Open access University

Scholarly publications should be open to public free of charge.

Last week was open access week, celebrating the movement to make scholarly research free and open to the public via the Internet. Currently, researchers mostly publish in journals only available to those with a subscription. A lot of research, however, is funded by taxpayers, but isnâÄôt made free for the public. Instead, we pay for research a second time via subscription fees. Universities also pay for research twice: they pay a faculty memberâÄôs salary and then pay again for access to journals containing that faculty memberâÄôs research. Authors have copyright issues with journals too. Journals buy the rights to an article from the author. When authors sell rights to an article, they no longer have control over it. For example, Dr. Jim Ellor of Baylor University couldnâÄôt legally distribute his own article to a class after it was published in a journal. In an open access depository, there are no copyright restrictions and authors retain rights to their articles. Students can access journals through university libraries, but after graduation they lose access. Open access would make research available to everyone, not just those at a university. This wider availability can also encourage wider peer review. Associate Director of Library Administrative services Marlo Welshon points out that open access is a very complex idea only just beginning to gain momentum. While open access hits publishers hard, Harvard, MIT and Stanford already require faculty to put their articles in an open access repository one year after publication. The University of Minnesota should encourage free, open access to its research, both to better serve the public in its land-grant mission and to bolster its top-three public research ambitions.