How to be an open access scholar
- Publish in open access journals. If you’re in Norway, you’ll also want to search DBH’s list of approved journals to make sure that the journal you publish in is registered as a peer-reviewed, scientific publisher so that you and your department get publication points, which translates directly to money – for the institution, anyway, maybe just brownie points for you, but these things do matter. If a journal is not registered and you think it should be, send in a suggestion! Every journal I’ve suggested has been approved the following year so this really is worthwhile.
- publish in closed journals, but make sure they allow you to self-archive your paper. For some publishers this is automatic, for others you have to alter the contract, which usually isn’t a problem if you just ask – danah boyd confirmed this on the AoIR mailing list the other day, too. At a minimum they should allow you to publish a copy of your paper on your own website and/or in your institution’s open research archive (like BORA for Bergen or DUO for the University of Oslo. Most universities have one of these by now – here is a list of all the Norwegian open research archives. At several Norwegian universities (including Oslo and Bergen), we can upload a copy of a publication when we register it in Cristin, the database where we have to enter publications in order to get publication points. Also, these archives are indexed by Google Scholar, so it’s a good way of getting your work read more. If you want to check a journal’s policy on self-archiving before submitting an article you can search the SHERPA/RoMEO database. When I’ve altered contracts I’ve just done it myself by crossing something out and writing something else in by hand, but the Science Commons has an Author’s Addendum you can generate if you like. I’ve also found that the staff at BORA (and probably other open research archives) are extremely helpful in mediating with journals where I’d published before I started thinking about this. Sometimes journals won’t allow you to publish the proofread PDF they created, and only allow you to put a preprint (i.e. the last draft you sent them) on your website. Or they require you to wait for three or six months or at most a year before you publish. This is also called an embargo.
I’ve published closed access books, and certainly the publishers (MIT Press and Polity) have done a fair bit of work on the books – and I don’t feel that the £15 or so that each book costs is outrageous – it’s half or a third of what it costs to download a single academic article from many closed journals. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to promise I’ll never publish a book with a traditional publisher again, but I will certainly look into alternatives. There are initiatives like the Open Humanities Press that do wonderful, open access, digital only peer-reviewed books. And sometimes traditional academic publishers will allow books to simultaneously be published openly, as MIT Press recently did with 10 Print. Martin Weller goes through some of the issues here.