Making Information Free: Open Access & More

Easy and immediate access to journal articles still remains a challenge. Even Duke cannot provide access to everything.  Journal prices have continued to increase year after year with more and more expensive journals being published. That means important clinical, research, and educational content can be locked up for months, years, or permanently, inaccessible to the patients, health providers, researchers, teachers and learners that need access to them.  This problem becomes even more massive when you look at access to information within developing countries, and can become an obstacle as Duke tries to work with global sites to reduce disparities in health, education, and research.

The following three movements are trying to ensure that scholarly work is available to everyone.

    1. Open Access
      Basic open access has been around for a number of years and indicates that information is freely and immediately available to everyone.  A large number of journals have emerged that allow Duke authors the option of submitting their manuscripts to publications that will immediately make them free upon publication.  There is often an author fee attached to this, but Duke has developed the COPE Fund to assist authors who have no grant support or have limited funding from their departments. Note: Duke University Libraries no longer support the Cope Fund effective June 30, 2022.

      There are different degrees “openness” in Open Access.  While the initial focus was for free and immediate access, there are other issues to consider.  Can you as an author post your work on a Website?  Can readers re-use your work or modify it?  Do journals automatically submit or allow content to be placed in public databases and repositories?  Can the content of a book or journal be text-mined for research?  The guide, HowOpenIsIt? Open Access Spectrum, walks you through these broader issues that you as an author should consider.  In addition, the Open Access Spectrum Evaluation Tool lets you see how open a journal may be.

      Unfortunately, open access has gotten a bad name as some predatory publishers have taken advantage of the pay-to-publish business model. These publishers promise quick publication for a fee with limited or no peer review.  In other words, they are more concerned with collecting the fee than providing high quality and free information. How can you avoid falling prey to these predatory publishers?  Look at their editorial boards, the company behind the journal, their policies and procedures, and the quality of the content in existing issues. To aid in this process, use the Library’s Be iNFORMEd checklist that provides a way of evaluating unknown publishers and their journals. 

    2. Public Access
      Many government and private funding sources are now requiring that works resulting from their research funding are placed in either an open access journal, database, or repository which provides free access to authors’ versions of manuscripts.  Over the past year, numerous US federal agencies have begun to implement public access policies similar to the NIH Public Access Policy, which has been in existence since 2008.  The Library has created a guide that provides links to these new federal agency policies for public access to manuscripts as well as to data.

    3. Open Science
      Another major movement is for sharing data and creating what is being called open science. This is the ability to share and reuse data from research projects in order to increase the speed of discovery within the scientific community. It also provides a more transparent research environment for the general public and consumers who anxiously await or want to understand the results of research projects.

What can you do as a Duke author?

    • Consider submitting a manuscript to an open access journal
    • Or, select a journal that makes its content free within 6 to 12 months
    • Comply with public access policies and groups that are funding your research
    • Select journals that assist you with public access compliance
    • Design and collect your research so that it can be shared with groups outside of Duke

Ask for assistance from the Duke Medical Center Library staff who can:

    • Help you select open access journals
    • Identify potential predatory journals that are offering open access
    • Explain public access policy compliance
    • Provide samples of data sharing plans
    • Provide more information on how you can change access to information scholarly communications

Other Resources

Open Access and Scholarly Communications @ Duke: Supporting OA
Data Sharing and Public Access Policies
Getting Published: Quick Links