Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Part 2: How Open Access Works

by Vicky Ludas Orlofsky

To mark Open Access Week 2015, this week you’ll see a series of posts about different aspects of the Open Access movement in publishing. This is Part 2.

Creators of articles, books, and other works that have been copyrighted can also have their work designated open access by using a Creative Commons (CC) license that works alongside copyright. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that has worked to create internationally acceptable licenses with the express purpose of making creative works available for people around the world to use, reuse, and repurpose. Traditional copyright restricts to the author the rights of modification, distribution, reproduction, performance, and display. CC licenses allow for creators to adapt these rights to their purposes: “A CC license lets you decide which rights you’d like to keep, and it clearly conveys to those using your work how they’re permitted to use it without asking you in advance” (Six Licenses for Sharing Your Work, Creative Commons).

Licenses are determined based on how open the creator wants their work to be:

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Caption: Six Licenses for Sharing Your Work, Creative Commons, in the public domain

Creative Commons was founded in 2001, and the first set of licenses was released in 2002. Version 4.0 was published in 2013 and remains the most current. See CC’s Frequently Asked Questions for much more about the history of the project, how CC licenses work, and how you as a creator can use one.

CC licenses are how journals make their articles available open access whether they are traditional (all articles are subscription-based but pre- or post-prints can be archived in a repository), hybrid OA (some articles are published traditionally and remain under subscription, and some are eventually made OA, also available through the subscription), or gold OA (all articles published OA).

A handy guide to judging the openness of a journal is the How Open Is It? Open Access Spectrum guide from PLOS (Public Library of Science; for more, see part 5) and SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), which incorporates CC licenses in the Reuse Rights category:

As an example of how publishers co-opt open access with CC licenses, here is the OA policy of Elsevier, one of the largest academic journal publishers in the world:

  • Green self-archiving: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives), must follow sharing guidelines
  • Gold/hybrid journals: CC BY 4.0 (attribution) or CC BY-NC-ND 4.0, depending on the journal

In all cases, the published work must be attributed. (Source: Elsevier: Open Access Licenses; Elsevier: Copyright)

The most restrictive CC license is CC BY-NC-ND, which basically allows the user to read the work for free but not reuse it, modify it, or distribute it commercially. The least restrictive license is CC BY, which requires the user attribute the work but otherwise reuse, modify, or distribute at will. Beyond CC BY is the public domain, a feature of international copyright law in which works that have fallen out of copyright protection (or are declared by their creator to have never been in copyright protection) are made available to all for free to do whatever they want to with them. CC0 CC calls CC0, their public domain mark, a “tool” rather than a license, because it indicates “no rights reserved.”
Works that are covered by CC licenses can be found through the CC Search. This includes images, media, music, and other material, some of which is in the public domain. Open access articles can be found through the following search engines, as well as on their journal homepages:

  • BASE Search
    The Bielefeld Academic Search Engine, from Bielefeld University Library (Germany), searches though more than 71 million open access documents in more than 3,000 repositories across the globe.
  • HighWire Search
    Aids in "the digital dissemination of more than 3,000 journals, books, reference works, and proceedings," from Stanford University.
  • ROAD Directory
    Directory of OA Scholarly Resources. An international collection of 11,000 OA journals, conference proceedings, and other scholarly works that have been assigned an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) from UNESCO.
  • OpenAIREplus
    The Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe project is an EU-based initiative to collect in one place "the entire Open Access scientific production of the European Research Area." They now provide access to more than 11.5 million publications from almost 6,000 repositories in EU member countries.

More information can be found at the Library’s Open Access Research Guide.

Questions? Comments? Contact Vicky Ludas Orlofsky.

Next: federal and nonprofit grant funders who support OA.

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