1. Why is making academic research and scholarship available on an open access basis in the way the LiviBL project is doing important? Why should we bother with this whole ‘open access’ thing at all?
Open access is a means for academics, researchers, publishers, librarians and interested others to take ‘advantage of the global reach and relative inexpense of internet publishing to make peer-reviewed scholarly materials freely available’ to all those who wish to use it, including those in less affluent parts of the world — rather than restricting access to scholarly research and publications merely to those who can afford to buy it.
The open access movement has arisen largely as a response to the attempt by many for-profit presses to fence off and enclose academic research. Journal publishing has consolidated from 8 key players in 1998 to 4 key players by 2008. These 4 players — Reed Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, and Taylor & Francis/Informa — have a stake in 62% of all peer-reviewed scholarly journals (the others being produced by non-profit publishers, learned societies, scholarly associations, university presses and so on, some of which of course publish only one or two titles). While they are not funding academic research, these 4 key players are nevertheless making huge profits by selling access to the results of research back to the very academics and institutions who produce it; and by limiting access to research only to those institutions and individuals who can afford to pay for it.
One of the aims of the LiviBL project is to draw attention to this situation and to encourage academics in the humanities to look for and use open access alternatives that are freely available to all when it comes to their own teaching, learning and research practices and procedures.
2. What is the difference between something being freely available on the internet, and something being published open access?
Most open access publications ‘go through normal refereeing and editorial processes, and are thus fully academically certified.’
3. What about copyright?
This quote from the Open Humanities Press’ website should clarify the situation:
Open access journals typically allow authors to retain copyright of their work. Many also permit the full rights enshrined in the Creative Commons Attribution licence that allows users free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship.
4. I would like to include in my Living Book a text which is not available via JSTOR, MUSE or similar journal archiving system, but which is available and free to access via the author’s personal webpage. Can I consider including this piece?
The first thing to do would be to take a look at the author’s website, to see if there is any information there about a Creative Commons (or similar) licence that allows users free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a licence to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose.
If the author’s website doesn’t contain such information, then the next thing to do would be to contact the author, ask her/him if they retain the copyright to the version of their text that is on their website and if so, whether they would be willing to give you copyright permission clearance to include a copy in the living book you are putting together. (You will probably have to explain the LiviBL project to the author a little, and say something about why you would like to include their piece, how important it is for your overall volume, etc.).
Certainly, some of the editors in the LiviBL series are already doing that: contacting the actual authors of pieces they wish to include in their living books – especially if they have been unable to find the material in question online.
If the author does not retain the copyright, property, or proprietary rights to the copy-edited and published post-print version of their text, they may still have a pre-print draft you can use.
If the author does not retain the rights even to that, then you need to determine who does, and under what basis, and, if needs be, contact them to seek copyright permission clearance.
If the author does retain copyright, property, or proprietary rights to the version that appears on their website, and is happy for you to include it (and there is no reason they shouldn’t, as you’re only going to be promoting their work for them, providing them with more potential readers, while not making any profit from their work), then you can include the paper itself. If the author is not willing to grant you copyright permission clearance to use the paper itself, then as a last resort you may be able to simply include a link with the kind of citation the author suggests as to where the piece was first published.
5. You sent round a link to the online the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). If a journal is not included on this listing does that mean it is automatically outside of allowable use?
If a journal is not included in the Directory of Open Access Journals, all it really means is that it has not registered with the DOAJ for inclusion in their list. So no, it’s not automatically outside allowable use.
The task then would be to find out why they have not registered with the DOAJ. It could be that the journal in question is publishing on an open access basis with a Creative Commons (or similar) licence that will allow you to include/reuse their material in a living book, but either those running the journal haven’t heard about the DOAJ, or aren’t interested in registering their journal with it. There are many open access journals that fall into that category.
Alternatively, it could be that the journal in question is openly available online but not an open access basis complete with a Creative Commons (or similar) licence that will allow you to include/reuse their material in a living book. So it is their licensing and copyright policy that you need to check.
Most journals and publishers will provide details of their policies, licensing and copyright agreements on their website. If you cannot find this information, you could always drop the editors/publishers of the journal a quick email, letting them know what you would like to do, emphasizing that you’ll reference the material and where it first appeared and that no one is going to be making any profit from this, and asking if they will give you their permission.
Worst case scenario: if the journal is already available online then you simply provide a link to the material instead of including a copy of the material itself in your living book.
6. If I can access an article from my computer at work, does this mean it is free to use?
No, it doesn’t automatically mean this. You may be able to access it because your institution has taken out a subscription to a particular journal. But other people whose institutions have not taken out such a subscription, or who are not affiliated to an institution, may not necessarily be able to access it at all. (See Questions 3, 4, 5 above for more information.)
7. If an article can be accessed at Google Scholar for no cost, can we use that, or would we just be able to provide a link to it?
Google Scholar is primarily acting as a search engine. They do not host the material themselves. What they are doing is providing a page of ranked results for a search for academic work on a given topic. The academic work itself, however, is hosted elsewhere.
This is why they give the following advice to anyone who wants to include their work in Google Scholar: ‘If you’re an individual author, it works best to simply upload your paper to your website, e.g., www.example.edu/~professor/jpdr2009.pdf; and add a link to it on your publications page’.
So what you need to do is find the original website that is hosting the article you’re interested in including, and see what licence it is published under there. (See Questions 3, 4 and 5 for more information).