Open access to research information; get informed

Brian McManus, a graduate student in library science and staff member at WSU
Libraries, is helping to plan International Open Access Week Oct. 18-24.
PULLMAN – It’s a variation on the tree falling in the forest conundrum: If a research article gets published in a journal no one can afford to subscribe to, will it ever get read?
With university budgets continuing to shrink, even while subscription rates go up, it’s a timely question to consider. WSU Libraries is sponsoring International Open Access Week, Oct. 18-24, to educate the WSU community about the Open Access movement that seeks to make research accessible, free and immediately available.
The Open Access movement includes both journals, which are peer reviewed, and archives or repositories, which include both peer reviewed and nonpeer reviewed research.
WSU system linked to world
In 2005, WSU created its own open access archive, known as the Research Exchange, where researchers can publish their prepublication or postpublication articles as well as dissertations and raw data. Because WSU’s Research Exchange follows the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, any research posted on the Research Exchange is fully integrated into a worldwide Open Access network.
“The whole purpose of open access is to build knowledge more quickly,” said Kay Vyhnanek, WSU’s scholarly communication librarian. Posting research in an open access repository such as Research Exchange allows researchers to publish their work quickly in a forum that is safe, secure and open to the world.
Google it
Once information is posted in the Research Exchange, she said, it can even be found through search engines such as Google. “That’s one of the good things about it,” she said.
Three Research Exchange events
To highlight more good things about the Research Exchange, several events are planned at the Terrell Library:
  • Monday, Oct. 18 –  WSU Libraries will host a public reception 3-4 p.m. Monday in the Terrell Atrium, with opening remarks by Dean of Libraries Jay Starratt.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 19 – A faculty panel discussion will be held 3-4 p.m. Wednesday focusing on the Research Exchange
  • Thursday, Oct. 20 – A demonstration and discussion of the Research Exchange will be hosted 3-4 p.m. Thursday.
No science secrets
“I’m a scientist, and I don’t think science should be secret or restricted,” said James Satterlee, WSU chemistry professor.
Satterlee,one of the Wednesday panelists, is on the editorial board of Biosensors, an open access, peer-reviewed journal based in Basel, Switzerland. Biosensors will be publishing its first issue in November. Funding models for open access journals vary, but MDPI, the company that publishes Biosensors, typically charges a one-time article processing fee of between $250 and $300 and then makes all of its articles freely available to the public.
In comparison, a single journal costs thousands of dollars annually. Brian Research, for instance, costs $23,101.
Open access momentum
Brian McManus
, a staff member with WSU’s Access Services, said the issue of open access has been around for several decades, but began to pick up momentum in the last seven or eight years because the technology now exists to create open access archives and journals and because libraries are finding it impossible to pay for all of the journals faculty would like to have access to.
“Every time we have a budget cut, a large chunk of that comes out of subscriptions,” McManus said.
Robert Ferguson, library data officer, said the library currently pays for access to about 30,000 journals, but in 2010 was forced to cancel subscriptions to 1,660. That comes on top of losing access to about 1,100 journals in 2008 and 2009, Ferguson said.
Faculty make the choice
According to Rhonda Anderson, who’s been working with McManus and Vyhnanek on the Open Access events, faculty can choose to participate in an open access archive as a complement to traditional, subscription-based journal.
“Each journal has its own rules about what you publish,” she said. “When you’re submitting an article, you need to negotiate for publishing rights.” Some journals will allow prepublication manuscripts to be posted, she said, and some will allow postpublication manuscripts to be published, but authors need to know to ask about copyright issues.
Convenience and accessability
Mary Collins
, curator of the WSU Museum of Anthropology, will be another panelist during the Wednesday discussion. Collins said she has made great use of the Research Exchange. For many decades and up until the late 1990s, she said, WSU had a contracting branch that conducted hundreds of archeological reports for various agencies.
“The information is still useful to people, even though it’s old,” she said. Before the Research Exchange, she said, people would have to know where to look for the reports and then buy a paper copy, if there was a paper copy available. Now, she said, people can search for the reports and find them online. Some people still choose to buy a paper copy, she said, but the convenience of finding information online is huge.
“Anyone in the world can get their hands on this material,” she said.
International Open Access Week is sponsored by SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, which is an international alliance of academic and research libraries. According to its website, SPARC is working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system.