The current system of scholarly communication exhibits persistent signs of crisis, including, but not limited to:
- increasing control by commercial interests,
- rapidly rising prices for scholarly journals,
- declines in the publication of specialized monographs by university presses,
- and limits on fair use and public domain information.
These trends are producing significant declines in access to scholarship. At the same time, many individuals and organizations are working for positive change in the system, creating new models of publication, such as open access journals, and advocating public policies that are more responsive to the needs of scholarship. Change is also being fostered by technological developments and economic necessity.
The Library actively supports reform of existing systems of formal scholarly communication, and invites all scholars to join the discussion and become active on these issues. Of utmost concern is the need to maintain rigorous peer review and scholarly evaluation, while increasing access and assuring preservation of the scholarly record.
In order for your research findings to have the widest possible audience and impact, it is important to understand your rights as author and not assign those rights to a publisher by accepting an unduly restrictive, exclusive publication agreement.
Many scholarly publishers are now recognizing authors' needs to re-use of portions of their work, to distribute copies to their students, and to post the final version of the manuscript on a personal web site or in an institutional repository.
About Open Access
Open access publishing removes price and permission barriers to any user with access to the internet. The three major definitions of "open access" are put forth in the Budapest, Bethesda, and Berlin public statements, referred to by Peter Suber, as the Budapest-Bethesda-Berlin or BBB definition of open access.
All of the definitions include these essential points:
- Open access content is free of charge for all users
- Content creators/providers give users permission for all legitimate scholarly uses, without financial, legal, or technical barriers beyond those inherent in gaining access to the internet.
Open access journals bring scholars' work to the widest audience possible, without sacrificing timely, rigorous peer and editorial review.
Open access does not mean free; there are substantial, unavoidable costs in internet publishing, even if no print version is produced. Some open access publishers require an article processing fee from the author (such as BioMed Central (BMC), Public Library of Science (PLoS)), and may offer reduced fees for those who cannot pay.
The Oberlin College Libraries strongly encourage Oberlin scholars to consider an open access publisher when preparing a manuscript for review. All Oberlin College authors are eligible for reduced fees with both BMC and PLoS, thanks to the Libraries' consortial memberships in those organizations.
Megan Mitchell, Academic Engagement & Digital Initiatives Coordinator, for information about Digital Commons, our institutional repository.
Alison Ricker, Science Librarian, for natural science initiatives.