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ROI: Region One Insights April 12th, 2024
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Celebrate Open Access Week!

Posted by on October 19th, 2023 Posted in: Uncategorized


October 23rd-29th is Open Access Week!

Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of scholarly research outputs, including the rights to use and reuse those outputs. By removing paywalls, open access allows more people to see and use the results of research. Open access has the potential to accelerate research progress and lead to new collaborations, and some studies have found a citation advantage for open access articles over subscription articles.

There are several open access models:

  • Green Open Access is the deposit of an article by the author in a place like an institutional repository or preprint server. Usually a preprint (a copy that has yet to undergo peer review) or a postprint (a copy that has undergone peer review but not copyediting and formatting) is made open access while the final version of the article is only available in a traditional subscription journal.
  • Gold Open Access refers to journals that make the final version of articles open access but require the payment of an article processing charge (APC) by an article’s authors. In this model, APCs replace the revenue that journals would traditionally receive from subscriptions and pay-per-view article downloads. Many well-known open access publishers, such as PLoS and BioMed Central, operate on a Gold OA model.
  • Diamond Open Access (sometimes also called Platinum Open Access) refers to journals that both publish articles open access and are free for authors to submit to and publish in.
  • Hybrid Open Access (sometimes called Transformative Journals by publishers) refers to traditional subscription journals that allow authors to choose to pay an APC to make their individual article open access while publishing other articles to subscribers only. This model has become fairly common among journals in recent years, with major publishers like Springer Nature and Elsevier allowing authors to opt in to open access for several thousand journals.

Some funders—including the National Institutes of Health—require that the journal articles funded by their grants be made open access. The NIH Public Access Policy went into effect in 2008 and, as of early October 2023, has resulted in the open access availability of over 1,700,000 journal articles.

Librarians can support open access by creating LibGuides and tutorials, and by hosting classes or workshops for their institution’s researchers, on open access and related topics like the NIH Public Access Policy preprints. They can help researchers navigate NIH Public Access Policy requirements, and they can provide guidance on the appraisal and selection of open access journals to avoid predatory or questionable publishers, who exploit the open access model by charging authors APCs but fail to perform key publishing services like thorough peer review, copyediting, and indexing in databases.

Librarians can also leverage their institutional repositories to promote open access. Institutional repositories are a convenient location for authors to make their article postprints open access (where permitted by journal policy), and some libraries even host open access journals within their institutional repository.

The National Library of Medicine offers several resources related to open access. First and foremost is PubMed Central, a repository of over 9 million open access journal articles. PubMed Central hosts articles covered by the NIH Public Access Policy as well as the compete contents of over 2,800 journals with which it has deposit agreements.

The Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) also offers several on-demand courses which may be of interest. For example, preprints are one way that researchers can make their work green open access, one that has been used by biomedical researchers more often since the COVID-19 pandemic. Preprints: Accelerating Research serves as an introduction to preprints and preprint servers, as well as the benefits and challenges to researchers making their work available in preprint form.

Finally, it is important to note that open access is just one component of the broader concept of open science, which encompasses various concepts and initiatives like open data, open code, and open peer review. The NIH’s Data Management and Sharing Policy, released earlier this year, aims to increase the availability and reuse of scientific data, and the NNLM’s NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy Workshop serves as an introduction to the policy and potential library roles. Meanwhile, RDM On-Demand: Open Science and Data Science provides an introduction to open science.

This post was written by Gina Genova, Clinical Librarian and Assistant Professor, Kornhauser Health Sciences Library, University of Louisville

Image of the author ABOUT fsteele
Faith Steele, MLS, is the Outreach and Education Librarian for Region 1 for the Network of the National Library of Medicine at the University of Maryland Baltimore. She connects libraries to community health partners, provides training and funding to help communities access quality health information.

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