How to make your published articles open access

Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg_-192x300For Open Access Week I’m collaborating with Jeri Wieringa and Claudia Holland of GMU Libraries to run “How to make your published articles open access,” a hands-on workshop intended to help scholars use the university’s institutional repository to make their research more widely available. I put together the workshop in part because most historical journals resolutely remain behind paywalls, leaving it to authors to take the initiative in making their work open access. And whatever historians think of open access journals, they are generally interested in their work being visible and available to as many readers as possible. I also put together the workshop because I had just put my own publications in the GMU institutional repository.

The workshop goes through the process of making a published journal article open access, addressing [See workshop ppt]:

  • What versions of your articles can you make open access?
    • Generally, the answer is a pre-print (the version prior to peer review) or a post-print (the final version submitted by the author, after review and revision, but before copyediting). Publishers usually specify some text to be added to a post-print to identify that it is not the published version. Less often a publisher allows you to make available a pdf of the published article
  • When can you make your articles open access?
    • Some publishers allow a post-print to be made available immediately, but many impose an embargo period – 12 or 24 months in the case of those journals in which I have published
  • Where can you make your articles open access?
    • In almost all cases, ONLY in an institutional repository, and less often also on a personal website – so not on, for example. That obviously does not prevent you from linking from another site to the institutional repository, as I do from both my blog and my profile
  • What can you do with open access articles in an institutional repository?

Ideally, you find the answers to these questions in the author agreements that you sign. I don’t have copies of the agreements for my older publications, or remember their terms. Instead, I consulted SHERPA/RoMEO, a searchable database of publisher’s policies funded by the Wellcome Trust and JISC, and run by the University of Nottingham.

I’d love to have time to replicate the experiment with social media that Melissa Terras undertook when she deposited her publications in an institutional repository, but instead I’m settling for tweeting links to the articles throughout this week. None of these publications relate to explicitly to digital humanities, and I have only a fraction of Terras’ twitter followers, so I’d be surprised to see any significant uptick in downloads of the articles – but we’ll see…

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