Monday 20 October 2014

It’s Open Access Week! An overview of OA publishing in archaeology: an interview with Professor Alan Outram

Open Access Week, a global event now entering its eighth year, is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access.

“Open Access” to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research- has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted but  what are the direct and widespread implications for OA publishing in archaeology?

We asked Professor Alan Outram (University of Exeter, UK) the co-editor of new OA journal Science and Technology of Archaeological Research, how to publish OA and the different considerations there might be for the archaeology community.

Professor Alan Outram
 Are there particular reasons why archaeology benefits from OA publishing?Archaeology has a large base of amateur/avocational support, in terms of volunteering, donors and general interest. OA publishing allows these valuable groups greater access to archaeological works, which can only increase interest and support. Archaeologists also work all around the world, often in places where local universities might struggle to fund appropriate digital access to subscription journals.

Why publish Gold OA? 
Open Access publishing is widely accepted to increase both readership and citation levels. It also allows access to a wider set of readers, including those not affiliated to institutions, or those whose institutions cannot afford expensive subscriptions. Increasingly, many funding bodies also require outputs that result from their support to be made freely available through OA. But why choose to pay for ‘Gold’ OA? The ‘gold’ route has some significant benefits, including the immediate open access availability, instead of waiting until the embargo periods of subscription journals to pass. The ‘as published’, properly typeset versions of papers are also made freely available, whereas many subscription journals retain copyright on those and only allow the author’s typescript versions to be made available. ‘Gold’ OA also has the significant benefit of using the publisher’s digital platform for the journal, which increases visibility, and ease of location and use.

What sort of archaeology is most likely to have funding for OA publishing?
Archaeological research funded by research councils is most likely to already have funding for OA. Projects where public impact is a key concern are also more likely to have built in the cost of open access publishing. These factors will depend very much on the policies of the country in which you work.

How much does it cost in general?
Costs to publish a Gold OA article vary widely, but are generally between $1000 to $3000 in the sciences and rather lower in the humanities and social sciences, $99 to $1500.

How does one find funding for that cost?
This will vary considerably, depending upon the country in which you are based. In some countries, for instance the UK, Universities have been given a stream of funding to help cover OA costs for existing research grants. It is also increasingly possible to build OA publishing costs into grant applications, as a valid line item. In some cases, Universities and other research organizations will have put aside some of their own funds to support OA, as they wish to invest in the benefits of increased citation and better public impact. Certainly, some individual researchers even invest in OA themselves, because of the increased exposure it gives to their work.

Who can advise me on how to obtain funding and how to pay?
Your librarian would be a good place to start for advice on local policies and funding.

As one of the Editors of a brand new OA journal in the science and technology of archaeological research, what do you anticipate the challenges will be?
The world of journal publishing is in a transitionary phase, with different models of publishing now competing. Hence, there is the challenge of convincing people that your journal’s model is the right one for their paper. Science and Technology of Archaeological Research offers rapid OA publishing within a rigorous framework of international peer-review, so I think it is a very attractive option. My job is to set the right tone from the outset. Publication with us needs to be fast and efficient, but high standards need to be maintained. Open access must not be confused with vanity publishing! 

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