On Oct. 28, Christine Fruin, associate university librarian from the University of Florida, gave a talk on copyright and open access publishing at the Faculty Senate.
Fruin said that there are many reasons why scholars publish their work, such as the desire to build a reputation, to engage with other scholars, to achieve professional advancement, to make an impact and to use it in the future.
One of the ways to go about publishing scholarly writing, according to Fruin, is through open access publishing. Open access publishing, she said, is a way for authors to publish their work in a way that allows the general public to see it for free online which makes it more easily accessible to all.
“It’s not giving away your work,” Fruin said.
She emphasized that open access publishing is a way of allowing wider access to work and keeping control.
She said that there are many benefits to open access publishing: the work reaches a wide audience, the author retains all copyrights, users still have to cite the work, and there are higher citation rates in open access works.
Fruin discussed different types of open access protocols. One such type is called gold open access. She says that this is when authors publish their work with an open access journal, book or publisher.
Another type of open access Fruin discussed is green open access, which means that the author self-archives.
“It’s the cool thing to do now,” Fruin said.
She also said that authors at UNC-Greensboro can do green open access publishing by using a website called NC Docs.
Many educational institutions, such as Harvard, MIT, Duke and Boston University, have open access policies.
There are three different kind of open access policies that universities utilize, according to Fruin.
One of these policies is “endorsement,” meaning that the university encourages faculty to use open access publishing. Fruin noted that her employer, Florida University, does this.
She described another policy, entitled “deposit” or Harvard-style policy. Using this policy, universities are granted permission to make faculty work available. If a publisher doesn’t want a writer to do this, all he or she has to do is sign a waiver.
Retention is another type of policy Fruin briefly discussed. Retention policy means that the author engages with publishers in order to keep the copyright. These agreements are subject to the university they belong to.
Fruin said that there have also been efforts made in the government to make research more easily accessible. She said that in 2013, the Obama Administration put forth a proposition that she called the “White House Directive on Public Access to Research.” This policy would ensure all federally funded research is easily accessible to the public.
Fruin noted that state-level governments are also trying to enact open access policies. For instance, California passed the California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act. This act ensures that government-funded research must be easily accessible to the people of California. She also says that New York and Illinois have similar acts pending but not yet enacted.
Another way for authors to publish their work is through big publishing companies. Copyright is one of the most important aspects of publishing and often big corporations ask that writers sign away their copyright to the company, according to Fruin. Fruin used an example of a contract from Wiley Blackwell in which Blackwell signed over the copyright to the publisher but received only a few of the rights back in return.
“It’s your intellectual property,” Fruin said. “Don’t just give it away.”
She said that when a writer signs over their copyrights, it makes it very difficult for them to use their work later on.
For instance, she said that if a scholar wants to write a book using her own work but she signed over the copyright, it would be illegal for her to use that work without permission from the copyright holder. Fruin said that she’s had to help people at her university in these kinds of situations and that there are a lot of hoops to jump through.
Fruin says that before signing any contracts, authors should negotiate with publishers.
She says that often authors don’t read their contracts before signing them, and it’s important for them to know what they’re getting into. She says that they should read their contracts and also edit them and make sure that they are not giving all of their rights away.