UC Signs Open Access Publishing Deal

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The University of California libraries have entered into an agreement with Springer Science+Business Media to publish faculty journal articles and allow free, open access to them.

The deal is the first large-scale open access publishing experiment in North America, and will allow articles accepted for publication in a Springer journal to be read online by the general public.

Ivy Anderson, director of collections at the California Digital Library in the UC Office of the President, said that the agreement was pursued after discussions between university faculty and libraries revealed a common incentive to broaden academic discourse through open-access publishing.

"The goal of the agreement is to promote the dissemination of research activity at the university in support of education, research and public access to information," she said.

According to Eric Merkel-Sobotta, Springer's executive vice president of corporate communications, the journal has been at the forefront of open access publishing since 2004.

Although open access publishing has raised controversy over its viability as a business model, Springer has successfully set up similar contracts with a consortium of Dutch university libraries and the University of Gottingen in Germany in 2007.

"Who are we to tell our customers what they want to do with their articles?" Merkel-Sobotta said. "If people want this we are certainly going to try and give them what they want."

According to Merkel-Sobotta, Springer charges $3,000 to publish a single article, a percentage of which goes to the journal to which the article was submitted.

The deal was struck at no additional cost to the university, according to Anderson, as regular licensing fees paid to journals by the university have been made into subsidies put toward publishing articles for open access.

Anderson said submitting an article for open access will not disrupt the existing publishing process, a potential concern for some faculty members and researchers. Articles will still undergo peer review, and only the final draft will be made available online.

The UC libraries have set up a task force to generate awareness for open access publishing among UC faculty and so far, Anderson says, feedback has been positive.

Students could also feel the perks of open access publishing, as the price of course readers will likely go down due to the elimination of copyright royalties generally attached to reprinted articles, Anderson said.

But Merkel-Sobotta says it is too early to tell if open access will be a success. Springer has not seen an increase in article submissions, and of the 130,000 articles published by Springer each year, only about 3,000-5,000 of them are submitted for open access.

Still, Merkel-Sobotta has high expectations for open access's future at the University of California.

"Because it's such a big and prestigious school, provided the information is given to faculty in a clear and expedient way, we think there will be a huge increase in submissions," he said.


Contact Anna Widdowson at [email protected]

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