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Scholarly Communication Services : Open access

Helping scholars navigate shifting publishing, intellectual property, and information policy landscapes in ways that promote research dissemination, accessibility, and impact

About open access

“Why can’t I read this article?”

Open Access eyeglass logoTraditionally, access to scholarly literature has been available only to institutions or people with subscriptions to the publishing journal. These subscriptions are not just expensive, but also increasingly out of reach even for the largest research universities. Largely, the demand for online literature has not changed this result: If your institution has a subscription to the journal in print, then you may also have access to electronic versions of the articles. But if you don't have a subscription (or have subscription access through an institution), online access is often available only behind a “paywall” — that is, if you are willing to pay money to read the particular article. 

How does Open Access change things?

Transforming this system to one based on open access (OA) to scholarship means making peer-reviewed literature available online without any financial, legal, or technical barriers other than gaining access to the internet.

Eliminating barriers to readership enables everyone to have access to the research they need. A world without scholarship paywalls also advances knowledge, promotes progress, and maximizes research impact and return on investment.

OA is at its most effective in serving these goals where the scholarship is also made available with the fewest possible restrictions on reuse, thereby facilitating broad dissemination, constructive engagement, and broader educational possibilities. In other words: OA scholarship that is not merely “available online” for free to read, but also free from a rights perspective to use freely and build upon.

OA history

For decades, many scholars, researchers, funders, students, and others have desired this open outcome. In 2002, the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) helped launch a global campaign for all new peer-reviewed literature to be made available OA. The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge (“Berlin Declaration”) echoed this mission again in 2003, and various endeavors since then redoubled efforts to achieve these aims. As a result of these and other efforts, today approximately 15% of journal articles are OA at the time they are published.

Through the 2013 UC Academic Senate and 2015 Presidential OA policies, the University of California similarly expressed strong commitments to advancing knowledge and facilitating accessibility and impact for the incredible scholarship produced on UC campuses.

How does OA publishing work?

Publishing a scholarly article or book OA does not mean foregoing peer review or any of the other stringent editorial processes that ensure high quality scholarship. (In fact, peer review can be even carried out in more cost effective ways for OA journals.) Rather, at its core, OA is an outcome: Scholarship is published online in a way that can be read and used by anyone, and without any financial, legal, or technical barriers other than gaining access to the internet. 

So, the question, instead, is: How is OA funded? If we replace the subscription system with OA end products, who gets paid and how? The Library is a key stakeholder in evaluating, supporting, and advancing sustainable OA publishing models. We discuss many of them below.

Access models

Two of the predominant ways that articles or monographs can be published openly online are “Gold Open Access” and “Green Open Access.”

Gold Open Access: Gold OA provides immediate access to the final, publisher-version of the article on the publisher's journal website. Some Gold OA publishers recoup production costs via charges for authors to publish (“article processing charges” or “book processing charges”) rather than having readers (or libraries) pay to access and read it. This is a system in which “author pays,” rather than “reader pays.” The fees to be paid by the author can be covered by various sources, such as: research accounts, research grants, the university, the library, scholarly societies, and consortia. Production costs can also be offset by the sale of memberships, add-ons, and enhanced services by the publisher. Note that many “OA publishers” actually operate under a “hybrid” model in which they charge the library for a subscription, and ask authors to pay APCs. This results in a situation for the publishers often referred to as “double dipping,” since publishers are paid twice.

Green Open Access: Also known as self-archiving, in the Green OA model authors upload a final author version of their manuscript to a repository, but usually it is not the publisher’s final formatted version. This facilitates access to the content of a particular article, but not the journal, itself. UC’s Open Access Policy fosters OA in this fashion. Green OA can be supported through institutional, funder, government, or other funds dedicated toward creating and maintaining a repository.

Funding

We talked above about the two predominant OA access models. Let’s dig a bit more into funding options to make those models work.

  • Paying publishers an Article Processing Charge when an article is accepted for publication. The fee serves to finance publication to replace what the journal otherwise would have received under a subscription model. This is how publishers like the Public Library of Science (PLoS) and eLife are funded today. 
  • Library consortia paying negotiated amounts to publishers to make a defined set of journals Open Access. This model is currently in place for High Energy Physics with the SCOAP3 initiative — a partnership of over 3,000 libraries, key funding agencies and research centers in 44 countries and three intergovernmental organizations, as well as leading publishers in that discipline.
  • Paying publishers a membership fee that cover publication costs for a term. This is an innovative funding approach by newer publishers like PeerJ.
  • Supporting newer publishing platforms for scholarly journals and/or preprint archives that operate at very low cost and are subsidized by library membership fees. The Open Library of the Humanities operates on this business model.
  • Journals that operate entirely free of cost to authors or readers, thanks to endowments and subsidies from non-profit societies, philanthropic organizations, research institutions, or government agencies.

New funding approaches continue to emerge. UC Berkeley is committed to exploring these evolving models to achieve approaches that are both sustainable and reduce barriers to access and re-use.

What about OA books?

Check out our page on Open & Affordable Books @UC Berkeley.

While many scholars in the humanities and social sciences publish in OA journals, they also publish scholarly books, termed “monographs”. These books become a critical component of professional credentialing, yet their readership is limited by the same kinds of access barriers endemic to subscription-based journals: The scholarly books are quite expensive, and increasingly fewer libraries can afford to purchase them.

University presses’ funding models for financing OA books are innovative and evolving. UC Press’ Luminos program, for instance, is formulated as a partnership in which costs and benefits are shared by member organizations. Many academic publishers also offer a print or print-on-demand version of the book for sale to readers who prefer hard copies, further enabling cost recovery through traditional print sales. 

At their core, most OA book funding models typically charge academic authors the equivalent of an APC. Given the greater investment needed to create and edit longer and more complex manuscripts, the book processing charges (BPCs) can range upwards of $7000. At UC Berkeley, we can help subsidize those fees through our BRII program so that authors’ out-of-pocket is zero or substantially reduced, with the upshot being that the resulting literature is available to all. We can also help you create an open book for free, using platforms like PressbooksEDU.

OA at UC

Open Access literature is free, digital, and available to anyone online. With barrier-free access, researchers from anywhere in the world can read the scholarly output of other authors. The UC is committed to these aims, and is working toward them in part through open access policies.

UC policies

The Academic Senate of the University of California adopted an Open Access Policy on July 24, 2013, ensuring that future research articles authored by faculty at all 10 UC campuses will be made available to the public at no charge. On October 23, 2015, a Presidential Open Access Policy expanded open access rights and responsibilities to all other authors who write scholarly articles while employed at UC, including non-senate researchers, lecturers, post-doctoral scholars, administrative staff, librarians, and graduate students.

Pursuant to these policies, UC Berkeley faculty, staff, and students can make a copy of their scholarship available in UC’s open access repository, called eScholarship because a license is reserved for the university to preserve and post an author final version (post-print).

The UC system-wide Office of Scholarly Communications also has a helpful guide on both the OA policies and depositing.

FAQs about UC policies

Who and what is covered by these policies?

The UC’s open access policies cover everyone who authors scholarly articles while employed by UC.

Policies covering Academic Senate faculty were adopted in 2013, and a Presidential policy covering all other UC authors was issued October 23, 2015. 

The policies cover scholarly articles for which you signed publication agreements after the policy’s adoption or issuance. These effective dates are:

  • Presidential OA Policy covering all non-Senate UC employees: October 23, 2015

  • Berkeley-wide Academic Senate OA Policy: July 24, 2013

Whether and how you can share articles online that pre-date your policy depends on the terms of the original publishing agreements you signed. If you have questions, please contact us: schol-comm@berkeley.edu.

What if I can’t or need to wait to deposit my articles?

In limited instances based on publisher policy, you may wish or need to delay public access to your articles in eScholarship until a chosen time period has passed after the article is published.  This is called “embargoing” the public release of your scholarship.

In certain other limited instances, a small number of publishers will not authorize the deposit of scholarship into eScholarship altogether. For these publishers, you would need to get a “waiver” of the OA policy’s deposit requirement. 

The UC-wide Office of Scholarly Communication can help you with these infrequent occurrences. Please consult their guidance to: Get a Waiver/Embargo.

OA at Berkeley

For decades, scholars, researchers, funders, the taxpaying public, and others have desired that research be accessible online without paywall barriers in order to advance knowledge, promote progress, and maximize research impact and return on investment. The Library is a key stakeholder in advancing all of these open access initiatives. Here are just some of the ways we support you in publishing open access at UC Berkeley.

Put a copy in a repository

Deposit in eScholarship.org

UC Berkeley faculty, staff, students (and departments!) can make a copy of their scholarship available in UC’s open access repository, called eScholarship.

This is because the Academic Senate of the University of California adopted an Open Access Policy on July 24, 2013, ensuring that future research articles authored by faculty at all 10 campuses of UC will be made available to the public at no charge. On October 23, 2015, a Presidential Open Access Policy expanded open access rights and responsibilities to all other authors who write scholarly articles while employed at UC, including non-senate researchers, lecturers, post-doctoral scholars, administrative staff, librarians, and graduate students.

The UC system-wide Office of Scholarly Communications has a helpful guide on both the OA policies and how to make deposits of post-prints — peer-reviewed versions of scholarship prior publisher formatting — into eScholarship. To quickly get started, just follow their link for: Deposit your work

Using other repositories 

You may choose to deposit your manuscript in a repository other than eScholarship. Or, if you prefer, eScholarship can be one of several repositories where you deposit your materials. Here are a few discipline-specific repositories worth considering; to find more, check out OpenDOAR (the Directory of Open Access Repositories).

  • ArXiv: e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics
  • SocArXiv: Platform for social scientists to upload working papers, pre-prints, published papers, data, and code
  • PsyArXiv: Psychological sciences pre-prints
  • LawArXiv: Pre-prints for legal scholarship
  • bioRXiv: Pre-prints for biological sciences
  • HumanitiesCommons: Through its CORE feature, offers a repository for the humanities
  • PubMed Central: Repository for biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine

If your author agreement permits it, you may choose to add your manuscript to a social networking research platform like MendeleyResearchGate, or Academia.edu. These networks can help generate interest and readership for your work. Just keep in mind that many of these scholarly profiling tools are not geared toward actually preserving a copy of your work. So, to ensure that a copy of your work remains publicly available, it’s best to make sure you also deposit a copy in your institutional repository (such as eScholarship.org).

Publish in an open access journal

Get help to defray article processing charges

If you are publishing in a fully open access journal, the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII) can reimburse your fees paid for article processing charges (APCs). Publishers use APCs to replace revenue the publisher would have generated via library subscriptions if access to the journal had been licensed by the library for campus readers. BRII began in 2008 by redirecting a small amount of Library collections funds to help authors cover these APCs for open access journals so that Berkeley authors could participate in the wider dissemination that OA publishing offers.

To read about eligibility and submit a form for reimbursement of your APC, check out our BRII guide. It will walk you through the easy application process. The BRII program is open to authors in any discipline, and especially encourages applicants from the humanities and social sciences.

Note that the BRII program reimburses for APCs when you publish in fully open access journals. Unfortunately, BRII can’t reimburse for publishing in “hybrid” OA journals — ones that charge us for a subscription for read access, and an additional payment to make a copy open access — because of the double payment situation that creates for the Library. 

Publish open access through a UC-wide transformative agreement

The University of California has entered into several transformative open access agreements with publishers. Over time, these arrangements facilitate a cost-effective transition from paying for subscriptions to paying to publish open access articles. Typically these agreements provide free reading access to the UC community, and support open access publishing by UC authors by defraying some or all of the article processing charges. 

Here are the UC-wide transformative agreements in which authors can take part: 

Other APC discounts and waivers

As a member of the UC Berkeley community, you may also be entitled to other discounts off of many APCs through our membership and license agreements. For more information, see the UC-wide list of publisher discounts. And at UC Berkeley, we also have membership arrangements with MDPI and other publishers that offer instant discounts to UC Berkeley authors.

Publish an open access book

Get help to defray book processing charges

While many scholars in the humanities and social sciences publish in OA journals, they also publish scholarly books (sometimes called “monographs”). These books become a critical component of professional credentialing, yet their readership is limited by the same kinds of access barriers endemic to subscription-based journals: The scholarly books are quite expensive, and increasingly fewer libraries can afford to purchase them. The Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII) can also help UC Berkeley authors publish open access books, thus supporting long-form scholarship that can be read by anyone at no cost. BRII covers up to $10,000 of a book processing charge.

In addition to BRII, UC Berkeley and Springer Nature signed an agreement to support open access book publishing. The agreement will provide open access funding to UC Berkeley affiliated book authors, and will cover a broad range of titles across all disciplines — from humanities and social sciences to sciences, technology, medicine and mathematics. 

Grants to create open textbooks/open educational resources (OERs)

We continue to offer a limited number of grants to UC Berkeley instructors for the adoption, adaption, and creation of open textbooks. Contact schol-comm@berkeley.edu to discuss whether this program might be right for your project. For more information, see the page on open and affordable course materials

Open access book creation and hosting platform

Pressbooks is a digital publishing platform that makes it easy for UC Berkeley authors to create and share open access books and instructional materials. The service is available for anyone with an active @berkeley.edu email address via the UC Berkeley Open Book Publishing Platform. Pressbooks features professionally-designed templates, flexible and customizable licensing, and tools to maximize accessibility.

Other ways we support open access publishing

In addition to the direct financial support for UC Berkeley authors described above, the Library is engaged in several strategic projects — including investments, memberships, and leadership — to improve open access publishing for the entire community. 

Support for journal transitions

We provide guidance for journal editorial boards, authors, and scholarly societies seeking to transition their journals to open access. We have co-authored the guides and toolkits available through the UC systemwide Office of Scholarly Communication website, and offer individual consultations. If you'd like to discuss transitioning your journal to open access, please email us at schol-comm@berkeley.edu.

We helped create the group Transitioning Society Publications to OA (TSPOA), where we “facilitate OA publishing by society journals by providing support, advocacy, and referral services within the library and scholarly publishing communities and related professional organizations.” TSPOA has partnered with LYRASIS to develop the Open Access Community Investment Program, “a community-driven framework that enables multiple stakeholders (including funders, institutions, libraries, authors, and editors) to efficiently and strategically evaluate and collectively fund open access content initiatives.” 

Strategic memberships and investments

Our efforts to support sustainable OA publishing means incorporating OA principles into our acquisitions and collections policies.

As noted above, we have set up memberships with publishers (e.g. PeerJMDPI, and Sage Journals) to offer APC discounts for UC Berkeley authors. Likewise, UC Berkeley is a member of UC Press’ Luminos, which subsidizes OA book publishing charges, and offers a significant discount for UC authors who have a book accepted for publication and wish to make it open access.

We also eagerly acquire, subscribe to, and catalog open access books, articles, and other media. Searching our Library catalog will yield thousands upon thousands of books and materials that are openly available — often based on our subscription to or participation in a number of open access endeavors, such as: 

We are committed to and actively pursuing efforts to greatly expand the corpus of open access content in our collections, and welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Chairing and supporting UC systemwide efforts 

Our Office of Scholarly Communication Services has chaired and supported a number of UC system-wide efforts to support a wide-scale transition to open access.

Open Access Investment Working Group

In 2019, UC Berkeley Library’s Collection Services Council charged a working group to develop local best practices to guide investment in open access products and services. Advancing open access to scholarship is one of the Library’s key goals, and addressing how and when UCB invests in OA resources and materials is one path to supporting this priority. In May 2020, the working group completed its report, recommending key criteria and a workflow for evaluating open access investment opportunities. 

Pathways to Open Access 2018 Toolkit

We chaired the creation of the 2018 Pathways to Open Access toolkit to advance data-driven decision-making on scholarly communication issues. Prepared on behalf of the University of California (UC) libraries and the California Digital Library, the Pathways toolkit analyzes the many approaches and strategies for advancing the large-scale transition to OA, and identifies possible next action steps for UC system-wide investment and experimentation.

Choosing Pathways to OA (CP2OA) Forum

On October 16-17, 2018, we chaired the University of California libraries working forum in Berkeley, California, called Choosing Pathways to Open Access (CP2OA). Sponsored by the University of California’s Council of University Librarians (CoUL), the forum was designed to enable North American library and consortium leaders and key academic stakeholders to engage in action-focused deliberations about redirecting subscription and other funds toward sustainable open access publishing. The goal was for everyone to leave with their own customized plans for how they will repurpose subscription spends within their home organizations or communities — and more broadly, through collective efforts, move the OA needle forward.

The CP2OA Planning Committee prepared a report to CoUL analyzing forum outcomes. Our report also synthesizes forum outcomes into recommendations for further collective action by CoUL to advance open access.

OA2020’s Expression of Interest

OA2020 is one of several international movements aimed at establishing universal open access for scholarly journal literature. In March 2017, UC Berkeley signed the OA2020 Expression of Interest, agreeing to make a good faith effort to devise and implement practical strategies and actions for attaining wide scale open access. For more on what we signed and why, please see our site OA2020.us. In particular, you may find the FAQ quite useful. 

Open course content

We provide support and solutions for UC Berkeley authors to create, publish, host, and find open or affordable course content for use in the classroom and beyond.

The high and ever-increasing cost of textbooks is a significant concern for Berkeley students. Textbook prices have risen 88% in the past decade, according to a 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, and many textbooks cost upwards of $200. Print course-pack costs further compound student financial burdens.

Open and affordable course materials

Campus efforts

In 2017, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education established a new task force to identify strategies to educate the campus about the cost of course content, and encourage practices that lower costs for students.

“While the campus has long been investigating the issue of course content affordability and has made progress, much work still needs to be done,” explained Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Cathy Koshland. “We must further reduce course content costs and utilize accessible digital library resources to provide an equitable and engaging learning environment for our students.”

Submitting their report during Spring 2018, the task force:

  • Reviewed data related to textbook and reader usage and pricing to better understand the complex issues surrounding affordability.
  • Identified strategies to educate faculty about the cost of textbooks and readers to encourage practices that lower these costs for students.
  • Outlined how best to utilize online resources.
  • Identified strategies to educate faculty about accessibility issues related to textbooks and digital course materials.

The Library’s Office of Scholarly Communication Services participated in this campus-wide task force and report. We also simultaneously advanced similar efforts described below.

Library pilot programs

In cooperation with the Center for Teaching & LearningAssociated Students of the University of California, and Educational Technology Services, the Library launched a pilot for 2017-18 to explore how we might reduce student costs for assigned course materials. The pilot tested, at limited scale, three Library-led services intended to help reduce the costs of assigned course content for Berkeley students, while also allowing the Library to gauge feasibility and efficiency were those services expanded.

  1. Course Packs: The Library enabled instructors to create free and electronic course readers in lieu of instructors requiring students to purchase print copies from third-party vendors.
  2. E-book Swaps: The Library acquired unlimited user licenses for books that the instructors would otherwise have required students to purchase in print.
  3. Open educational resources (OERs): The Library and Center for Teaching and Learning supported instructors in shifting from traditional textbooks to OERs (online and free to read and reuse).

The Library received financial support for our participation in the pilot programs from The Arcadia Fund.

Over the course of the three pilot semesters (Fall 2017, Spring 2018, and Fall 2018), the Library supported over 40 courses, representing approximately 2400 students. We have estimated potential student savings of over $200,000 for the pilot period alone! You can view our pilot fact sheet here:

Affordable Course Content Pilot Fact Sheet

Currently, the Library is working with its campus partners to evaluate ways to continue and expand the pilot services. We will update this space!

Open Education Network

The UC Berkeley Library has also strengthened its commitment to making course materials more affordable for students by joining the Open Education Network, which supports access to freely available and openly licensed textbooks and course content. The Open Education Network maintains the Open Textbook Library, a premiere resource for peer-reviewed academic textbooks. All Open Textbook Library textbooks are free and openly licensed for use, adaption, or modification.

The Open Education Network also provides workshops on open textbook development and pedagogy, and a growing community of open textbook authors and instructors creating and sharing Open Educational Resources (OERs). Berkeley will continue to work with the Open Education Network to advance the use of open practices on campus by offering resources and workshops to explain and expand adoption of open textbooks. 

What’s special about open textbooks?

Wondering why there’s a particular emphasis on open textbooks or OERs? 

OERs include resources, tools, and practices that are free of legal, financial, and technical barriers and can be fully used, shared, and adapted in the digital environment. This means that, not only they are free of cost to students, but also they are licensed in a way that allows instructors to continually build upon, improve, and develop outstanding educational materials.

Generally, right or permission is granted by use of an open license (for example, Creative Commons licenses) which allows anyone to Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, and Redistribute these educational materials.

Create an open book

PressbooksEDU

In Spring 2018, UC Berkeley Library began piloting PressbooksEDU to offer easy-to-use digital-publishing software for anyone with an active @berkeley.edu email address via the UC Berkeley Open Book Publishing Platform. Pressbooks features professionally-designed templates, flexible, and customizable licensing, and tools to maximize accessibility.

Other platforms

In addition to piloting Pressbooks, we are working to develop a platform-agnostic space to host and feature UC Berkeley-created open books made with any number of different digital publishing tools, such as GitBooksShare LaTeXOverleaf, and Scalar. We are committed to supporting and providing a full suite of publishing options to meet as many disciplinary and technical needs as possible.

Get a grant

We are still offering a limited number of grants to UC Berkeley instructors for the adoption, adaption, and creation of open textbooks. Contact us to discuss whether this program might be right for your project.