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Open Access

This guide is to help UNLV authors learn about open access, article processing charges (APCs), avoiding predatory publishers, and open access policies.

UNLV University Libraries Open Access Policy

UNLV University Libraries Open Access Policy

Open access (OA) polices ask or require authors of scholarly works to participate in sharing their works widely and openly. OA policies are typically self-imposed by faculty groups by voting and approving a policy that has undergone significant discussion and deliberation. The policies usually begin by identifying the reason for pursuing a commitment to open access in the opening statement and then follow with one of several models of OA policy - the most common of which is the Harvard style policy. Some examples of policies from UNLV peer (and other) institutions are found in the left column of this page).  Often, OA policies are adopted in support of the greater mission of the institution to reach identified audiences that may not be served well by traditional publishing models. These audiences include researchers at institutions without comprehensive subscriptions to the research literature as well as community and business partners of the institutions who rarely have access to subscription-based research publications.

In 2018 the University Libraries faculty began discussing a unit (library) level policy for themselves. The policy (.pdf) passed successfully in October 2019.  Throughout the course of the conversations leading to the policy, a lot of good questions were raised that can inform others considering such a policy whether at UNLV or elsewhere.

I would like to acknowledge the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions (COAPI) and its OA Policy Toolkit for providing resources that contributed significantly to the information shared during UNLV Libraries discussions about OA policies and on this guide. In particular, the Florida State University and IUPUI Frequently Asked Questions documents were helpful in designing discussion prompts and identifying priorities among the University Libraries Faculty.

Why have an OA policy

Why have a policy at all?

Open access improves dissemination of our work which benefits readers, authors, and UNLV.

Wide dissemination of research is important to society. The capabilities of the online environment we all exist in have far exceeded the traditional publishing model on which the current system is based. Open access enables scholars and readers worldwide access to the information they seek without cost or technical obstacles.

Wide dissemination is important to our peers and the discipline. The UNLV community (faculty and students) have access to wealth of resources that the communities we engage with beyond UNLV typically do not have access to. Additionally, library peers around the country and the world have different access levels to the library literature. We do a lot of good work here, why not share it widely? ACRL, IMLS, IFLA, SAA and other organizations have all endorsed the value of open access through statements, guidelines, and policies. There is no discipline better suited than librarianship to understand the value of high quality information as a public good.

Wide dissemination is important to authors. Making one's work openly available increases the chances ones work will be cited, contributing to success in peer evaluations, grants, and other opportunities that come about as an established scholar.

Wide dissemination is important to UNLV. The Top Tier plan includes "wide dissemination" under the theme Research, Scholarship, & Creative Activity. Committing to open access demonstrates an additional way in which the University Libraries faculty-authors support the Top Tier initiative. Embracing open access is an excellent chance for the library to lead on this element of the Top Tier Plan and perhaps inspire other units to follow suit.

Additionally, wide dissemination doesn't have to be costly. Article processing charges can be hefty (although many open access library and archives journals do not charge APCs). An open access policy supports library faculty authors in their desire to publish in *any* journal and also make those works openly available with no expectation of negotiating with publishers.

Read on to get answers to specific questions about what having an OA policy means and implementation.

Open Access Policy FAQ

OA Policy FAQ for UNLV University Libraries Faculty

What are waivers, how do they work, and who grants them?

Open access policy waivers are provided as an option to any author who, for a specific publication covered under a policy, chooses not to participate. 

A waiver is requested by the author in order to indicate that they do not wish to participate in the policy for the specified publication. They communicate to the party responsible for implementing the policy (in the UNLV Libraries case, likely the SCI department). This may be in the form of an email or more typically via an online form as in this example from the University of Arizona.

While the SCI department (or another designee) would be responsible for tracking the waivers, waivers would be automatically granted under the suggested policy type. In fact, the policy language indicates the designee will waive the application of the license (not "may" or "might" waive, etc.) upon direction by a Faculty member. In other words, the policy inherently grants waivers upon request. No questions asked.

What if I have a co-worker who is not part of the University Libraries?

The policy would still apply. As you are a joint author in the work, you share equal ownership in the copyright of the work (unless another arrangement has been made). This means that you and your co-author may each make decisions about the entirety of the work. If your co-author objects to sharing the work under an open access policy, you would be able to get a waiver as described above.

You may find that your co-authors would also like to comply with their own institutional or department OA policy and it is unlikely that these policies will conflict with each other as they typically request a non-exclusive license. Similarly, public access policies of federal granting agencies (NIH, NSF, etc.) won't conflict with a library OA policy.

What types of works does the policy cover?

SCI is proposing that the policy cover research articles and conference proceedings. This is in-line with what many other institutions have done and we believe it is wise to follow established precedent.

That said,  the more open access works the better. If you would like to make your book chapter, book, poster, slide deck, or other research product available as open access, this policy does not preclude you from doing so and Digital Scholarship@UNLV is already set up to include these types of works.

There are two key reasons for the focus on articles and conference proceedings:

  • These are refereed and peer-reviewed works often otherwise unavailable to non-subscribers
  • They typically do not provide an income stream for the authors (as books do for example)

Where can I get copyright transfer agreement negotiation support?

Reach out to SCI. Andrea has been thinking and teaching about author rights and copyright transfer agreements since 2009. I have consulted with several library and other faculty since joining UNLV and am happy to talk with you. 

One thing that makes a policy great is that for the purposes of posting work in an open access repository, rarely do you need to negotiate that permission. Without a policy, negotiation is more frequently needed. With a policy, you may disagree with other aspects of the copyright transfer agreement and wish to negotiate, but for the purposes of putting your work in a repository like DigitalScholarship@UNLV, you would not need to (there's always an exception).

Of course, I am not a lawyer and copyright agreements are legal documents. I can help you read through the agreement, reach out to other scholarly communication colleagues for advice, and more, but I will stop short of telling you exactly how to respond to a particular publisher's copyright transfer expectations.

How much work will I have to do as a result of this policy?

The primary aspect of the workload for faculty authors is to supply a final peer reviewed manuscript for articles published in subscription-based journals. In order to do this effectively, we recommend that you keep track of your draft versions of your final accepted manuscripts and share them with us (likely by email) once they are complete, before the journal provides any copyediting or branding of the article document. There may be a few exceptions to this. Some subscription-based journals allow the use of the published version in repositories. We will use that version when possible - and when this is the case, you will not need to share a manuscript version with us.

If we have not heard from you and we learn of your publication through one of our database publication alerts, we will contact you to ask for the manuscript.

If you've published in an open access journal, we will use the final published version in Digital Scholarship@UNLV rather than the manuscript.

Related to the workload for faculty authors, some wondered: Can SCI handle the work to support the policy?

Yes, we can!

In the last few years we've added 1000's of metadata-only records to the repository as part of the UNLV Bibliography. This is a process that SCI dedicates a lot of resources to already and adding the open access text to these records is a relatively minor addition to the workload. In fact, we believe the bibliography is better with the open access content attached!

This year, we significantly improved our efforts to reach out to authors whose work is listed in the bibliography to encourage them to share a final manuscript of their work (although we are currently limited by publishers' existing policies to do this). Our process, if an OA policy is passed, will remain the same for the time being for most of campus. However, if library policy is passed, library faculty will have the flexibility to contribute even more full text open access records beyond publishers' existing allowances for scholarly sharing.

My publisher offers OA for a fee. How does this relate to the policy?

If you choose to publish in an open access journal that is fantastic, however it is not required or expected of you and is not a requirement of the policy.  If the journal charges a fee for open access publication, check to see if you have support from the library or your granting agency for payment of the fees.

Would the policy mean that faculty authors would give copyright to UNLV, University Libraries, or NSHE?

No, the policy relies on your copyright ownership to provide the license required for the library to post a manuscript version of your work online, in Digital Scholarship@UNLV.  The policy grants non-exclusive permissions to the institution. After that license is granted, you may choose to keep your copyright or transfer it to a publisher or other entity as you do now.  Transferring copyright to a publisher, after the non-exclusive license is granted to the institution, does not revoke the license granted to the institution when you owned copyright.

OA Policy Presentation (Nov 2018)

The slides below are from the initial OA policy discussion held by the library faculty in November of 2018.  You may enlarge the slides for better viewing by clicking on the full screen icon at the bottom of the slides. This will open a full size view.

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