The 4th annual Open Access Week is October 18-24, 2010. What does it mean for a classicist?
Open access resources are those that are available to all online, without the payment of a subscription by a university library or department or individual. For many students and faculty based at large research institutions in the United States, it is easy to take access to appropriate scholarly resources for granted. Many undergraduates I work with are surprised to discover that the UGA library pays for access to Jstor. I field queries from students who are perplexed that a web site is asking them to pay $30 for a scholarly article they found using Google, and recent graduates who are distressed that they no longer have free access to Lexis Nexis. And consider those who are based at small and/or ill-funded academic institutions, both in the US and abroad, and rely heavily on interlibrary loan and/or database license restriction-violating friends at larger institutions (who email them .pdfs or share passwords).
It is relatively easy to embrace the principle that scholarly information should be freely disseminated and available to all – but real life and the economics of scholarly publishing make open access more complicated. To explore these issues, the Association for Research Libraries has an Open Access initiative called SPARC. SPARC produces a brochure (pdf) that is much more eloquent than I can be about the benefits of open access, and the web site has sections on economics and campus policies. A few campuses have had their faculty commit to publishing their research in open access repositories, and many campuses have digital repositories, usually based in the libraries, to adequately organize and store various open access materials, which can range from digitized historic documents to data sets to student papers (including dissertations) to scholarly research by faculty.
Open Access: You’re Already Using It
The blog AWOL: The Ancient World Online has been collecting scholarly journals and other resources relevant to ancient studies that are open access, and has amassed an impressively long lost of titles.
The Hathi Trust catalog is an important scholarly site to be aware of. Supported by major US research libraries, it has online full-text of many scholarly works that are out of copyright, and the indexing and searchability are better than Google Books (which is also a valuable resource for open-access scholarly books and a few journals.)
What have I missed? Tell me the best scholarly resource you use online for Classics research that is open-access. I am certain I am missing many non-US ones!
Open Access: How You Can Contribute
As a teacher and scholar, you can help promote open access resources by:
- Recommending them to your students and colleagues.
- Publishing your scholarly papers in open access journals, especially if you are past the tenure process and can actually attract readers to these often newer journals because of your well-known name.
- Looking closely at your contracts with publishers when you sign them. If they don’t allow you to keep copyright of your own works, consider asking for an amendment of the agreement.
- For scholarly works for which you hold the copyright, consider posting them online as free .pdf files, making them de facto open access. A personal or departmental web site is a good place for this (you can link .pdf files to an online CV, for example) or a ‘scholarly social networking site’ like Academia.edu makes the process easy.
Are there other ideas I have missed? Have questions about Open Access? Let me know!