Recent Events

Open Access (OA): Latest in the Landscape

Katharine Dunn

Katharine Dunn

OA began by providing readers with free access to journal articles, but it has changed significantly recently. Katharine Dunn, Scholarly Communications Librarian at the MIT Libraries, reviewed recent developments, which include OA agreements (and disagreements) with publishers. She said that Europe is a hotbed of activity because they are more willing to coordinate their resources and have thrown the weight of their funding behind gold OA.

A major development is the cancellation of subscriptions to publisher’s databases, notably Elsevier’s, because their demands are acceptable to the community. There is a lot of momentum in pushing the publishers and walking away. Users want immediate open access to articles, fair article processing charges, sustainable costs, and full transition to OA.

Recently, the University of California terminated their agreement with Elsevier and issued a document written by the faculty (not the library) explaining their position and why they terminated their agreement. (They were paying $11.5M/year and Elsevier wanted to raise the price.) However, they committed to continuing negotiations, so access to Elsevier’s journals will continue in the interim. The faculty also issued a “Declaration of Rights and Principles Governing Scholarly Communication“.  The UC Berkeley library also published some suggestions for gaining alternative access to Elsevier articles.

Alternative Access to Elsevier Articles

Other developments:

  • Recently, Temple University also terminated their agreement with Elsevier.
  • The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and MIT recently signed the first North  American “Read and Publish” agreement to shift publishing models toward OA.
  • Plan S is a group of national level funders in Europe wanting full and immediate OA.  OA is foundational to the scientific enterprise; a decisive step towards the realization of full OA needs to be taken now. Plan S is not yet fully formed. It is not clear what a compliant platform is.

Academy-owned publishing: We need to think about ways that academies can support and sustain their publishing activities. Many of them have hired a corporation to provide services, but the corporation’s interests are not aligned with those of scholarship. We need to establish good practices for vendor negotiation and keep technology and journals community controlled.

Academic led publishing day, an inaugural event t0 celebrate and facilitate academic-led publishing was recently held on February 7, 2019.

Going forward, MIT formed a task force to strengthen and increase OA at MIT.  Some of its recommendations include:

  • Adopt an all-campus OA policy and an OA policy for monographs.
  • Consider adding an OA requirement to all existing and new internal grants.
  • Create an Open Textbook Fund and an OA Infrastructure fund.
  • Develop a set of open licenses for software.
  • Double down on responsible ways to manifest MIT’s foundational belief in the value of open sharing.
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