The Equitable Access Policy is an exciting development for the University of Maryland and the movement for open access and ethical knowledge distribution. However, we understand that there may be questions about how our policy and other actions that promote open access may affect you and the academic publishing ecosystem.
We hope we have been able to provide answers to some common concerns.
Personal Impact and Metrics
The policy actually increases visibility and accessibility. High-profile journals hide research publications behind paywalls that hinder access by researchers, students, institutions, and the general public who cannot afford to subscribe or license their content. Repositories like DRUM are enhanced with metadata, crawled by Google and other major search engines, and designed to increase the visibility, reputation, and prestige of the University and its faculty. Depositing an article in DRUM in accordance with the policy does not preclude publication in a journal.
Discovery of UMD's scholarly content is available through Google Scholar, but this content is also discoverable in virtually all other commercial search engines like Yahoo and Bing as well as niche search engines like DuckDuckGo and Qwant. DRUM and other OA content is discoverable through open-access indexing services such as CORE (core.ac.uk) and BASE (base-search.net). DRUM data is also harvested by Unpaywall, which makes it available for integration with WorldCat.org and other search interfaces. Unpaywall also offers a browser extension to make discovery of OA versions of articles easy for researchers. We anticipate additional development and indexing opportunities in the future, which will allow for increased discovery and access to open access articles.
To address this concern, we encourage faculty members to include the publisher-based DOIs associated with Versions of Record when they submit their AAMs. The publisher-based DOIs may be added to the DRUM record and can be inserted into the AAM itself. In regard to discoverability, Google Scholar, for example, finds articles across PubMed, ResearchGate, and Harvard's post-print server, and groups duplicate versions together, finding the same article with different DOIs.
The Libraries offer an Open Access Publishing Fund that covers 50% of the article processing charges for UMD authors publishing in most open access journals. There are also a large and growing number of journals that offer open access publishing opportunities without charging APCs. You can learn more about different forms of open access and how to find the right journal for your publishing goals on the Libraries OSS webpages.
Effects on Scholarly Publishing
If many major universities move to this type of policy, the long-term impact will be to lower the cost of academic publishing across the board to more reasonable levels. The largest publishers of scientific and scholarly research realize profits greater than Apple, Microsoft, Google, JPMorgan Chase, and other international technology companies and financial institutions. Reducing the cost of journals would make funds available for monographs, media, digitized primary sources, and other content for the University of Maryland’s programs and research. An institution's policy regarding authors' rights should have no impact on the decisions of publishers who claim to produce peer-reviewed literature.
Under the UMD policy, faculty members are always free to publish in any journal they choose, including gold OA journals. The ability to self-archive peer-reviewed manuscripts shares the OA aims of these journals, while at the same time, has not been shown to have a noticeable negative impact on gold OA journals, which continue to be used for version-of-record publication. We also believe that a positive side effect of this policy is that there should eventually be more money, not less money, in the ecosystem to pay for non-profit gold OA publishing, because open access achieved through green OA reduces the need to pay for subscriptions and APCs from commercial publishers.
Many publishers have now accepted green open access and have issued policies of their own that explicitly support self-archiving of peer-reviewed Author Accepted Manuscripts (AAMs). For example, under SAGE's Green Open Access policy, the "accepted version of the article may be posted in the author's institutional repository and reuse is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses." Some publishers also accept sharing of the published articles (version of record) after a formal embargo period. For example, Wiley's self-archiving policy states: "Authors of articles published in Wiley journals are permitted to self-archive the submitted (preprint) version of the article at any time, and may self-archive the accepted (peer-reviewed) version after an embargo period." Having said this, however, the default license in our Equitable Access policy supersedes publishers' policies. Once the UMD policy is in place, authors can post their AAMs in DRUM without delay.
There are risks involved when knowledge is openly shared, but the benefits and ethical reasons for sharing knowledge equitably outweigh these risks in our view. Our policy mitigates some of these risks as well, through the sharing of work that has already undergone scrutiny through peer review. We believe that greater misinformation can occur when science and the outputs of scholarly research are kept locked behind paywalls or are otherwise inaccessible. Continuing to block content dissemination and keep processes in the dark are not the solutions to these troubling problems. Instead, more transparency and openness in the research community, e.g., through open science, open peer review, etc., could reveal flaws and problematic research faster than before. The UMD community should always look for ways to make research and scientific communication more trustworthy and reliable. Despite examples of retractions and scandals, the movement toward openness and transparency is part of making science better and more trustworthy, which is necessary to increase the general public's trust in our work.
Some scholarly societies have turned over production and distribution of their publications to large commercial publishers. In turn, these publishers have profited considerably from their takeover of scholarly society publishing. Publishers pass on subscription fees, APCs, and other costs to the researchers and institutions that make up societies' memberships. The current funding model for many of these publications, therefore, does little more than shuffle costs and fees among researchers, their societies, and their institutions. This is neither efficient nor sustainable. Academic institutions, publishers, and societies must work together to create new funding models that are fair and sustainable for all stakeholders.
See Naim K, Brundy C, Samberg RG. “Collaborative transition to open access publishing by scholarly societies.” Mol Biol Cell. 2021 Feb 15;32(4):311-313. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E20-03-0178. PMID: 33587648; PMCID: PMC8098815; and “Transitioning Society Publications to Open Access” (2019, August 13). Bridging learned society publishing and open access: An international collaboration and webinar series. Available at: https://tspoa.org/2019/07/30/254/