Open access (OA) addresses the desire to make research results publicly accessible. OA literature is digital, online, free for all to read immediately upon publication, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. Others can copy, use, share, and display the work publicly, subject to proper attribution of authorship. Opening scholarly content to such uses maximizes the rate of scientific discovery by removing the access and copyright barrier typically enforced by subsciption-based publishers.
Open access does not mean that a publication has not been peer-reviewed. See #3 for details.
2. Why is UCSF helping to fund open access publishing?
While not all OA journals charge a publishing fee, many of those that interest UCSF authors do. Memberships and subscriptions through the UC Libraries provide UC authors discounts on OA journal article processing charges (APCs) - see this chart for details. This fund goes further by helping cover more, if not all, of the publication charges for authors who do not have another source of funding. Sources for OA book publishing are also on the rise, so the fund helps defray those costs as well.
3. Are OA journals and books peer-reviewed?
Open access publishing is a business and access model that is entirely compatible with peer-review. An OA publication's peer review process should be judged by exactly the same criteria as any subscription publication. Many publishers now have an OA option for individual articles, and these articles undergo the same peer review process. Some publishers are now using open peer review to increase transparency.
4. How do authors distinguish the good OA publications from the bad ones?
Open access is not a designation of quality. OA journals should be judged by exactly the same criteria as any traditional publication: the caliber of the research published, the peer review process, the composition of the editorial board and staff, impact factors, and other trusted metrics of quality. See this page for tools to help assess the quality and reputation of an unknown publication.
5. How does this fund relate to the Open Access Policy?
The UCSF/UC Open Access Policies fall in the category of "green" open access. The policies allow all UCSF employees to deposit final manuscripts of their published articles into an OA repository such as eScholarship upon publication. No payment to the publisher is required to exercise this right.
This fund helps pay "gold" OA charges - these are payments required to publish an article on the publisher's platform under a Creative Commons license. The CC license secures broad rights for the author, including the use and sharing of the final publisher PDF of their article, including the right to deposit the PDF in eScholarship. Authors who choose gold OA are in compliance with the Open Access Policies and may choose to provide a link to the published OA article from eScholarship in lieu of depositing a copy.
Read more about green and gold OA.
6. Who is providing the funds for this project?
The UCSF Academic Senate is providing the funds for this project, which is effective as of May 1, 2015. A previous pilot ran from December 2012 - 2014 with monies from the UCSF Library and the California Digital Library. That pilot was successful, resulting in the fund being put on hold when the budget was fully allocated
7. Why aren't hybrid open access articles covered?
Hybrid OA journals are subscription journals that also include paid open access articles published on a Creative Commons attribution license. Because of the lack of transparency by most publishers with how subscription costs are offset by the added income from article processing charges (APCs), the Library, in consultation with the Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication (COLASC), decided to no longer cover hybrid OA journal articles. Aside from the issue of double-dipping, most hybrid journals charge much higher APCs than OA journals (source), effectively setting a market rate intentionally high in order to protect profit margins.
COLASC may consider exceptions in the future for hybrid journals or publishers that provide satisfactory evidence to the university of offsets based on our payments.
OA publishing is not free, and we do not know how scholarly publishing costs will change in the long run under an OA model. Some societies subsidize the costs of publishing their journals while other publishers charge an article processing charge ranging from a few hundred to several thousand U.S. dollars. We believe these fees need to decrease as publishers improve operational efficiency. The Pay-It-Forward project led by the University of California explores institutional costs of and models for converting scholarly journals to an APC model.
9. How can OA lead to a change in the economics of scholarly publishing?
As more research results are published on an open access platform, the opportunity to make OA the norm increases. The OA2020 Initiative aims to transform subscription journals to OA by converting library subscription budgets into funds to support sustainable OA business models. Other studies on this topic include the Pay-It-Forward final report and Harvard's Journal-Flipping Project.
UCSF is considering signing the OA2020 Expression of Interest indicating our interest in pursuing this transformation. Send your input to the Committee on Library & Scholarly Communications (COLASC) by emailing Karla Goodbody.