FAQ: Open Access for Graduate Students
+ What is open access?
+ What's the difference between OA and OA journals?
Open access, however, includes much more than OA journals. Approximately 80% of the nearly 2000 publishers in the SHERPA/RoMEO policies database have some sort of provision for open access archiving. With some notable exceptions, scholarly publishers have expressed support for open access and are actively participating in it.
+ What's the relationship between OA and peer review?
+ What's been going on at BU?
In 2008-09, the University approved an open access plan. We declared that open access is good for us and for society, and that we would participate in it. We set up an institutional repository. We began formal efforts to make BU scholarship as widely available as possible.
In 2009, School of Theology began requiring that graduate theses and dissertations be submitted on paper and electronically. They were then archived in OpenBU, openly by default, but with optional embargoes.
In 2013, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences began requiring electronic-only submission of theses and dissertations. MED and STH have followed. As of January 1, 2015, all BU theses and dissertations will be submitted electronically and, again, archived in OpenBU—openly by default, but with optional embargoes in certain circumstances. For more information on this, please refer to the Guide for Writers of Theses and Dissertations, and to your School or College.
In spring of 2014, the Faculty Council voted on a new, opt-out policy for scholarly articles produced by BU faculty. On 11 February 2015 the University Council adopted and ratified the new, opt-out open access policy, which states that the final author drafts of all peer reviewed scholarly articles will be deposited to OpenBU, and that by default they’ll be openly accessible. Authors may opt out, on a per-article basis.
The opt-out policy and BU’s decision to go all-electronic and open-access with theses and dissertations attest to BU’s commitment to disseminating the fruits of its research as widely as possible, in order to maximize benefit to society.For further information please read the Open Access Policy FAQ.
+ What does OA mean for me as a scholar? As a non-scholar?
Open access for new knowledge you produce means a more significant contribution to your field: the more people can find your work, the greater its potential benefit to others. The more people can find your name attached to work that you’ve done, the better you look to employers.
Open access to others’ work is also critical while you’re doing your research. BU may or may not have subscriptions to journals you need; you may or may not find what you need through interlibrary loan (and if you do, it will take a while to get to you). Research is aided enormously by easy, often keyword-based access to knowledge.
This holds no matter what you do in life. Whether you farm, help an ill relative, or are in a position to decide whether nations should go to war, access to knowledge is critical to the fullness of our collective life.
+ I've heard OA materials lack quality. Is this true?
+ I've heard OA means I have to pay publication fees. Is this true?
The SHERPA/RoMEO service based at the University of Nottingham has information on many publishers’ open access policies, and you can consult our How to Make Your Work Open guide. You are also welcome and warmly invited to contact us to talk about ways of making your research openly accessible, and/or your options as regards a specific journal.
+ What are electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs)?
+ Why is BU going electronic-only with thesis/dissertation submission?
So BU has decided to have them submitted electronically, and deposited into our institutional repository OpenBU. In addition, the Libraries are digitizing BU theses and dissertations from the beginning of the university until 2014 inclusive. Our ultimate goal is to have all of BU’s graduate theses and dissertations be available online, for free, as allowed within the current legal framework. If you cannot locate your thesis or dissertation in OpenBU, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, since it may not have been digitized yet.
+ What does this mean for me?
+ Should I make my dissertation immediately available open access?
Making your dissertation open access has a number of benefits, including:
- Expanding the impact of your work, through increased online attention, visibility, and citations
- Democratizing worldwide access to knowledge
- Discovering intersections with others’ research and possible collaborations
Some students are concerned that if their works are made open access, they will become victims of plagiarism and theft of intellectual property. This is a real concern, given the ease at which works that are freely available online can be copied and re-used. However, openness makes it much easier to detect plagiarism, since your work is posted with a timestamp, and can help prevent the theft of intellectual property because it allows you to establish the priority of your ideas and work in your field.
If you would like further assistance in making your decision, consult your advisor, or contact Digital Scholarship Services at email@example.com.
+ Will making my dissertation open access harm my chances of publishing my revised dissertation as a monograph?
If you have questions about your particular dissertation, contact Digital Scholarship Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
+ But what if I don't want my thesis/dissertation work to be openly accessible?
+ Where can I find more information regarding ETDs at BU?
In spring of 2014, the CUNY Graduate Center Library held a symposium titled “Share It Now or Save It for Later: Making Choices about Dissertations and Publishing.” Audio excerpts from the speakers’ remarks may prove useful to you as you consider whether to request embargo for your work.
+ Where can I find more information regarding open access?
+ What are some examples of reputable OA journals?
+ What are predatory OA journals? How do I spot and avoid them?
Predatory open access journals charge authors large publication fees, but do not provide the value added services we normally associate with journals (such as intellectually solid peer review, editing, and/or production values). Since we work in reputation-based fields, such journals and their publishers quickly gain reputations as entities to avoid. Spotting them can be challenging, but here are some things to ask yourself if you are considering publishing with a journal:
- Are they a known entity in your field?
- What else have they published? How is the quality, in your judgment?
- Do you know anyone associated with their editorial board, that you can check in with?
- Do you know anyone who has published with them?
- Does a web search for the journal name and the word predatory yield anything of interest from credible sources?
If you have questions or concerns about a particular journal, please contact us (email@example.com or 617.358.8564) and we’ll be happy to research it for you. Also see our guide on How to Choose Where to Publish.