Information on Open Access at Emory is here.
What is Open Access?
Put simply, Open Access means free and consistent access to information online.
Open Access journals (like these) do not have subscriptions, but offer scholarly work to anybody with access to a computer. Open Access journals are peer-reviewed and edited exactly like any academic journal. They only differ in the way they distribute the work they publish.
Another possible route to Open Access: authors publish their work in traditional subscription-based journals, but after a period of time, make sure a digital copy is put online in a personal or institutional repository that anyone can search and read. A directory of open access repositories can be found here.
Why is Open Access important to everyone in academics?
For one, Open Access means more people can benefit from scholarship. Work published in Open Access journals and archives might be read by anyone who is interested, thus allow academic research to have a greater impact on the world.
But Open Access is also one solution to a serious problem for university libraries – a problem that affects all of us in academia, whether we are aware of it or not. That problem is the rising price of the work published in academic journals.
Traditionally, university libraries pay for peer-reviewed journal subscriptions so that students and faculty can get easy and free access to the scholarship they need. But in the past twenty years, as a more limited number of commercial publishers have taken over the publication of top-tier journals, the prices of subscriptions have skyrocketed, going up far faster than the rate of inflation. At the same time, the overall number of journals has mushroomed, as journals pop up to cover ever-more specialized subject matter.
The average cost of journals in many disciplines (especially in the areas of science, technology and medicine) is in the thousands, sometimes working out to hundreds of dollars per issue. Some journals cost upwards of $20,000 annually. Faced with high prices and sharp increases, libraries find themselves in a no-win situation. Researchers in every discipline and specialty need access to particular journals, and there is usually no option of finding a less-expensive competitor. Many libraries’ budgets for periodicals have been stretched thin, and eventually most will be forced to make substantial cuts in journal subscriptions or other library resources. Everyone agrees that the current model of academic publishing is not going to last.
You can read more about this crisis in scholarly communications here.