A couple of Open Access Week events

A couple of Open Access Week events were sponsored here at Notre Dame on October 31, and this posting summarizes my experiences.

Many of The Willing plus Nick Shockey and José E. Limón

Morning session

In the morning there was a presentation to library faculty by Nick Shockey (SPARC), specifically on the process of increasing open access publishing, and he outlined five different tactics:

  1. Simple advocacy – Describing what open access publishing is and its philosophical advantages. Unfortunately this approach does not always resonate with the practicalities of everyday promotion and tenure processes.
  2. Education – This goes hand-in-hand with advocacy but may also include how open access has more things in common with traditional publishing than differences. For example, Shockey pointed out the increasing number of mandates from funders to have the results of research funded by them become available via open access. Another success factor in education involves getting a deep level of understanding in faculty. Once this is done resistance is much lower.
  3. Engage scholarly societies – For example, ask the society to open up their back log of published materials as open access materials.
  4. Educate friends and colleagues – We have to understand that not everybody sees the whole problem. There is the perspective of the author, the publisher, and librarian. Each are needed in the scholarly communications process, yet not everybody understands the issues of the other completely. Build relationships between all three of these communities. He also advocated educating students because they can be a catalyst to change.
  5. Make your work open access – This means know your rights, keep your rights, and use your rights. The process is increasingly negotiable.

Finally, Shockey insisted on engaging authors on very real world problems instead of the philosophical issues such as expanding the sphere of knowledge. “Look for and point out tangible benefits of open access including higher citation counts, wider distribution, and the possibility of massive textual analysis.”

Afternoon session

The afternoon session was co-presented by Nick Shockey and José E. Limón. The topic was authors’ rights.

Shockey began by outlining the origination of scholarly journals and how they were originally non-profit enterprises. But as time went on and the publishing increasingly became profit-based, a question needed to be asked, “How well does this new model really serve the people for whom it is needed?” When the prices of some chemistry journals approach $4,200/year, there has got to be a better way.

Knowing author’s rights can help. For example, knowing, understanding, and acting upon the self-archiving rights associated with many journals now-a-days, it is possible to make available versions of published materials in a much wider fashion than ever before, but it does require some extra work — systematic extra work that could be done by libraries.

Shockey also advocated contractual amendments like the one called the Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine [1]. Complete the form with our name, title, and journal. Click the button. Print the form. Sign and send away to the publisher while retaining many of one’s rights automatically.

Finally, Shockey advocated university-wide institutional policies for retaining authors’ rights. “These policies create a broader and wider audiences which are not limited and offer greater visibility.”

José E. Limón (American Studies at the University of Notre Dame) began by confessing the idea of authors’ right has been rather foreign to him, and at the same time the ante is going up in terms of tenure and promotion. No longer is is about publishing a single book. Consequently he believes his knowledge regarding authors’ rights needs to be increased.

Limón went on to regale a personal story about authors’ rights. It began when he discovered an unpublished manuscript at Texas A&M University. It was a novel coauthored by Jovita González and Margaret Eimer which he edited and eventually published under the title of Caballero. Written in the 1930s, this historical novel is set during the Mexican American War and is sometimes called Texas’s Gone with the Wind. After the book was published Limón was approached by Steven Spielberg’s company about movie rights, but after a bit of investigation he discovered he had no rights to the book, but rather the rights remained with Texas A&M. To many in the audience, the story was a bit alarming.

In the end, he had one thing to say, “Academics just do not know.”


Kudos to Nick Shockey and José E. Limón for sharing some of their experiences. “Thank you!” Thanks also go to the ad hoc group in the Hesburgh Libraries who call themselves “The Willing” (Kenneth Kinslow, Parker Ladwig, Collette Mak, Cheryl Smith, Marsha Stevenson, Lisa Welty, and Eric Lease Morgan). Without their help none of this would have happend.

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