The volume of online content continues to grow exponentially, and much of it is freely available. Some of this content is of potentially significant value for teaching, learning and research purposes. However, ‘free to access’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘easy to find’. Taylor & Francis have conducted a research programme to help explore the issues relating to free online content discoverability from the perspective of librarians.
Our research included several focus groups, teledepth interviews and an online survey ; which together have helped build a picture of the challenges associated with surfacing free online content within an institution for educational and research purposes
Access to Digital Libraries for Disadvantaged Users :
« Digital libraries, designed to serve people and their information needs in the same way as traditional libraries, present distinct advantages over brick and mortar facilities: elimination of physical boundaries, round-the-clock access to information, multiple access points, networking abilities, and extended search functions. As a result, they should be especially well-suited for the disadvantaged. However, minorities, those affected by lower income and education status, persons living in rural areas, the physically disabled, and developing countries as a whole consistently suffer from a lack of accessibility to digital libraries. This paper evaluates the effectiveness and relevance of digital libraries currently in place and discusses what could and should be done to improve accessibility to digital libraries for the disadvantaged. »
« Key Findings :
••The role of internet search engines in facilitating discovery of scholarly resources has continued to increase. The perceived decline in the role of the library catalog noted in previous cycles of this survey has been arrested and even modestly reversed, driven perhaps to some degree by significant strategic shifts in library discovery tools and services.
•• Respondents are generally satisfied with their ability to access the scholarly literature, not least because freely available materials have come to play a significant role in meeting their needs.
•• While respondents continued to trend overall towards greater acceptance of a print to electronic transition for scholarly journals, they grew modestly less comfortable with replacing print subscriptions with electronic access. Monographs, although widely used in electronic form, present a mixed picture for any possible format transition. While some monograph use cases are quite strong for electronic versions, others – especially long-form reading – are seen to favor print by a decisive share. Even so, a growing share of respondents expects substantial change in library collecting practices for monographs in the next five years.
•• Respondents’ personal interests are the primary factor in selecting research topics, but junior faculty members report that tenure considerations play an important role, as well. Collaboration models vary significantly across scholarly fields. While humanists are less likely than scientists or social scientists
to conduct quantitative analyses, nevertheless some 25% of humanists report gathering their own data for this purpose.
•• Small but non-trivial shares of respondents use technology in their undergraduate teaching. But while most recognize the availability of resources to help them do so, many respondents do not draw upon resources beyond their own ideas or feel strongly motivated to seek out opportunities to use more technology in their teaching.
•• Respondents tend to value established scholarly dissemination methods, prioritizing audiences in their sub-discipline and discipline, and those of lay professionals, more so than undergraduates or the general public. Similarly, they continue to select journals in which to publish based on characteristics such as topical coverage, readership, and impact factor. Finally, respondents tend to value existing publisher services, such as peer review, branding, copy-editing, while expressing less widespread agreement about the value of newer dissemination support services offered by libraries that are intended to maximize access and impact.
•• Respondents perceive less value from many functions of the academic library than they did in the last cycle of this survey. One notable exception is the gateway function, which experienced a modest resurgence in perceived value. A minority of respondents sees the library as primarily responsible for teaching research skills to undergraduates. And, though still a clear minority, the share of respondents who wish to see substantial change to library staff and buildings has increased. There are large differences in perceptions between disciplinary groups: for example, a smaller share of scientists views many
library roles as very important.
•• Conferences remain at the heart of respondents’ perceptions of the role and value of the scholarly societies in which they participate. Conferences are valued for both the formal function of discovering new scholarship and informal role of connecting scholars with peers. »
Open Textbooks and Increased Student Access and Outcomes :
« This study reports findings from a year-long pilot study during which 991 students in 9 core courses in the Virginia State University School of Business replaced traditional textbooks with openly licensed books and other digital content. The university made a deliberate decision to use open textbooks that were copyrighted under the Creative Commons license. This decision was based on the accessibility and flexibility in the delivery of course content provided by open textbooks. More students accessed digital open textbooks than had previously purchased hard copies of textbooks. Higher grades were correlated with courses that used open textbooks. »
Open Access and A2K: Collaborative Experiences in Latin America :
« Today, information is at the heart of all economies. Modern societies must keep pace with the growth of knowledge. This has become crucial for sustainable development. But, it is also important to note that restrictions exist with regard to accessing knowledge, with large numbers of people in the world who are being left behind in terms of having access to knowledge. It is critical to overcome these barriers in any possible way. While the Internet and digital technologies facilitate access to knowledge, at the same time there are certain barriers that prevent access. An alternative way to restore the lost equilibrium is the development of resources that favor open access to knowledge. In this chapter the access to knowledge (A2K) movement is based on definitions coined by theorists Benkler (2006), Balkin (2010) and Shaver (2007), who advance the concept of human development and equal access to knowledge as distributive justice. This chapter focuses on the role of Latin American countries in the WIPO development agenda and the role of library associations against excessive intellectual property regulations which impose barriers to access and ultimately the creation of new knowledge. The concepts of A2K to Open Access (OA), showing how OA can restore knowledge as a public good on a global scale, are also discussed in this chapter.The chapter also provides an account of the growth of global OA, portrays the Latin American situation and takes into account OA indicators from Argentina, Chile and Brazil. It also reports on international and regional projects, describing several collaborative projects developed in the region. The results of a survey to members of the LLAAR1 discussion list are presented. Finally, the chapter arrives at conclusions that integrate the concepts of A2K, OA, collaborative work, and development and growth of Open Access in the region. »
The serials crisis in scientific publishing can be traced to the long duration of copyright protection and the assignment of copyright by researchers to publishers. Over-protection of scientific literature has enabled commercial publishers to increase subscription rates to a point at which access to scientific information has been curtailed with negative social welfare consequences. The uniformity costs imposed by such over-protection can be addressed by tailoring intellectual property rights, either through legal change or private ordering.
Current open access channels of distribution offer alternative approaches to scientific publishing, but neither the Green OA self-archiving nor the Gold OA author-pays models has yet achieved widespread acceptance. Moreover, recent proposals to abolish copyright protection for academic works, while theoretically attractive, may be difficult to implement in view of current legislative and judicial dispositions.
Likewise, funder open access mandates such as the NIH OA Policy, which are already responsible for the public release of millions of scientific articles, are susceptible to various risks and political uncertainty.
In this article, I propose an alternative private ordering solution based on latency values observed in open access stakeholder negotiation settings. Under this proposal, research institutions would collectively develop and adopt publication agreements that do not transfer copyright ownership to publishers, but instead grant publishers a one-year exclusive period in which to publish a work.
This limited period of exclusivity should enable the publisher to recoup its costs and a reasonable profit through subscription revenues, while restoring control of the article copyright to the author at the end of the exclusivity period. This balanced approach addresses the needs of both publishers and the scientific community, and would, I believe, avoid many of the challenges faced by existing open access models.
Access to Knowledge in India: New Research on Intellectual Property, Innovation & Development :
« This is the third volume in our Access to Knowledge series. India is a $1 trillion economy which nevertheless struggles with a very high poverty rate and very low access to knowledge for almost seventy percent of its population which lives in rural areas.
This volume features four parts on current issues facing intellectual property, development policy (especially rural development policy) and associated innovation, from the Indian perspective. Each chapter is authored by scholars taking an interdisciplinary approach and affiliated to Indian or American universities and Indian think-tanks. Each examines a policy area that significantly impacts access to knowledge. These include information and communications technology for development; the Indian digital divide; networking rural areas; copyright and comparative business models in music; free and open source software; patent reform and access to medicines; the role of the Indian government in promoting access to knowledge internationally and domestically. »