Friday, 26 February 2010

Duke University Open Access policy

Interesting post by Cathy Davidson, co-chair of Duke Open Access, under the title "Information wants to be sustainable".

At this writing, we propose that the final draft of any article written by a Duke faculty member--not the printed article but the draft before it goes to press--be made available in pdf form and archived in a repository at Duke where it will be available to search engines and therefore to any searcher, yes, for free. This means that the fruits of our collective research can be made available to the world, even if the actual citational final paginaged publication copyright will still reside with the publisher. With modifications offered by Duke faculty in the various forums and committees to which we've now presented this policy, our Open Access policy is roughly similar to the ones already accepted at Harvard, Stanford, MIT, the University of Kansas, and a number of other public and private institutions. It is both modest in its scope and important. It allows faculty to use their own work in their classes; a member of our Taskforce in the Medical School reported that she was having to pay $500 for permission to use her own published article in her teaching. Recently, I took my class to visit the lab of a colleague and assigned several of his articles, listed on his website. We clicked. No article. The publisher had made him take the links down. My students were able to go through Duke University library to read these scientific papers but, if they had not been institutional members, they would have had to pay-per-view for each article, all of them written on grants that our tax payer dollars had supported. An Open Access repository at Duke also means that the work of faculty can be included in online searches by topic and that readers can find the work easily and read it in the pdf form even if they do not have an individual or institutional subscription to the journal. They will still need to go to the actual journal (the printed final copy of the article) for proper citations, but presumably there are many people who will want to read an essay even if they aren't planning on citing it in their own work.

Studies of citations also show that papers previously published in this preprint open access form are more likely to be cited, by a significant margin, than essays that are not available in this form, even when citation requires taking that extra step of going to the actual published journal to cite the paginated essay. In addition, the policy guarantees the future archiving of the article. So there are many benefits to the faculty member. However, if a faculty member has any hesitation at all about this method of open access archiving for any reason, there is also a "no explanation necessary" escape clause available to any faculty member who wants out. If you don't want your article archived in an open access repository, you don't have to have it archived. No questions ask. If you do, however, you can be assured that Duke will preserve it even if your journal collapses or sells its archives to some expensive commercial vendor.

So there seems to be considerable benefit to the scholar and to readers.

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