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Scholarly Communication: Open Access

This guide will outline what scholarly communication is and its relation to Open Access

Welcome to the Guide on Scholarly Communication

What is Scholarly Communication?

Broadly speaking, Scholarly Communication is the life cycle of scholarship. It is the process through which research is discovered, accessed, created, reviewed, disseminated, acquired, and preserved. The process involves numerous stakeholders, including authors, publishers, libraries, institutions, and funding agencies.

Open Access, with its promotion of broad dissemination and widespread discovery, may be one component of the Scholarly Communication cycle. However, Scholarly Communication extends beyond the Open Access movement and deals with everything from author rights to bibliometrics to publishing practices.

What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) is the free, online availability of scholarly, peer-reviewed research, for which the authors and peer-reviewers receive no financial compensation.

Scholarly publishing can be prohibitively expensive. Between 1986 and 2003, journal prices increased by 215%, over three times the rate of inflation during that same period (Panitch & Michalak, 2005). This essentially puts research out of reach for the majority of people worldwide. In many ways, Open Access (OA) is a response to both the rising costs of journals and the advent of technology which makes virtually instantaneous, global distribution possible.

Green vs. Gold

In traditional publishing, readers pay to access articles. In Gold Open Access, the costs of publishing are shifted from the user to the producers. Some journals charge authors fees to have work made freely available to users worldwide while others are subsidized through institutions or advertisement. Well-known examples include PLOS One and BioMed Central.

In Green Open Access, articles may be published in traditional journals, but authors also place copies in institutional or subject repositories so their research is still accessible to everyone. This is often referred to as self-archiving. Examples of subject repositories are in Physics and PubMed Central and PubMed Central Canada in Biomedical and Life Sciences. See the Open Access Resources page for more subject repositories.

Open Textbooks

BCcampus Open Education Self-Publishing Guide

By Lauri Aesoph and BCcampus

Book Description: "The BCcampus Open Education Self-Publishing Guide is a reference for individuals or groups wanting to write and self-publish an open textbook.This guide provides details on the preparation, planning, writing, publication, and maintenance of an open textbook. Copyright, open-copyright licences, and the differences between citation and attribution are discussed as well as the importance of copy editing and proofreading. Checklists and templates are also provided. This guide replaces the BCcampus Open Education Authoring Guide."

The BCcampus Open Education Self-Publishing Guide is free to download or read in multiple formats and can be read online here.

Author Benefits

There are many benefits of Open Access. Authors in particular benefit from:

  • Greater impact of their work from an increase in citations
  • Breaking down disciplinary boundaries leading to more interdisciplinary convergence
  • Greater potential for collaboration at different levels (local, provincial, national, or international)
  • Greater control over their intellectual property through copyright negotiations with publishers
  • Greater control over how they can use the products of their research
  • Ability to track their research record through OA repositories

(List adapted from Mount Allison Libraries Open Access Guide)

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Heather Empey
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