HowOpenIsIt? – Request for Public Comment

Not all Open Access is created equal.  To move beyond the seemingly simple question of “Is it Open Access?” PLOS, SPARC and OASPA have collaborated to develop a resource called “HowOpenIsIt?” This resource identifies the core components of open access (OA) and how they are implemented across the spectrum between “Open Access” and “Closed Access”.  We recognize there are philosophical disagreements regarding OA and this resource will not resolve those differences.

We are seeking input on the accuracy and completeness of how OA is defined in this guide. Download the open review draft and provide feedback via the comment form on the SPARC site.  In its final form, this guide will provide an easily understandable, comprehensive, and quantifiable resource to help authors make informed decisions on where to publish based on publisher policies.  In addition, funders and other organizations will have a resource that indicates criteria for what level of OA is required for their policies and mandates.

This OA guide is aimed toward a wide audience of researchers, authors, and policy-makers.  Your feedback will help us more precisely define OA across a number of categories.  The goals of the guide are to:

  • Move the conversation from “is it open access?” to “how open?”
  • Clarify the definition of OA
  • Standardize terminology
  • Illustrate a continuum of “more open” versus “less open”
  • Enable people to compare and contrast publications and policies
  • Broaden the understanding of OA to a wider audience

In 2002, the Budapest Open Access Initiative articulated the basic tenets of OA for the first time.  Since then, thousands of journals have adopted policies that embrace some or all of the open access core components related to: readership; reuse; copyright; posting; and machine readability

Why now and why this resource?

OA is gaining momentum and we are seeing a groundswell of support from authors and funders to colleges and governments. Despite this progress there is still confusion about OA.  With this guide we aim to provide greater clarity regarding its definition and components.  All suggestions will be considered and a final version will be released during Open Access Week (October 22 -28, 2012).  The comment period will close on Monday, October 8, at 5:00pm EST / 10:00pm GMT.

One thought on “HowOpenIsIt? – Request for Public Comment

  1. One of the biggest confounding factors in the discussion is the question of affordability.

    A well-defined, well-managed, well-supported open-access publisher may nevertheless need to charge high submission fees to cover production, distribution and (long-term) archiving costs. Most of the high-reputation journals that charge author fees and provide free access to content are out of reach for contributors from low income countries.

    This has created pressure and opportunity for the creation of low-cost journals that may or may not be sincere scholarly efforts. How are authors to judge the sincerity of a publisher that interests them? How can sincere publishers without established reputation distinguish themselves from “predatory publishers” and scams?

    Apparent affordability can be used as a lure to unwary authors, yet affordability is desperately needed, and there is no reason why start-up publishers should not seek to cover costs if their intentions are sincere.

    Affordability is also important for subscribers when a paid subscription system is used. A quarterly journal with an annual subscription cost of $5.00 and author submission charge of $5.00 could be considered affordable for most contributors and readers, and could be regarded as close to gold-standard open access.

    There are always costs in publishing. In my view the key questions are affordability, sustainability, sincerity, and reputation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>