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Open Access Publishing

Conventional academic publishing models are rooted in a print-based information ecosystem in which scarce knowledge resources were disseminated in physical formats. Today’s information ecosystem of networked computing has opened up extraordinary new possibilities for how researchers can create, share, and access scholarship. Concurrently, publisher consolidation and an explosion in worldwide research have resulted in an unsustainable marketplace for scholarly publishing. Due to the volume of new scholarship and the rapidly inflating subscription rates that publishers are charging libraries, conventional publishing models are breaking down.In their place, new models are emerging.

At their core, these new models for academic publishing rely on the principle of Open Access (OA). As defined by SPARC, OA refers to the “free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment.” OA publishing models do not eliminate the costs inherent to reviewing, filtering, editing, formatting, distributing, and archiving scholarship in digital formats, but these models do aim to remap processes and relationships among stakeholders in ways that reduce costs by maximizing efficiencies.

The two most common variations of OA publishing models are:

  • Gold OA: in which the venue of dissemination is an online journal
  • Green OA: in which the venue of dissemination is an institutional repository

Gold OA publishing models are frequently funded through author processing fees. Here, the author or, quite frequently, the sponsor/funder of the author’s research must pay a fee to a publisher in order to cover the costs of peer review and manuscript preparation. In exchange, the publisher makes the author’s article freely accessible online. Publishers that support the Gold OA model include both non-profit and for-profit organizations. Additionally, the journals in which Gold OA articles appear in may consist solely of other OA articles or a mix of some articles that are OA and some articles that require a subscription for access (this latter category of journals is frequently referred to as hybrid journals).

Green OA publishing models entail the author’s submission of a work of scholarship into an online repository. This work of scholarship may be a resource uniquely available on the repository or it may be a copy of work that will be or has been published elsewhere. When it is a copy, the item is referred to as an e-print. An e-print may take the form of a ‘pre-print’ (a paper before it has been refereed) or a ‘post-print’ (after it has been refereed). The e-print may be a journal article, a conference paper, a book chapter, or any other form of research output.

The repositories used for Green OA fall into two categories. A disciplinary repository (e.g., arXiv for physics) typically consists of scholarship within one academic field. An institutional repository, in contrast, can be defined as “a set of services that a university offers to the members of its community for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution and its community members. It is most essentially an organizational commitment to the stewardship of these digital materials, including long-term preservation where appropriate, as well as organization and access or distribution” (Clifford A. Lynch, “The Case for Institutional Repositories” ).

UConn’s institutional repository, Open Commons, holds the intellectual output of the UConn community, and it represents a way for UConn to organize, store, and preserve its research in digital form in a single unified location.