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Fact and Fiction


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FICTION
Open access journals are not peer-reviewed and are of low quality.

FACT
All major public statements on open access insist on the importance of peer review, though like their more traditional counterparts, not all open access journals are peer reviewed. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) includes more than 10,000 titles that employ the same kinds of scholarly review practices used by traditional, subscription-based journals. A 2004 study by Thomson Scientific found at least one open access title ranked at or near the top of its field in each broad subject area. More recent studies suggest the number of high-quality, high-impact, open access journals have only grown since that time.

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FICTION
Open access is detrimental to copyright and intellectual property.

FACT
Open access is premised on the willingness of individuals to exercise control over their own rights as authors. The copyright to an original work automatically resides with its creator, who retains all rights to that work unless and until he or she transfers the copyright to someone else in a signed agreement. In the past, scholars have typically given over their copyright to publishers willing to distribute their work in a journal. Open access encourages authors to maintain at least some rights over publication and distribution of their scholarship, such as the ability to share their research with students and colleagues. Its focus has been on literature that authors voluntarily give to the world without expectation of payment.

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FICTION
Most open access journals charge authors a fee to publish their articles.

FACT
More than two-thirds of peer-reviewed open access journals do not charge fees. Of the journals that do charge fees, most receive payment from either funders (59%) or universities (24%). Only about 12% of authors who submit articles to fee-based journal pay themselves. And, since only a portion of open access journals charge any fees, only about 4% of authors end up paying to publish in them.

Learn more:
  • Study of Open Access Publishing. See page 9, table 4.

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FICTION
Authors who retain rights for open access may risk publication because they are seen as bothersome by publishers.

FACT
Publishers are becoming accustomed to authors who retain their rights for open access. As a reflection of this fact, 70% of academic journals allow some form of open access archiving without any use of an addendum to the author’s contract.

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FICTION
Publishing in open access journals is the only way to make your work open access.

FACT
Publishing in open access journals (gold OA) is not the only way to make one’s work freely available to a wide audience. Most open access and traditional journals grant permission to authors to self-archive a version of their submissions in a disciplinary or institutional repository (green OA), especially when they have a funder or institutional mandate to do so. These green OA repositories provide additional exposure, since they are indexed by discovery services like our library catalog and search engines like Google.

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FICTION
Besides altruism, there are few reasons for publishing open access.

FACT
Open access is a response to the unsustainable rise in journal prices that have led to libraries spending more and getting less. During the past four decades, subscription prices for scholarly journals have risen about twice as fast as the cost of healthcare. Rising journal costs result not only in libraries purchasing fewer journals, but fewer monographs as well. In 1986, academic libraries spent 56% of their budgets on journals and 44% on books. By 1997, the ratio of journals to books was 78% to 22%. Open access promises to provide at least a partial remedy for the current dysfunctional system of disseminating peer reviewed research.

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FICTION
The actions of a few scholars and universities are unlikely to have much impact.

FACT
Open access depends upon the action of individual authors who want their work to find a wide audience. Working in isolation of one another, it’s true that scholars and universities are unlikely to have much success. However, a broad-based, open access movement has the potential to benefit millions of people. Open access publishing helps to equalize global access to knowledge. Countries in the “developing world” are pursuing open access publishing to address inequities in resources for libraries. The United Nation’s adoption of open access as a centerpiece of its strategic plan grows from a belief that “universal access to information and knowledge is key to the building of peace, sustainable social and economic development and intercultural dialogue.”

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To learn more contact:

Reid Larson
Research & Scholarly Communication Librarian
rslarson@hamilton.edu
(315) 859-4480
 

Lisa Trivedi
Professor of History
ltrivedi@hamilton.edu
(315) 859-4980

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