Sharing, curating, and preserving scholarship is imperative for the advancement of research, just as openness is central to the development of new modes of teaching and learning.
All tertiary institutions pay annual fee based on their Carnegie (or similar) classification and number of FTE faculty and students.
Partnerships: Scholarly Societies, Libraries, Publishers
Partnerships among scholarly societies, libraries, publishers, and others receive stable annual funding to support operations, convert research output to open access, and embrace new forms and formats of scholarly communication.
Scholarly Communication Infrastructure
Together these mission-driven alliances develop infrastructure and best practices needed to support open and dynamic scholarly information ecosystem.
What is open access?
Open access (OA) is free, immediate, unrestricted online access to digital research and scholarly work. OA does not in any way run contrary to conventional scholarly practice; it is compatible with copyright, peer review, print, preservation, prestige, quality, career advancement, indexing, and even revenue generation. The primary difference is that the costs of production are not paid by readers or other users of the work and all access barriers to that work have been removed.
What is the Open Access Network?
The Open Access Network is a transformative model of open access (OA) publishing and preservation that encourages partnerships among scholarly societies, research libraries, and other institutional partners (e.g., collaborative e-archives and university presses) who share a common mission to support the creation and distribution of research and scholarship and encourage affordable education.
The Open Access Network includes a plan to convert traditional subscription publication formats, including society- or university press–published journals and books or monographs, to OA; however, our ultimate goal is to provide an approach to funding that is fair and open and fully sustains the infrastructure needed to support the full life-cycle for communication of the scholarly record, including new and evolving forms of research output. Simply put, we intend to Make Knowledge Public.
Why should open access matter to administrators, faculty, and students?
In addition to its contribution in lowering some of the costs of education, open access can also help to address the challenges of lifelong learning.
One of the foremost goals of education is to create lifelong learners, those who value the ongoing pursuit of knowledge, whether for personal or professional reasons, understanding that acquisition of knowledge is not restricted to the classroom and application of that knowledge is not limited to the workplace. Institutions expend enormous resources to provide their students with a veritable cornucopia of content and the training to discover and use that content — access to which most of them lose immediately upon graduation.
Scholarly content is not created solely for use by the elite specialist; rather, it is meant to be read, considered, and discussed by those who have learned to appreciate the subject matter. The increase in opportunities for online learning and continuing adult education makes ready access to open educational resources a necessity.
Even more reason to support open access to scholarly output? Lifelong learners tend to enter and remain in higher-paying careers and have considerable monetary, cultural, and entrepreneurial impact on society. OA is not just a public good, but good for the public as well.
How is the Open Access Network different from all the other OA initiatives out there?
- We are looking to academic and research institutions to fund this model, not solely to their libraries. The dollar amounts provided in the originally proposed model in our white paper may look large to a library, but are modest at an institutional scale.
- We want full participation from the entire global higher education community, from small community colleges to large research universities alike.
- Our plan is intentionally incremental, acknowledging the inherent conservatism of academia. It also suggests employing traditional roles in evolving ways.
- Our model enables scholarly societies and university presses to develop the strategies they need to continue to provide their members with services that are useful and meaningful without reliance on subscription revenue.
- Our plan allows all the partners in the scholarly communication ecosystem to begin to work together to agree on best practices, not only for infrastructure, metadata, etc., but for their business approaches as well.
For all that, we consider the Open Access Network to be complementary rather than competitive with other OA initiatives and models. Because our goal is to provide a financial mechanism to support sustainable infrastructure (from creation to preservation) for all the outputs of the scholarly endeavor, the projects supported by the Open Access Network can be as varied as the scholarly activities that produce them. Our emphasis at this time on societies and university presses as the linchpins of scholarly communication and our insistence on partnerships among stakeholders means that many independently produced products and projects would continue to develop outside the funding mechanism we propose.
Give me the elevator pitch.
The rapid changes in technology that affect the way research, scholarship, teaching, and learning are done, combined with the ever-increasing financial pressures on institutions of higher education and on their students, require collective and global support of the entire scholarly communication infrastructure and for all its participants, moving from the current cost-per-unit pricing model that works for only particular forms and formats of research output and for only particular stages in the communication workflow. It’s only by working together, with participation from all who contribute and from those who benefit, that we can hope to transform the system at scale.
Your white paper presents an intriguing proposal in theory, but might be problematic in practice. How set in stone is the model you proposal?
Some elements of the model outlined in the white paper — the widespread adoption of a simple, fair, and transparent mechanism for funding sustainable open access scholarly communication to which all tertiary institutions contribute in some way and an insistence on partnerships among stakeholders in the scholarly endeavor — are core to the Open Access Network. Details such as the annual fee structure, mechanisms for reviewing proposals, disciplinary focus of the projects, tax status of the partners and constellation of those partnerships, accommodation of international differences in research funding practices, and so on, will be worked out in practice through conversations and practical input from stakeholders and other thought leaders and will undoubtedly change and evolve over time. The development of our membership program in response to community feedback urging us to adopt existing mechanisms that could be easily leveraged to provide seed funding indicates our complete willingness to incorporate practical suggestions that contribute to successful implementation.
How can I get involved?
- Become an open-access advocate, personally and professionally: Read your author agreements and retain your rights. Publish in a reputable open-access journal or with an open-access-friendly publisher. And participate regularly in the scholarly conversation, both face to face and via social media.
- Reach out to your colleagues and campus administrators. Help them better understand the issues. Coordinate messaging with us and with other local, national, and international OA advocates. Organize and participate in events.
- We welcome your help! Contact us at any time via Twitter or email.
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