Open access is easier than you think

I recently attended a talk by Jill Cirasella, a librarian at Brooklyn College, on open access publishing (check out the slides here: I kind of went as a professional courtesy to my colleague who set up the talk, because I honestly thought I was pretty well-informed on the topic. Turns out I was sadly mistaken on that count. I figured the talk would be about seeking out and publishing in open access journals, but what I didn’t realize was that there are actually two types of open access publishing: gold and green.

Gold open access journals are ones that make their articles freely available to the public, and sometimes (often?) require their authors to pay a publishing fee. This funding model puts payment for access to scholarship at the beginning of the publishing process, or the time of submission, not at the end, or time of access. This is also what most of us think about when people talk about open access publishing.

But it turns out this talk was focused on green open access publishing, or traditional journals that allow their authors to self-archive some version of their work, and make it openly available on the web. Some restrictions can include an enforced embargo period, or only allowing authors to make available the pre-print (article before any editor or peer review comments) or post-print (final version of the article, but not in the format published by the journal.)

Jill gave us some tools to easily find out the copyright rules for specific journals, including the SHERPA/RoMEO website, which allows you to search for a journal title, and view a summary of authors’ rights. Turns out, the publisher of the two journals I’ve written articles for, Taylor & Francis, have a very lenient open access policy for library science journals. They allow you to self-archive the post-print of your article, with no embargo period. (Oh how I wish I knew that earlier! My articles have been languishing behind paywalls all this time!)

Once you find out if you can self-archive your article, (it turns out that 94% of the journals covered in RoMEO allow some form of it. Wow!) you need to find a repository to deposit your article in. You can, of course, self-archive on your own site, but large repositories are far more stable and vastly increase find-ability. (You do want to be cited, don’t you?!) If your institution has an institutional repository, that’s the best place to start. If it doesn’t (as my school does not) you can check out this list of discipline-specific digital repositories:

It turns out there are 2 pretty prominent library science repositories, E-LIS and DLIST. I plan on submitting my papers to both, but have only gotten around to submitting to E-LIS so far.

e-lis screenshot

e-lis accepted screenshot 1

e-lis accepted screenshot 2
and… accepted!

So now you can access the final, peer-reviewed, full-text of my articles here: I’ll keep you all posted on whether my citations go noticeably up or not, now that they are out from behind a paywall.

A pro-tip for you, so you can learn from my fail: KEEP SEPARATE COPIES OF ALL VERSIONS OF YOUR PAPER. I cannot stress this enough. When the editors sent me the first round of comments, I opened up the Microsoft Word document and made the changes (without enabling the track changes function.) So when I was told I was free to make my pre-print publicly available, I didn’t HAVE a pre-print to make available.

THEN, because I’m an IDIOT, I had the opposite problem with the post-print. The final round of edits are usually made directly in the publisher’s online system, and I didn’t bother going back to my word document to mirror the changes I had made in the system. So when they told me I could make the post-print freely available (but not their version of it) I didn’t HAVE a post-print to make available. ::headdesk:: For you fine people, I actually went through the final pdf version of the document, copied and pasted it page by page into a text file to remove formatting, and then transferred the whole thing, plus images, back into a Word document. This was monotonous and cumbersome and I DON’T recommend you do it.

So, make sure you have a copy of the article that you originally submit, BEFORE you receive any comments from the editors or peer-reviewers, and make sure you have your own copy of the final version, with all the edits, and make sure they’re clearly labelled _preprint and _postprint. You’ll thank me later.

PS- Thanks, Jill, for a really enlightening presentation!!! 🙂
PPS- You can find a list of all the links from the talk (including a link to the slides) here:

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