Book: Transforming Scholarly Publishing through Open Access

Citation: Bailey, C. Transforming Scholarly Publishing through Open Access: A Bibliography. (2010). Retrieved from

Bailey’s Transforming Scholarly Publishing through Open Access was published as a web-based bibliographic monograph in 2010. The work includes a very brief overview defining Open Access, and then presents citations split into a number of broad categories:

  1. General Works
  2. Copyright Arrangements for Self Archiving and Use
  3. Open Access Journals
  4. E-prints
  5. Disciplinary Archives
  6. Institutional Repositories
  7. Open Archives Initiative and OAI-PMH
  8. Library Issues
  9. Conventional Publisher Perspectives
  10. Open Access Legislation, Government Reviews, Funding Agency Mandates, and Policies
  11. Open Access in Countries with Emerging and Developing Economies
  12. Open Access Books

Most of these are split into further sub-categories.

Despite the bibliography’s publication date making some categories dated and some of the URLs to the items it references no longer working, it remains an excellent general resource for anyone looking to find research and other materials on Open Access from the 2000s.

Bailey’s other works on Open Access topics can be found on his website

Book: The Access Principle by John Willinsky

Citation: Willinsky, J. (2006). The Access Principle. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Retrieved from

This 2006 book on the OA movement aims to “inform and inspire a larger debate over the political and moral economy of knowledge that will constitute the future of research” (p. xvi). Each of its thirteen chapters—with one-word titles that make their focus clear—present a combination of historical overview, current state of scholarly publishing, and arguments for OA.

Although the playing field has moved somewhat in the 10 years since the book’s publication, the vast majority of Willinsky’s descriptions are still on point, and his arguments are as cogent as they were in 2006.

The chapter on the economical challenges of scholarly and OA publishing, for example, holds Elsevier’s ScienceDirect platform up as an exemplar of providing increased access to research. After the establishment in 2012 of the “Cost of Knowledge” campaign boycotting Elsevier journals over the company’s business practices, which researchers say restrict circulation and damage scholarly publishing, these remarks are clearly no longer an accurate representation of scholarly consensus.

All the same, Willinsky’s argument at the end of the chapter—that new publishing models must be pursued to counter rising journal prices and restrictive licensing—is just as relevant as it was in 2006, if not even more so.

Perhaps the most interesting parts of Willinsky’s book are the appendices. The first of these, “Ten Flavors of Open Access,” presents ten types of OA with different economic models and examples. These “flavors” include university subsidization of research on author home pages, author fees, partial OA, OA of bibliographic material for indexing purposes, and others. Additional appendices present details on the economics of scholarly associations, journal publishers, and setting up an OA cooperative, as well as statistical information on indexing and OA journals as of 2006.

Document: Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science

The Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science is a living document created during an EU Open Science conference in April of 2016.

The published report begins with a brief description of Open Science to make the case for the importance of the movement–chiefly, that it can “increase the quality and benefits of science by making it faster, more responsive to societal challenges, more inclusive and more accessible to new users” (p.4)–and sets forth twelve actions which European member states, the EU Commission, and other stakeholders can take to reach full open access of scientific publications in Europe by 2020, and to also make data sharing “the default approach” for publicly-funded research by the same date. (p.5)

The twelve actions are:

  1. change assessment, evaluation, and reward systems in science
  2. facilitate text and data mining of content
  3. improve insight into intellectual property rights and issues such as privacy
  4. create transparency on the costs and conditions of academic communication
  5. introduce FAIR and secure data principles
  6. set up common e-infrastructures
  7. adopt open access principles
  8. stimulate new publishing models for knowledge transfer
  9. stimulate evidence-based research on innovations in open science
  10. develop, implement, monitor and refine open access plans
  11. involve researchers and new users in open science
  12. encourage stakeholders to share expertise and information on open science

The remainder of the document is devoted to in-depth examination of each of these twelve actions, describing which problem or problems each addresses, solutions to those problems, and concrete actions that can be taken. Despite the European focus of the call, many of these actions could easily be adopted on a broader scale.

One of the more interesting set of concrete actions is that put forwards to address text and data mining of published research.  Here, the call recommends that the EU Commission propose copyright reforms allowing “the use of [text and data mining] for academic purposes” as well as others. (p.11)

A PDF of the call for action (from which page numbers in this post are taken)can be downloaded from the EU 2016 website. The text of the call is also available on the SURFnet wiki, with comments from various people attached.

EU Resolution: Council Conclusions on the Transition Towards an Open Science System

On 27 May, 2016, the EU Council met to discuss the transition of their member states towards what they call an Open Science System.

The 18-point conclusion stems from several EU-based OA initiatives, including Horizon 2020 and several reports from the EU Commission which put forward OA dissemination of research—especially data-drive science research—as the most efficient way to drive innovation and serve the public interest. The EU council calls this dissemination “Open Science.”

The conclusion deals with publicly-funded research in particular, stating that it “should be made available in an as open as possible manner” without “unnecessary legal, organizational and financial barriers to access” (p. 5).

While this all sounds good, the conclusion is non-legislative. The majority of its points are recognition of initiatives like the Open Science Policy Platform that are already underway or existing statements like the Amsterdam Call to Action (p. 4), or recommendations that various governments and commissions work to implement Open Science and other OA initiatives at the national level.

You can read the full resolution on the EU Council website.

Article: Gold or green: the debate on Open Access policies

Citation: Abadal, E. (2013). Gold or green: The debate on Open Access policies. International Microbiology 16: 199-203.

Abadal provides a brief discussion of green and gold OA prompted by the release of the 2012 Finch Report, a document produced for the British government in response to its request for a solution that could achieve OA publishing in the UK without harming the publishing industry (p. 200). That report recommended that Gold OA (in which journals make articles available free of cost for readers) be the “strategy for all science communications in the UK” (Abadal, p. 201).

Abadal makes excellent points about how gold OA can be problematic for authors in countries which lack established infrastructures for funding researcher (p. 202). Academic publishing fees are often in the thousands of dollars, an amount which is unreasonable even for some institutions, let alone individual authors.

However, as Peter Suber points out in an overview of OA publishing on his website, there are several different business models for gold OA, listed here by the Open Access Directory, not all of which rely on authors paying fees. Indeed, Finch report recommendation aside, “most OA journals (70%) charge no author-side fees at all.” (Source, which it’s worth noting is from 2006.)

It’s absolutely true that gold OA can be prohibitively expensive for authors who don’t have an institution to cover their costs, and it’s also absolutely true that green and other forms of OA serve a very useful function. While the Finch Report’s recommendation of implementing an author payment system is disappointing, it’s worth keeping in mind that gold OA isn’t always a pay to play scenario.

Wiki: Open Access Directory (OAD)

The Open Access Directory (OAD) is a wiki-based directory hosted by the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College. The wiki is actually maintained, however, by an independent editorial board, with Nancy Pontika as editor (as of a March 24, 2016 announcement on the wiki’s home page).

Although it uses a wiki software, the OAD is (as its name suggests) first and foremost a directory, and most of its pages are lists related to OA in some way. These are useful to the reader looking to find additional resources like blogs, FAQs, and so on.

Some of the lists contain more commentary, such as the OA journal business models and OA book business models lists.

The directory does keep most of its pages updated, although the pages in the “lists under development” category on the home page are occasionally blank, and have been since their creation (occasionally as far back as 2014). Overall, though, the OAD is an excellent resource for people interested in OA.

Book: Developing Open Access Journals

Citation: Solomon, D. (2008). Developing Open Access journals: A practical guide. Oxford, UK: Chandos Publishing.

Solomon’s Developing Open Access journals: A practical guide is just what it says on the cover: a book of practical advice and information for those interested in starting a journal. Despite its age, the vast majority of the book’s contents do not refer to specific technologies or systems, meaning that the bulk of it remains relevant eight years after its publication.

The book is split into three parts: an introduction detailing the history of scholarly journals; instructions on starting an OA journal; and instructions on maintaining an OA journal.

Although the title refers specifically to Open Access (OA) journals, almost all of the information it presents is generalized enough to be equally useful for non-OA journals—although those publishing in a for-profit environment will presumably have additional resources when it comes to things like hosting and income. Indeed, the book is essentially a primer on what a scholarly journal is and usually contains, and much of what it discusses might even be of interest to new scholars who are about to submit their research and anyone else who (for whatever reason) wants to know more about scholarly publishing in general.

Chapters 4, 6, and 7, which deal with finding web hosting, finding funding, and disseminating journal content, are probably the most useful from an OA-specific standpoint. Also of interest is the check-list Solomon includes on launching a journal in chapter 8, and

The final chapter of the book mentions an online annotated bibliography at Unfortunately, the site appears to have gone offline sometime in early March of 2016, and currently shows only a French announcement that there are “no articles for the moment.” Earlier versions of the site have been archived by the WayBack machine; the latest version of the bibliography I was able to access there was the version from February 2011, which contained 20-30 links to common online resources but nothing exhaustive. Readers interested in finding an annotated list of OA resources would probably be better off browsing the Open Access Directory at Simmons University, which is larger and still actively maintained.

webtext: Access/ibility: Access and Usability for Digital Publishing

Access/ibility: Access and Usability for Digital Publishing is a free-to-use webtext published in issue 20.2 of Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy.

The webtext comes from a seminar of the same name at WVU, and includes a number of resources on the intersection of accessibility and digital publishing, such as short essays arguing for the importance of accessibility, a set of best practices for creators and editors of web content, and a bibliography for further reading.

In “The Case for Accessibility as in Usability,” makes a strong case for thinking of access to digitally published documents as meaning more than just “free information” (source), and gives librarians and other OA advocates tools and guidelines to get started doing so without delay.

Blog Series on Accessibility at The “Lib Pub” Blog

Since July of 2015, the “Lib Pub” blog has been publishing an occasional series of posts about accessibility in digital publishing. These posts came out of a seminar held at West Virginia University titled Access/ibility in Digital Publishing, and for the most part consist of discussions of that seminar or basic discussions of how to make things accessible on the web. However, the posts as a whole make some interesting points about the intersection of digital publishing and Open Access (OA) with accessibility.

In her post, “A library perspective”, Susan Ivey discusses the conflict between access and accessibility, and notes that librarians tend to concentrate on access in terms of standardized metadata, linked data, and other technical considerations, and can loose sight of accessibility in a broader sense.

In “A role for libraries”, Sarah Kennedy mentions two concepts in particular: lo-fi production technologies and perseverant design.

Lo-fi production technologies (as discussed by Karl Stolley in the Lo-Fi Manifesto) are just what they sound like—low-tech methods of creating and distributing content. These technologies are less likely to obsolesce, and are also more likely to be human-readable with little or no additional work. (Note that this does not necessarily mean they are accessible, though. The header in Stoller’s manifesto is made up of ASCII art—certainly not screen-reader friendly, and probably difficult to read in general for people not used to the font.)

Perseverant Design is a term used by Melanie Yergeau which refers to reappropriating “perseverant behaviors”—those “which are restrictive and repetitive and which do not necessarily follow appropriately with the social context”. Like Kennedy, I am intrigued by this idea, but am uncertain how it could be used in practice. Still, the idea of phrasing design in these terms is an interesting one.

Beyond these posts are several which focus on technical details of creating accessible content: a post by Melanie Schlosser on accessible publishing in HTML, a post by Sarah Kennedy which lays out accessibility testing workflows and tools, and a post (published today) by Kevin Hawkins which briefly discusses accessibility in journal publishing.

Book: Knowledge Unbound

Citation: Suber, P. (2016). Knowledge Unbound. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Knowledge Unbound contains a number of essays on Open Access by OA expert and advocate Peter Suber, whose 2012 book Open Access provides an excellent introduction to the topic for beginners.

All the essays in Knowledge Unbound were published between 2002 and 2011, so there isn’t actually anything new here, but this book still serves as an excellent resource for those who are exploring OA for the first time, and the book’s organization—which moves from the basics (“What is Open Access?”) through to specific topics like the OA policies of funding agencies and details on how to actually deliver OA content—makes it useful for readers who already have some knowledge but need to brush up on certain aspects of the movement.

One particularly nice thing about this (and Suber’s earlier book) is that MIT Press has also released Open Access versions of both. You can download Knowledge Unbound as an ePUB, Mobi, or PDF, as well as read it for free online, at the MIT Press website.