Questions, answers during International Open Access Week

As International Open Access Week gets underway, librarian Elizabeth Yates is gearing up for the phone calls and e-mails.

She and her colleagues at the James A. Gibson Library have been getting a lot of these lately. Researchers want to know more about the federal government’s new Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications.

The policy, effective May 1, requires government-funded researchers to make their publications freely accessible within 12 months of publication, either through an Open Access journal or via an online archive such as the Brock Digital Repository.

“It’s a huge shift,” explains Yates, who is a scholarly communication librarian. “We’ve had a traditional scholarly publishing system for around 300 years, all based on a subscription publishing model.

“Open Access turns that on its head by removing the subscription cost. So it’s really shaken up the scholarly publishing industry.”

In the traditional publishing system, journal articles are only available to those who can pay to subscribe to the journal, which can be very expensive for both individuals and institutions.

This poses a moral dilemma for many publicly funded researchers.

“My work focuses on neglected tropical diseases that affect impoverished populations in developing countries,” says Ana Sanchez, associate professor in the Department of Health Sciences.

“Researchers, practitioners, policy makers, working in those countries benefit greatly from the capacity to access my research free of charge to them and their institutions. Likewise, researchers in high-income countries can access my work right away.”

Under the Open Access system, research papers “are immediately available to anybody, anywhere, with no fee to the end user,” explains Yates.

But Open Access poses its own challenges for researchers.

Approximately one-third of the 10,000 Open Access journals charge an “article processing fee,” ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Universities may have funds available to help researchers pay these fees, but the costs can still be a concern.

“The challenges are that it costs the researcher, and research dollars are constantly on the squeeze,” says Veena Dwivedi, associate professor in the Department of Applied Linguistics.

“This means that now in applying for grants, I’ll have to make that a staple in my budgetary planning,” she says, adding that, overall she does support the concept of Open Access.

Some researchers are also concerned that certain Open Access journals may not have the same reputation or credibility of older, more established ones.

Yates says she thinks that will change as time passes.

“Prestige is conferred by the researchers. So, if they want to go and develop a prestigious open access journal, they can do it. It’s up to them: they’re the ones who convey the prestige.”

Yates says she and her colleagues are happy to answer questions about Open Access and how to comply with the new policy. Contact: Elizabeth Yates, Acting Head Liaison Services/Scholarly Communication Librarian, ext. 4469,

The Library welcomes everyone to attend Open Access Week events including a Wikipedia Open Access Edit-a-thon, a panel discussion on copyright and Open Access, and a prize wheel. For information on Open Access Week at Brock:

Register here for Oct. 22 Life after Access Copyright: Moving towards Open Access, 2:30-3:30 p.m., TH253 e-classroom


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