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BI 376 - Development, Genes and Evolution: Open Access

SPARC logo

"SPARC®, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication." There is a wealth of information on their Website.

Additional Resources, Further Reading

What is Open Access?

open access logoPeter Suber (scholar, researcher, professor, and author) is the unofficial leader of the open access initiative. In his open access primer, he defines open access as: scholarly literature that is "digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions."  This means that the material is available without a subscription charge for anyone to read, download, copy, distribute, print, display and modify. A goal of open access is anyone with access to the Internet can find and use, to the fullest capacity, any open access publication.

Open Access Explained


MYTH:  Open Access means giving up all copyright to my work.

Open Access acknowledges U.S. Copyright law. In fact, traditional scholarly journals typically ask authors to sign an agreement that transfers all their copyrights to the publisher, so authors retain no rights to re-use or distribute their own work. Open Access journals allow authors to retain their rights.
See the link to SPARC's Author Rights at left.

MYTH:  Open Access journals are not scholarly, are not peer-reviewed and will be looked down upon by my colleagues.

Most Open Access journals are peer-reviewed with the same or higher standards as traditional scholarly journals. In fact, your publications may have more of an impact because of the broader dissemination and increased access provided through open access. 

MYTH: Open Access and Public Access are the same thing.

Public Access has become a requirement of certain funding agencies. The National Institutes of Health requires access to research that has been funded by its public monies. Access may be immediate or within a maximum embargo period.

Open Access, on the other hand, is a publishing policy that has been adopted by thousands of journals.

MYTH:  Only libraries benefit from Open Access since costs shift to authors and funding bodies.

There is no question that the high cost of traditional scholarly journals has stressed library budgets, but Open Access is not a solution to a budget crisis. The Open Access publication model fosters increased access to research information and promotes new scholarship and discovery. Broader access to information without the limitation of subcription constraints benefits people in the United States as well as in developing countries.

Open Access Journals

The first online-only, free-access (open access journals) began appearing in the late 1980s. The movement has evolved and now is well established.

What Can You Do?

Retain Your Rights as an Author

For traditional scholarly publishers, you typically give up your rights to copy and distribute your own work.
Unless you receive permission from the publisher, and depending upon a fair use judgment, you may no longer have the right to :

  • authorize copies of your work for inclusion in a course pack
  • place a digital copy of your work on E-Reserve, a course Web site, or on the college's or a professional society's Website or digital archive
  • distribute a copy (in print or via email or the Internet) to colleagues and students

What can you do to retain your rights when having a worked published?

  • Publish in an Open Access journal.
  • Negotiate with a publisher to retain your rights to any activities for which you may want to make and control copies of your work
    • Add an " author amendment " or " author addendum " to the publishing agreement to retain rights. (see SPARC's Author Rights at left).
  • Explicity retain ownership of your content
    • Grant only those rights that the publisher strictly requires to publish the work.
    • Keep all other rights, specifically those of value to you (such as making unlimited copies for educational purposes.
  • Read all the agreements carefully before you sign them.
  • Keep a copy of all your paperwork. You may be able to obtain the right to post your work to your Website or our institutional digital repository in the future.


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