Open Trails

Back in November of 2011, the CUNY University Faculty Senate passed a Statement and Resolution on Open Access – a resolution which supported the establishment of a CUNY-wide open access institutional repository and which has been a guiding document in the development of that repository, from its collections policies to its mission and goals:

CUNY Academic Works is a service of the CUNY Libraries dedicated to collecting and providing access to the research, scholarship and creative work of the City University of New York. In service to CUNY’s mission as a public university, content in Academic Works is freely available to all.

CUNY Academic Works aims to:

  • Provide centralized, public access to the scholarly and creative output of the students, faculty, and staff of the City University of New York.
  • Promote research and collaboration within and between the twenty-four campuses that make up the City University of New York, as well as the larger public.
  • Preserve the history and development of the City University of New York.

While the mission and goals of Academic Works are clearly stated, it’s understandable that the first steps to meeting them can feel a little uncertain. Therefore, in order to support the Libraries as we embark on the trail to a more open CUNY, the Office of Library Services communicated three actionable goals for our first 18 months:

  • In 6 months, 50% of institutions will have at least one collection in the repository
  • In 12 months, 100% of institutions will have at least one collection in the repository
  • In 18 months, CUNY Academic Works will have 15,000 items representing diverse content types and disciplines

Sound familiar? OLS has been busy getting the word out about Academic Works since the kick-off this March, and, less than four months later, CUNY Libraries has met its first goal. In fact, we passed it. Thanks to the commitment and hard work of CUNY librarians, eighteen (count ’em, 18!) of twenty-four institutions have their first collections in the repository within four months. And these initial collections have us well on our way to meeting the 18 month goal; they include 2,500+ items spanning from traditional journal publications and monographs to data sets, student work, open educational resources, and archival collections that capture the history of the University.

CUNY enters the scholarly communication landscape at an exciting time. It’s a time that some find reminiscent of the wild west (and it certainly has its good, its bad, and its ugly), but it’s also a time in which CUNY has the opportunity to pioneer the way.

CUNY Libraries prepare to enter the wild west of academic publishing.
CUNY Libraries prepare to enter the wild west of academic publishing. Eighteen of the campus libraries are trained and ready to go, with more on the way soon!

This post originally appeared on What’s New @ OLS57, which provides CUNY Libraries with news and updates from the Systems group at the CUNY Office of Library Services.

Elsevier: Ever More Evil (aka Why Do Authors Boycott Elsevier?)

(Note: This post has been updated and expanded to match the post at the Graduate Center Library blog.)

You may have heard of the Cost of Knowledge, a site where researchers publicly express their upset with the business practices of the publisher Elsevier and commit not to contribute to Elsevier journals. As of today, 15,034 researchers have pledged to boycott Elsevier as an author, editor, and/or peer reviewer.

You might wonder: What has Elsevier has done to cause so many researchers to boycott them?

A primary complaint is their exorbitant product pricing — pricing that allows them to profit richly (with profit margins close to 40%) off nonprofit organizations such as academic libraries. (The Graduate Center Library pays dearly for its subscriptions to Elsevier’s Scopus database and ScienceDirect “big deal” journal package (which, yes, includes many essential journals but also includes many journals that are never used). So dearly that our other collection choices are severely constrained.)

Of course, as is the norm in scholarly publishing, Elsevier does not pay its authors — the creators of its journal content — for their work. So they’re reaping huge profits off free labor. And that brings us to another major complaint: their treatment of authors. Elsevier recently released a new article-sharing policy for authors, and it is not good for authors.

To their credit, sort of, they’ve corrected a horrifying problem with their earlier policy — namely, the bizarro policy of allowing authors at universities without open access policies to make their accepted manuscripts open access, but not authors at universities with such policies (i.e., “You retain the right to post if you wish but not if you must!”).

But…instead of introducing better terms across the board, Elsevier’s new policy imposes worse terms across the board. Specifically, their new policy imposes embargoes on ALL accepted author manuscripts, many of them 24- or 36-month embargoes, and some of them 48-month embargoes! This means that authors cannot broadly share (e.g., in CUNY Academic Works) their peer-reviewed manuscripts (we’re just talking about the final manuscript versions, not the publisher’s PDFs) until those very long embargo expires.

Needless to say, many researchers are very upset. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), and 21 other groups have released this statement of opposition:

On April 30, 2015, Elsevier announced a new sharing and hosting policy for Elsevier journal articles. This policy represents a significant obstacle to the dissemination and use of research knowledge, and creates unnecessary barriers for Elsevier published authors in complying with funders’ open access policies. In addition, the policy has been adopted without any evidence that immediate sharing of articles has a negative impact on publishers’ subscriptions.

Despite the claim by Elsevier that the policy advances sharing, it actually does the opposite. The policy imposes unacceptably long embargo periods of up to 48 months for some journals. It also requires authors to apply a “non-commercial and no derivative works” license for each article deposited into a repository, greatly inhibiting the re-use value of these articles. Any delay in the open availability of research articles curtails scientific progress and places unnecessary constraints on delivering the benefits of research back to the public.

Furthermore, the policy applies to “all articles previously published and those published in the future” making it even more punitive for both authors and institutions. This may also lead to articles that are currently available being suddenly embargoed and inaccessible to readers.

As organizations committed to the principle that access to information advances discovery, accelerates innovation and improves education, we support the adoption of policies and practices that enable the immediate, barrier free access to and reuse of scholarly articles. This policy is in direct conflict with the global trend towards open access and serves only to dilute the benefits of openly sharing research results.

We strongly urge Elsevier to reconsider this policy and we encourage other organizations and individuals to express their opinions.

If you are also upset by Elsevier’s new policy, you can add your name to the statement.

And if the new policy has made you reconsider your willingness to contribute to Elsevier publications, you may want to consider signing the Cost of Knowledge pledge.

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Image is © Michael Eisen, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license

Graduate Center Students Can Now Self-Submit to Academic Works!

(Déjà vu? This post originally appeared on the Graduate Center Library blog.)

Graduate Center students, we’re finally ready for you! You may now self-submit your scholarly and/or creative works to Academic Works, CUNY’s open access institutional repository! And by “works,” we mean just about any kind of scholarly or creative output: journal articles, book contributions, conference papers, slideshows, posters, datasets, reports, interviews, creative writing, musical compositions, images, etc.

Academic-Works-logo

Are you really allowed to make your journal articles open access? Yes, the vast majority of journals allow authors to make their articles (either the submitted version, the accepted (post-refereed) manuscript, or the publisher’s PDF) freely available online. Find out which journals allow what at SHERPA/RoMEO, which provides easy-to-read summaries of journals’ policies.

What’s in it for you? Why should you submit your works to Academic Works? Lots of reasons! Here are just a few:

  • Posting your work online helps you find the widest possible readership, and helps you share your work with potential employers, collaborators, etc.
  • Articles that are freely available online are cited more by other articles. (Learn more about the open access citation advantage.)
  • Materials in Academic Works are more discoverable by Google and Google Scholar.
  • Academic Works will send you monthly download statistics so you can better understand the impact of your work.
  • Unlike disciplinary repositories that only accept research articles (e.g., arXiv.org), Academic Works accepts any kind of scholarly or creative work.
  • If your publisher requires an embargo period before your work can be made open access, Academic Works can count down the embargo for you and automatically open the work up when the embargo expires.

Ready to go? Go straight to the Submit Research page, click Graduate Student Publications and Research, create an account (using your GC email address), and start submitting!  Or, if you’d like more information and step-by-step instructions, consult our Academic Works LibGuide first.

A few important notes:

  • Academic Works is only for completed works, not works in progress.
  • Only submit works that you have the right to share and make open access.
  • Do not submit your dissertation or thesis directly to Academic Works. See the library’s deposit procedures for information about that.

Questions? Contact AcademicWorks@gc.cuny.edu

Getting your work online a great summer project — happy uploading!

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Photo is © Giorgio Montersino, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license