October 19–26 2020 is the tenth annual international Open Access Week, when scholars around the world celebrate resources that are open to everyone and advocate for more scholarship to be made freely available.
For many of us, this week passes without great fanfare. We may have heard the term “Open Access,” but it’s rarely at the forefront of our minds. There are so many other things to worry about, so why should we take the time to support this issue?
If you support equitable access to education, you should support open access!
The average cost of accessing a single journal article without institutional access is $33 (https://sites.duke.edu/library101_instructors/2018/09/05/paywalls-and-information-costs/). From some publishers, this cost can exceed $100. This limits access to scholarly resources to people with the financial means to pay these exorbitant fees or the privilege of being associated with a higher education institution. Open Access argues that scholarship should be available to everyone regardless of their financial or educational status!
If you think it’s important for people to use high-quality, peer-reviewed resources, you should support open access!
Even if people know the value of using scholarly resources, they aren’t able to do so if these resources are behind paywalls. Instead, they have to turn to information available without fees, which can be outdated, inaccurate, and from unreliable sources. Open access works to make the best information from the world’s experts available for everyone!
If you’re a scholar and you want more people to read and cite your work, you should support open access!
According to a 2018 study, articles that are available through Open Access are cited an average of 18% more frequently than non-Open Access articles. Although studies have been published that attempt to disprove this, these studies are often conducted by publishers who are incentivized to increase their own profits, such as this article from Elsevier.
Whether you’re a student, faculty member, alumnus, or community member, Open Access affects you. Making more scholarship available to a greater number of people makes everyone more well-informed and widens the circle of voices who are included in scholarly discourse.
Thanks to the tireless work of Open Access advocates over the past decade, there is more openly available scholarship now than ever before! We’ll be highlighting some of our favorite Open Access resources this week on Pitts social media. However, this does not mean that the fight for Open Access scholarship is complete.
How to help:
If you’re a student…
- Submit your work for publication in Open Access journals.
- Learn how to use Open Access resources for your research. Look for highlighted resources this week on Pitts social media!
- Share Open Access resources with your peers, including those outside your school. Your family, friends, and others will appreciate knowing where to get high-quality information for free!
If you’re a faculty member…
- Prioritize publishing in Open Access journals or with Open Access licensing.
- Talk to your institution about funding for Open Access publishing- if it isn’t present, advocate for it with your peers! Information about Open Access publishing funds from Emory is here: https://sco.library.emory.edu/open-access-publishing/oa-funding-support/emory-oa-fund.html
- Encourage your students to use Open Access resources in their scholarship. If you don’t know where to start, ask our Reference Librarians!
If you’re an alumnus or community member…
- Contact your legislators to pass Open Access legislation! Your tax dollars fund research; shouldn’t you be able to read it for free? The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition has more information about recent Open Access legislation here: https://sparcopen.org/what-we-do/active-policy/
- Share Open Access resources with your friends, family, and colleagues! The more people who use and appreciate these resources, the easier it is to advocate for there to be more of them.
If you are looking for Open Access resources and databases to use in your own research consider the following options:
- The Open Access Digital Theological Library brings together Open Access materials for religious and theological studies. The website integrates resources from around the world so that you can find the best Open Access materials for religious and theological studies in one place!
- Open Access Publishing in European Networks (OAPEN) exists to bring together academic publications in an Open Access infrastructure and framework. Their coverage includes many different areas of study, but you can limit your searching by subjects relevant to religious and theological studies.
- The Directory of Open Access Journals indexes over 15,000 Open Access journals and over 5 million articles. This is a community-led project, independent project so check back regularly for new journals that weren’t there before!
- The Directory of Open Access Books catalogs books from different publishers and over diverse subject areas. Limit your browsing to Philosophy and Religion for items relevant to theology and religious studies.
- Emory Libraries’ Scholarly Communication Office has more information about publishing Open Access and Open Access resources at Emory. Check out their site to find OA resources published by Emory researchers!
Content courtesy of Brady A. Beard (Reference and Instruction Librarian) and Caitlin Connelly Soma (Acquisitions, Serials, and Assessment Librarian).