—Andrea Kosavic, Digital Initiatives Librarian
Today’s scholars and researchers are increasingly able to take advantage of a recently established technological infrastructure to ensure their research is exposed to the largest possible readership.
One of the ways many scholars are now accomplishing this is by posting their peer-reviewed research in digital libraries, often called repositories, that are accessible to anyone connected to the internet. This is a departure from even a decade ago, when researchers could only hope that the machinery of scholarly publishing would provide adequate distribution for their ideas and work.
The Need for a Digital Library Structure
Events over the past decade demonstrated that publisher-driven circulation was no longer satisfactory for many scholars. One trigger for this insight was the exponential price increases of academic journals that left libraries unable to purchase scholarly publications for their libraries and thus, their user communities. This was, and remains, a paradoxical situation for libraries, as authors and peer reviewers are in most cases unpaid for their efforts, leaving publishers to reap the profits of those efforts, and scholars unable to access and disseminate their own research.
Perhaps the most significant factor behind this new model of publishing, however, is the ability of the public to organize and collectively take advantage of widespread access to the Internet. This awareness has led to the development of the Open Access movement.
The concept behind Open Access (OA) is to make scholarship available online without barriers to access. OA literature is free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. It is important to note that OA literature is also “entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance”1.
Open Access moved quickly from an idea to a social movement complete with formalized principles outlined in three Declarations.2 OA also began to prove itself by satisfying the needs of scholars who wanted their work seen (and cited) by others.
Scholars studied the effects that OA had on research and found that it improved the impact of their work through increased citation rates.3 Other benefits included the ability for smaller institutions, readers in developing nations, unaffiliated scholars, and the general public to have access to research that they would otherwise never be able to afford.
To support the sharing of scholarship, the Open Archives Initiative created a technical protocol (OAI-PMH) that standardized the sharing of descriptive data (metadata) to help with the indexing, retrieval and visibility of digital objects. Special software platforms called repositories were also built to comply with the OAI-PMH standard.
These repositories were designed to function as barrier-free libraries of scholarship. Every item of scholarship added would be assigned a permanent link and would be preserved indefinitely. Most importantly, by using the OAI-PMH standard, other repositories, web crawlers and platforms could communicate with the repository easily, which would lead to an enhanced ability for items to be discovered.
Today's Global Research Library
Today, these once-novel ideas are common practice. Authors of scholarly works are posting copies of their peer-reviewed research into repositories to ensure global access to their work. The Directory of Open Access Repositories lists over 1300 repositories all over the world. Issues of copyright are addressed by websites that compile publishers’ policies on repository deposits and by using approaches such as Creative Commons licences.
Faculties from major institutions such as Harvard and Stanford have adopted policies in support of OA, and major funding agencies such as the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and the National Institutes of Health have mandated that all funded research be made publicly accessible through repositories or OA journals. These policies are helping to ensure that an increasing quantity of scholarly output is made available to others that would not otherwise have been able to access it.
At York University, we host a repository called YorkSpace which serves as our publicly accessible digital library of scholarship. The YorkSpace team is available to address copyright questions and to help those that would like to ensure access to their research.
Benefits of Linking to Your Articles in YorkSpace
When compiling an online CV or a list of recent articles for your departmental profile, links to your articles that reside within the library’s electronic resources will not be accessible to those outside of the York community since a Passport York account is required for access.
If you deposit your articles in YorkSpace, you can easily link to them with no access restrictions. Added benefits include improved discovery of your work, institutional context and the library’s commitment to the persistence and preservation of your work.
Please contact Andrea Kosavic for more information about YorkSpace.
2 The three declarations of open access are the Declaration of Budapest (February 2002), the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (June 2003) and the Berlin Declaration (October 2003). http://www.surffoundation.nl/smartsite.dws?ch=ENG&id=12013
3 Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. and Gingras, Y. (2005) Ten-Year Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How it Increases Research Citation Impact. IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin, 28 (4). pp. 39-47. http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/12906/