SI521 "Open Educational Resources at the University of Michigan" Open Textbook/OpenAccess

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Abstract[edit | edit source]

The promise of Open Access to Open Education Resources (OER) is enormous. By providing free-of-charge access to the public, anyone can access these resources and use them to enhance their education and the education of others. Additionally, providing open access will broaden the exchange of knowledge and generally increase the role of researchers.[1] The promise of open access is that it will lower barriers to high quality educational resources in places that traditionally have not been able to afford them. Providing institution/association level open access holds the promise of breaking the publishers stranglehold on academic publishing.

We can analyze the Open Access publication model by looking at three factors. First, we can analyze the contributions (or inputs) into the model; they are often in the form of intellectual property. Second, we will look at the users and uses of Open Access publishing; who is using Open Access publications? How are they using them? Third, we will examine the feedback loop that Open Access publishing fosters; one publication builds upon another, constructing a wealth of open access publications.

Definition[edit | edit source]


Open Access is a model of publication distribution, whereby the public may access the resource free of charge. Some models of Open Access account for low copyright barriers, allowing users to redistribute the material in full, given citation.[2]. Other models account for open access but have varying degrees of copyright protections. For a full discussion on copyright, please see the chapter on Copyright.

In the academic domain, Open Access has a long tradition as a model of publication. Libraries provide open access books and resources to researchers, university faculty, and students. Prior to publication, there is a tradition of peer-review and open access to pre-publication materials for researchers and faculty. The ease of distribution of information on the Internet has fostered a renaissance in open access publication models and increasingly is becoming the norm for academic publishing in many fields.

Open Content v. Open Access[edit | edit source]

Cedergren defines open content as "content produced not-for-profit — often collectively — with the intentional purpose of making content available for further distribution and improvement by others at no cost."[3] Open content is content in any form that is available in its entirety, whether as software source code, complex data sets, or textual publications. As a model of publication, open content is a child of the overarching model of open access. Open access ensures that the public can access information and publications in their entirety and free of charge. Open content takes this a step further and using intellectual property tools, allows users to remix and reuse the content according to the terms of the specific open content license. Open content is open access but the inverse isn't necessarily true.

Another set of terminology used to differential open content from open access is gratis versus libre. These terms, often used in the open source community are used to distinguish between "free as in freedom" versus "free as in beer".[4] The gratis model grants users access to the information at no charge, analogous to the "free beer" argument. The gratis model is analogous to the open access model; the information is available to the public free of charge, however there are not additional legal permissions granted. The libre model grants users unlimited access to the information and gives the rights to remix and reuse content. The libre model is analogous to the open content model, whereby users are granted legal rights to reuse the content.

Furthermore, both the open content v. open access and libre v. gratis arguments evolved from a discussion of open access information as weak versus strong. Weak open access materials were those granted access free of charge, while strong materials were those available for reuse and remixing. [5]

Venue-Based Models of Open Access[edit | edit source]

Peter Suber, an open access researcher argues for two distinctions between open access materials beyond the permissions granted in the license (open access v. open content). These differences focus on how and where the publication is published, its "venue".[6]

Green Open Access[edit | edit source]

"Green Open Access" resources are those available in academic or institutional repositories. Green resources may not be subject to peer review. Often these repositories will have publications in different statuses: pre-print, in publication, in-review or in post publication status. These resources may contain different types of information such as data sets, learning materials and standalone research publications. Green open access materials are most likely to be open access, however there are some that are also open content.[6] Examples of Green Open Access repositories include:

  • arXiv - A repository used by physicists, mathematics, statisticians and computer scientists. This repository is hosted by Cornell University. Available at
  • eScholarhip Archive - A repository of publications hosted by the University of California. Available at

At the end of 2008, there were more than 1,200 repositories holding more than 7.5 million items, an increase of more than 45% from the prior year.[7] Green repositories are growing rapidly every year and will continue to do so in the near future as more institutions mandate open access scholarly publications.

Gold Open Access[edit | edit source]

Gold Open Access materials are those publications that would normally be found in academic journals. Typically, the publications have undergone the peer review process and are no longer in preprint status. The journals may provide open access immediately upon publication or they may wait a period of time before providing open access to the publication. Like the "Green" model, content is most often published as libre content rather than gratis.[6] Furthermore, gold open access content can be further broken down into several subcategories[6]:

  • Gold - The Open Access publisher provides instant access to resources and publications.
  • Green - The Open Access publisher provides postprint access to the resources, after a period of time from publishing.
  • Pale Green - The publisher allows preprint open access by the author.
  • Grey - The publisher neither allows preprint open access, postprint open access, or instantaneous access to any resources.

Self Archiving[edit | edit source]


About 15% of new research articles are self-archived by scholars on their own websites.[7] Often, these publications are also published in a print journal or in an existing repository. If the paper is being published by a non-open access publisher, often they will require a delay before self-archival is allowed; usually in the range of six to twelve months. Otherwise, there are addendum the scholars can make to publication arrangements that allow for immediate self-archival.

History & Background[edit | edit source]

History and Economic of Journal Publishing[edit | edit source]

Open Access to publications and educational materials traditionally, has been difficult to achieve. Since the invention of the printing press, it has been costly and largely uneconomical for publishers to provide content free of charge. The information had to be printed (at cost) and distributed (at cost) by the publisher to the readers. Prior to the electronic age, this largely put a damper on open access.[6] With the increasing use of networks and personal computers, open access has been defined. Information can be distributed online at very low cost and is non-rival.

Increasingly, research libraries have been devoting an increasing amount of their budget to pay for the cost of access to electronic journals. Even after adjusting for inflation, in 1997, the cost for access to journals increased at more than 10% per year.[8] Research libraries and institutions had to divert funds from other resources, such as monographs to pay for the increasing cost of access to journals. Open Access provides a potential respite for many library budgets; it can increase competition for the publishers and potentially drive down prices.

The "BBB" Declarations[edit | edit source]

In order to define and build support for open access, there are several initiatives that seek to define open access and call for its support and usage:

  • Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002), [9] defined open access as the removal of price limitations for accessing publications. Among the signatories is the Science Commons, PubMed Central, and hundreds of universities and libraries around the world.
  • Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (2003)[2] defines open access as both the removal of price limitations and the replacement of copyright enforcement mechanisms with social norm enforcement mechanisms.
  • Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003)[10] took the calls for open access in the Budapest and Bethesda statements one step further and called for removal of price limitations, replacement of traditional copyright enforcement mechanisms, and calls for scholars to place their publications and data sets for open access in scholarly repositories.

Strategies for Generating Open Access Content[edit | edit source]

Mandates[edit | edit source]

One method institutions have used to encourage open access publication of scholarly work is to mandate that publishing faculty provide an open access copy of their work, even if they publish in a for-profit journal. A variety of institutions have implemented this model, with varying degrees of success.

  • Harvard's Self-Archiving Mandate states "Each Faculty member grants to the President and Fellows of Harvard College permission to make available his or her scholarly articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles."[11] Harvard requires publishing faculty to retain a copy of all publications on-record with the University. In turn, the University hosts a website and publishes this work under an open access license. The Harvard Thesis repository can be accessed at:
  • National Institute of Health's (NIH) Public Access Policy mandates that researchers who conduct NIH funded research upload a copy of their manuscript to the publicly accessible website at: This public access policy only applies to accepted peer-reviewed manuscripts, not preprints or data associated with the research.
  • European Research Council (ERC) Guidelines for Open Access[12] mandate that all ERC funded researchers publish their peer-reviewed publication and the associated raw data sets in an open access repository within six months of publication. Additionally, the ERC has committed to covering publication fees for authors in open access journals. [13]

Among advocates for open access, these mandates have been largely lauded as being a successful measure to provide access to academic materials. In regards to the Harvard mandate, Paul Courant writes, "What almost all faculty care about almost all of the time is the dissemination and use of their work, not its commercial consequences."[14] He argues that the goal of scholarly publishing is dissemination of information, not commercial gain. Perhaps, forcing the publishing industry to change wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

Self-Archival[edit | edit source]

Self-Archival is when scholars publish their own works, free of charge, on their website. Typically, the scholar will simply upload a PDF file to their website or their online CV. In some cases, they will publish the raw data along with the publication. The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) has developed a code for scholars to attach metadata to their publications, for easier archival and search.[15] The OAI has developed their own XML schema for the publication's metadata[16] to enable efficient retrieval. The OAI's work means that when scholars publish their works individually across many websites and repositories, there will be a common protocol used for sharing information between the sites and the services used to access them, such as Google Scholar and Library electronic resources.

Science Commons Author's Addendum[edit | edit source]

For scholars interested in self-archival of their publication, they can add the Science Commons Author's Addendum to append to their existing contractual arrangement with the publisher. This addendum allows authors to retain permissions on their publication. These permissions allow the researcher to reuse their own work under certain conditions from immediate to delayed access.[17] For authors who with to reuse and allow open access to their research and publications, this addendum works to achieve that goal.

Critique[edit | edit source]

Generally speaking, publishers of research are opposed to open access. They argue that by allowing open access to publications, we are destroying some of the most important academic institutions: peer-reviewed journals. In place of the journals, there is a virtual diaspora of scholars who are choosing to public in various repositories, open access journals, or websites.[18]

PRISM[edit | edit source]

The American Association of Publishers has founded an organization, Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine, to oppose many of the open access movements and lobby in favor of the publishing industry. PRISM argues that we have built many years of successful relationships between the private sector publishing industry and large public sector research institutions. Rather than simply moving to open access, scholars should "leverage rather than duplicate the valuable publishing infrastructure"[19]. PRISM argues that open access publications may be subject to alteration and manipulation for political reasons and lacks the integrity that the private sector publishing industry provides. Finally, they argue that rather than dealing with sustainability issues of open access resources, we should rely upon the market-driven conditions in the private sector to ensure that successful business plans and models of publishing keep resources sustainable.

Fair Copyright in Research Works Act[edit | edit source]

In response to the National Institute of Health's open access mandate, several members of the United States House of Representatives introduced a bill, H.R. 801, which sought to institute limits on the Federal Government's power to assert copyright over funded scholarly works. As of April 2009, this bill is still in committee.[20] Proponents of the bill argue that the Federal Government ought not have a role in determining the copyright of publications that they fund and the copyright should be left solely up to the author and the publisher of their works. Additionally, by providing this information free of charge, the taxpayer would be funding the demise of the publishing industry and therefore, the end of the peer-review process.[21]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Willinsky, John. The Access Principal. MIT Press. 2006.
  2. a b Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing. Invalid <ref> tag; name "bethesda" defined multiple times with different content
  3. Cedergren, Marcus. "Open Content and Value Creation". First Monday.
  4. Free Software Foundation. The Free Software Definition. Avilable at
  5. Suber, Peter. Open Access News. 2008. Available at
  6. a b c d e Suber, Peter. Open Access Overview. Available at
  7. a b Suber, Peter. Newsletter. 4/2/09. Available at
  8. MacKie-Mason, Jeff and Riveros, Juan. Economics and Electronic Access to Scholarly Information. 1997.
  9. Budapest Open Access Initiative. Available at
  10. Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. Available at
  11. Harvard's Self Archiving Policy. Available at
  12. European Research Council. ERC Scientific Council Guidelines for Open Access. Available at
  13. Suber, Peter. ERC will pay fees at fee-based OA journals. Available at
  14. Courant, Paul. The Michigan of the East Goes Open Access. Available at
  15. Open Archives Initiatives FAQ. Available at
  16. Open Archives Initiative. Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. Available at
  17. Science Commons Author's Addendum. Available at
  18. McLeod, Donald. Publishers make last stand against open access. The Guardian. 2005. Available at
  19. The PRISM Principals. PRISM. Available at
  21. Conyers, John. A Reply to Larry Lessig. Available at