Saturday, February 25, 2012

Open access publishing

I'm on the editorial adviosry board of the TESOL Journal, a newish journal that is freely available to anyone with a TESOL membership and which otherwise sells articles at the price of $US 35 for 24 hours of online access (+ $4.55 tax). The EAB will be meeting in March at the TESOL convention. Unfortunately, though, I will not be able to attend. Nevertheless, I have put forward a number of proposals for the board to consider:

Proposal 1:
Open access (OA) publishing is a growing trend with more an more schools adopting policies to provide open access to faculty-produced research. In 2009, for example, MIT adopted an open access policy under which faculty grant the school "nonexclusive permission to make available his or her scholarly articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles for the purpose of open dissemination" (source). Harvard has a similar policy, as do many other schools.

Currently, my understanding is that TJ is published by Wiley-Blackwell and that copyright of the contents is held by TESOL. According to MIT's website, Wiley-Blackwell's licensing agreement with its authors is incompatible with MIT's OA policy and, I would assume, those of other schools. To publish in TJ, then, authors would be required to opt out of their respective schools' OA policies. 

The reality is that more and more authors are refusing to do so. You are no doubt aware of the growing boycott of Elsevier over OA among other issues. And an individual example close to our own field is that of Kai von Fintel, editor of the journal Semantics and Pragmatics.

Given this situation I propose that the TJ board pass a resolution supporting the rights of authors to freely post at least their final manuscript (postprint, after peer review, before typesetting) in open access repositories without any embargo (such as having to wait for 24 months before making the OA version available). 

Proposal 2:
When an author writes a book, typically they retain copyright. When an author publishes a journal article, typically they give up copyright. 

Given that, I propose that rather than requiring authors to vest copyright with TESOL, we allow them to retain copyright. 

Proposal 3:
Copyright is based on the premise that reproduction and distribution should be disallowed as the default option. Other licensing options exist, though, and allow for more flexible distribution options.
Given that, I propose that TJ be published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Proposal 4:
Science should be reproducible, and often the only way to make it so is to make the study's raw data available. With online publishing, technical barriers to sharing raw data have mostly been removed. 

Given this situation, I propose that TJ strongly encourage authors to make their raw data available through TJ for other researchers to use; that, if they choose not to do so, they provide a written explanation; and that this information be considered in deciding whether to accept or reject a paper.