Over the past several weeks, Baker-Berry Library has hosted a variety of events aimed at informing students and faculty about the open access movement, a national campaign to make scholarship freely accessible worldwide. The events culminated in Open Access Week, which concludes Friday.
The open access movement, triggered by a recent increase in the cost of journal subscriptions, has prompted academic institutions across the country to reevaluate their publishing practices. The high cost of academic journal subscriptions, known as the "serial crisis," prohibits many people from reading published research. Supporters of the open access movement argue that free access could allow people who would otherwise be excluded from academia to engage with scholarly work.
In recent years, publishers have bundled articles together in journals and sold them to institutions at high rates. The costs are even higher for universities because they supply the published material to an entire campus of students and faculty.
But journals could get away with this high subscription pricing because of their monopoly over academic research. With the advent of the Internet, open access became a viable publishing model, said Barbara DeFelice, organizer of the College's Open Access Week.
"While we have this digital means of distribution, we don't have to publish them in print, and ship them and store them anymore, so we don't have those costs," DeFelice said.
In 2003, the Max Planck Society, a research organization, hosted a conference that penned the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in Science and the Humanities, which now has over 451 signatures from scholarly organizations.
In the future, some federally funded research will be made open access and distributed through open digital libraries, DeFelice said.
Dean of Libraries Jeffrey Horrell said academics, who wish to retain rights over their scholarship, have given the movement a boost in recent years.
"When the faculty wants to put it on their website, have the students in their class read it or have the library put it up on electronic reserves, there's oftentimes a fee to do that, which seems very contradictory," Horrell said.
Open Access Week aims to inform faculty that open access journals will allow academics to preserve their rights over their scholarship.
Because open access journals require money to pay for the cost of publishing and peer review, these journals charge authors a publishing fee. While there are still relatively few open access journals, their number is growing.
"It's going to cost someone, either the libraries or the institutions themselves, to be able to support peer-reviewed scholarship," Horrell said.
The week's events hosted by Baker-Berry included lectures titled "Publishing Essentials" and "Know Your Copyrights." On Monday, the library hosted a watch party for a panel discussion on open access hosted by the World Bank.
In a display of support for open access, Dartmouth will aid in the launch of Elementa: Science of the Antropocene, an open access publishing platform. The journal will make its articles publicly available but charge scholars a fee to pay for its daily operations.
Biology professor David Peart will co-edit Sustainability Transitions, a domain of Elementa that will be entirely based at Dartmouth. He said in an email that open access would expand the scope of academic research to anyone with Internet and reduce the cost paid by society to for-profit publishers such as Elsevier Academic Press.
"Democratization of knowledge requires open access," he said.
He cited inertia, established journals' prestige and a tricky business model as roadblocks, but noted that Baker-Berry will subsidize publishing costs for faculty who choose to publish in open access journals.
Dartmouth's Council on the Libraries recently proposed an open access resolution that has yet to be enacted but will establish an accessible repository for faculty and student articles. In this way, scholarship will be preserved at the College, just as printed material has been held in Hanover for centuries.