open Access movement, which strives to remove barriers to access and re-use of published information by reducing the costs of publishing and rethinking permissions issues.
To synthesize growing interest in professional publishing and spark discussion, this article proposes to:
- Define Open Access and how it differs from traditional publishing in its approach to access and re-use of peer-reviewed publications
- Discuss the implications of Open Access for the conservation field including interdisciplinary research, outreach opportunities, preferred medium for consuming professional publications, perspective of the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation (JAIC), and author impact.
- Outline issues related to funding models, copyright, and licenses
- Raise questions about current and future publication practices
As described in the Budapest Open Access Initiative FAQ, Open Access is the publication of scholarly information that is free for readers to view online and puts little restriction on the use or re-use of the content. Peter Suber, the Director of the Harvard Open Access Project,in an interview with co-author Priscilla Anderson, explained that the Open Access approach is different from traditional (usually for-profit) publication, which generally requires readers to purchase access (through paid institutional subscription, individual membership, or per-article purchase by non-members). Additionally, in the traditional model copyright is generally assigned to the publisher (not retained by the author),
and re-use of the content is limited to what “Fair Use” restrictions will allow.
Suber debunked some common assumptions about Open Access publications, including that authors must pay a fee to publish their work and that there is no peer review. Suber reports that in reality, many Open Access journals have alternate funding models (i.e. neither author nor reader pays) and most are peer-reviewed, although some employ alternative review models such as committee abstract review. Furthermore, many of these journals retain a high “impact factor,” an indicator of respect a journal commands within its field as measured by university standards. Suber provides more details in his Open Access Overview, available online. Authors should inquire about sources of funding before publishing with an open access journal, to ensure there are no
conflicts of interest.
In correspondence with co-author Whitney Baker, Ada Emmett, Head of the Office of Scholarly Communications & Copyright at the University of Kansas, clarified that there are two main types of Open Access models. In one model, individual authors choose to share their published journal articles, making them “open,” whether or not the journal is a traditional “subscription” journal or open access journal. In the other model, the journal publisher chooses to make the entire issue/volume/title open, and the author goes along with it. The important distinction is who is making the decision to “open” access to the resource.
One common feature of Open Access journals is that they are available primarily online in digital form. Most have eliminated print versions. Printed publications can be expensive to produce and distribute, and removing these costs makes alternative funding models feasible. Some Open Access journals offer a hard copy option using a “print-on-demand” model (as opposed to traditional offset printing which requires a large minimum order).
To read the rest of the article, including AIC’s viewpoint on Open Access, please see AIC News online.