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Open Access and Scholarly Publishing @ UNO

This guide introduces open access and how UNO scholars can support and publish their research and creative activity open access

Open Access Myths & Facts

Myth: Academic research has impact and value only if published in traditional subscription journals

Fact: More than 76% of electronic scholarly documents are not freely accessible to the public and nearly 50% of papers are solely read only by the authors, peer reviewers, and editors due to the lack of public access.  Paywalls prevent access and discovery of these works.  Open access increases discoverability by making access to scholarly research freely accessible to anyone with an internet connection, which ultimately increases the research's impact and reach.

Act: Use the  Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) to discover open access journals in your subject area.

Myth: Open access journals are low quality and not peer reviewed.

Fact: Both traditional subscription journals and open access journals should be evaluated for quality before manuscripts are submitted.  Most open access journals are affiliated with academic institutions. For example, the Journal of Religion and Film, is an open access - peer reviewed journal that adheres to the platinum standard for open access and is published at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. 

Act: There are various metrics that can be used to assess journal quality.  See our Assessing Journal Quality Guide for more ways to assess journal quality. 

Myth: Open access journals do not have impact factors and therefore are irrelevant. 

Fact: Impact factors is a proprietary term that only applies to journals in the Web of Science databases managed by Clarivate, so it is an incomplete measure of impact.  True impact is the ability of work to be accessible and discoverable increasing the chances of that work to be read and cited, therefore increasing the impact of that work.  Open access journals allow more people to access and discover research because of the lack of restricted access, hence increasing the impact of work published open access.

Act: There are other tools that can be used to measure impact of your research and work.  The following resources are just a few to consider. 

Myth: Open access means only publishing in open access journals. 

Fact: Open access publishing can happen a couple of ways:

  • Authors can publish their work in an open access journal.
  • Authors can published in hybrid journals, but must pay an Article Publishing Charge (APC) in order to make the article open access.
  • Authors can publish in any journal and retaining the right in the publisher agreement to make a version of your work available in an open access repository, such as DigitalCommons@UNO.  

Act: Do some research on publication venues before submitting to ensure you have the the option of making your work open access.  A good practice is to include APCs in any grant proposals so that you can cover that cost with grant money. DOAJ, as previously mentioned, is a great directory of open access journals. See below for a few more resources to help find open access avenues for your work. 

Myth: Open access deprives authors of their copyright and allows for reuse of a work without proper attribution. 

Fact: Just because a work is published open access does not mean that copyright is not at play. In fact open access promotes the retention of author copyrights, rather than transferring those rights to publishers.  Many publishers and authors will utilize Creative Commons Licenses, which are copyright licenses, to customize how they prefer their work to reused and/or shared by others. 

Act: Read publisher agreements carefully to ensure you retain your copyright and if needed add an addendum to your contract so that you keep your copyrights.  Also learn more about Creative Commons and how it can help you share and protect your work. 

Myth: Open access is only for STEM disciplines.

Fact: Open access is quickly becoming part of all disciplines.  There numerous directories on open access publishing in science, as well as in social science and the humanities.   Many funding agencies and grants now require that products of that funding be deposited into open access repositories.

Act: Learn more about the open access publishing in your discipline. One great resources is the OA & Your Discipline section of this guide. Also learn more about public funding agencies mandating open access through SPARC's Executive Directive on Public Access. 

Myth: Open access publishing is expensive for authors.

Fact: Not all open access journals charge APCs. Open access journals make research free to read while covering overhead costs through nonfit or funder backing.  Some open access journals do utilize APCs as a business model to make profit, however authors can request a fee waiver in certain cases.  

Act: Get the facts about APCs by reading up on the research on scholarly publishing and APCs, such as the article below.  Also look into the previously mentioned Open Access Publishing Agreements available to UNO authors. Also remember to write in potential APC costs to your grant proposals if you are considering publishing in a hybrid or Gold Open Access journal. 

 

The above information came from the below article licensed through CC BY NC

Fruin, C. (2019, January 30).  Open access: Myths, facts, actions. American Theological Library Associations (ATLA) Summary of Proceedings. https://doi.org/10.31046/proceedings.2018.47

 

"Open access: Myths, facts, actions" by C. Fruin is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

Scholarly Publishing Myths & Facts

Myth: Preprints will get your research pilfered or "scooped". 

Fact: Preprints, or the submitted manuscript, are versions of an article shared on an online platform prior to or during a formal peer review.  Post-prints, or the accepted manuscript, can also be posted to online repositories or platforms depending on the publisher's policies.  The myth is that by posting in these online platforms someone can take the work and publish it as their own.  However posting preprints or post-prints to these online platforms actually protect against scooping since they are generally time-stamped and in many cases provide a DOI for citing and tracking, establishing priority of discovery.  Posting to these forums, such as DigitalCommons@UNO, can help in detecting and discouraging copyright violations, academic misconduct, and plagiarism. 

Act: Learn more about your copyrights. The library has a great research guide on that very subject.  If you ever have questions about depositing your work into DigitalCommons@UNO reach out to us at unodigitalcommons@unomaha.edu we are happy to help. 

Myth: Journal impact factors and journal branding are measures of quality for researchers.

Fact: Journal impact factor (JIF) was created as a metric for librarians to help decide which journals were worth subscribing to base on the number of citations of articles in a particular journal.  This was never a measure of quality but a measure of quantity. The JIF has always been a flawed metric since Clarivate, the company responsible for assessing JIF, indexes only a few databases such as the Web of Science leaving many reputable journals behind.  It also tends to not produce JIFs for a variety of disciplines, simply because they are not covered within the indexed databases. Many studies have shown that misuse of JIF is rampant and leads to a deleterious effect on overall research quality. 

Act: Consider different metrics when assessing journal quality.  Article level metrics, such as Altmetrics, along with other qualitative and quantitative measures and assessing transparent workflows and accessible research results are a better way of assessing quality. 

Myth: Approval by peer review proves that you can trust a research article.

Fact: Although peer review has been held as the "gold standard" for researchers it can be a flawed process plagued by human bias, corruption, and ghostwriting.  Although the process can be flawed it is still has an important role in gatekeeping to maintain quality of research published. Many researchers understands the flaws and human limitations of peer review, but that understanding is lost on the general public.  When the general public seize on an article published under a flawed peer review it can be hard to combat that mis- or disinformation taken as truth since it was published in a peer reviewed journal. 

Act: Evaluate a journal and its peer review process before submitting work to guard against a flawed peer review process. Also, more care should be taken over how peer review and the results of peer review are spoken about to non-specialist audiences, including students. Teach students to be critical thinkers and to analyze bias and evaluate sources on multiple criteria, not just peer review. The library has a guide that can help students with source evaluation. 

Myth: Open access has created predatory publishers.

Fact: Predatory practices by some unscrupulous publishers, both open access and traditional, has increased since 2010 and include practices such as fictitious editorial boards, false services (especially peer review), suspicious marketing and spamming techniques, and even hijacking known titles. However these predatory publisher only represent a very small portion of all academic publishers.   The prevalence of predatory publishing is a bit deceptive since the media tends report more readily on these issues.  

Act: Use published and OA review reports to directly assess both quality and efficiency of the review system of any journal. Choose journals with more transparency in the peer review and publication process. Be a bit suspicious of unsolicited or unknown requests for submissions - take time to investigate their legitimacy.  Use resources like the DOAJ that uses extensive criteria to assess open access journals.  Also check out the library's research guide on assessing journal quality. 

Myth: Copyright transfer is required to publish and protect authors.

Fact: Authors that transfer copyright to publisher actually lose protection.  For example, an author transfers copyright to the publisher, that same author wants to share her work with others so she posts it on her website - the publisher can pursue copyright infringement against the author since the author no longer holds the copyright.  Publisher has required copyright transfer claiming it was the only way they had the legal right to publish that work, but this is a false narrative provided by publishers.  Authors can grant non-exclusive licenses to to the publisher in order to publish while retaining their full copyrights. Publishers may argue that they can better defend authors from copyright infringement if the publisher holds the copyright, yet they can do this without the copyright as is the the policy with the Royal Society.  There is no support for this myth that copyright transfer is required for publication or is in the best interest of the authors. 

Act: Make sure you fully read any journal's webpage to be sure you understand what rights your retain and if signing over your copyright is required.  You can use the Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine, linked to in the Open Access Myths and Facts section, to create an addendum to a publisher's contract reserving the rights you need. Learn more about copyright by visiting the library's Copyright guide previously mentioned. Also check out the research guide For Authors that provides important information and resources to help you retain your copyrights. 

Myth: Gold open access is synonymous with the Article Publishing Charge (APC) business model. 

Fact:  Gold OA is not the only avenue for publishing work open access. There are four types of open access, gold, green, bronze, and diamond.  Green OA is the ability of authors to self-archive the accepted manuscript (sometimes called postprint) on their personal website or a non-commercial repository, such as DigitalCommons@UNO. This type of open access some times has set policies that accompany the deposit, such as an embargo period, linking to publisher article with DOI, or a specific set statement and citation. Gold OA (usually found in hybrid journals) is the open access model the requires the payment of APCs by the author or institutions or research funders on the author's behalf. Open access publishing agreements, such as those the library offers, are another form of Gold OA.  Bronze OA refers to article made free-to-read on the publisher website, but without any open license - meaning the work can be linked to but not directly shared or posted to other sites. Diamond OA (sometimes called Platinum OA, non-commercial OA, or cooperative OA) refers to the free and open availability of work on the journal website and does not require APCs to publish. Nearly 71-73% of journal listed in DOAJ are diamond OA. An example of diamond OA is the UNO's Journal of Religion and Film hosted by DigitalCommons@UNO. 

Act:  Choose an avenue of OA that is best for you.  With hybrid journals find out what their APC costs are before submitting work.  Also inquire about their policies on Green OA or check to see if the journal is on Sherpa/Romeo that lists out Green OA requirements.  Finally, try to choose Diamond OA when possible to make your research as accessible and discoverable as possible.  

Myth: Embargo period on green open access are needed to sustain publishers.

Fact: Green OA, as mentioned before, it the author's ability to put some version of their work on to their own website or in a non-commercial repository.  This type of OA  is dependent on the publisher's policies, which tend to be more restrictive and complicated.  Many policies require an embargo period giving sole access for the duration of the embargo to the publisher's access system - aka pay to read - in order to for the publisher to negate loss of income.  Yet, there is very little evidence to support that embargos prevent loss since journals that make submissions immediately available through green OA rarely see a decline in journal subscriptions.  Unfortunately these embargo periods, lasting from 6 to 24 months, do not seem to be based any any evidence of the effect of embargos on journal subscriptions. The have been times when publishers have lifted embargos on specific topics in times of crisis, for example publisher's lifted embargos on outbreaks and the Zika virus research during the Zika outbreak in 2015.  Although this is an act of good will and commendable, it also serves to acknowledge that embargos stifle access and the progression of research.   In fact, non-barrier dissemination of work has a positive impact on both authors and publishers by increased citations. The fact that most repositories and author use a DOI to link back to the publisher's version of record essentially is free marketing for the journal and publisher. 

Act: If you plan to submit and use green OA as your avenue to open access, first find out the journal's self-archiving policies.  As mentioned before, Sherpa/Romeo is a great place to start.  Try to find journals that do not place embargos on your work.

Myth: Publishers add no value to the scholarly communication process.

Fact:  Many OA advocates grow frustrated with the perceived notions that scholarly publishers refuse to change.  These proponents often argue that for profit scholarly publishers monetize publicly-funded research, use free academic labor for article creation and peer review, and then sell back this work to academia for insanely inflated profits. This tends to lead to the idea that scholarly publishers add no value, but this isn't the case.  Although publishers may have been slow to change and adopt open access many have created policies, such as those for self-archiving (green OA), to support open access. And publishers do add value by organizing the system from to submission to publication, copy-editing, steering academic literature, stewarding the scholarly record, proof-reading, type-setting, managing peer review, and add a degree of quality assurance.  Is there room for improvement and progress, of course.  Publishing could be done a a lower cost, processes could be more transparent, and subscription pricing could be made more accessible.  As OA and scholarly research continues to evolve, for profit scholarly publishers will need to justify the intrinsic value they add.

Act: Support OA initiatives whenever possible, as this support will ultimately lead the current scholarly publishing industry to be more open and accessible. 

 

The above information came from the below article that is licensed through CC BY.

Tennant JP, Crane H, Crick T, Davila J, Enkhbayar A, Havemann J, Kramer B, Martin R, Masuzzo P, Nobes A, Rice C, Rivera-López BS, Ross-Hellauer T, Sattler S, Thacker P, Vanholsbeeck M. 2019. Ten myths around open scholarly publishing. PeerJ Preprints 7:e27580v1 

 

"Ten Myths around open scholarly publishing" by J.P. Tennant, H. Crane, T. Crick, J. Davila, A. Enkhbayar, J. Havemann, B. Kramer, R. Martin, P. Masuzzo, A. Nobes, C. Rice, B.S. Rivera-Lopez, T. Ross-Hellauer, S. Sattler, P. Thacker, & M. Vanholsbeeck is licensed under CC BY 4.0