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Open Access Author's Fund celebrates one year of success

By Shannon Gordon
Special to the Gazette

In the fall of 2011 Memorial's libraries launched the Open Access (OA) Author's Fund, a timely and innovative initiative. Since then, this fund has meant that Memorial researchers across a range of disciplines have been able to publish in a variety of journals, such as Advances in Mechanical Engineering, BMC Family Practice, BMC Pharmacology, Discrete Dynamics in Nature and Society, Hereditary Cancer in Clinical Practice, Journal of Medical Case Reports and PLoS ONE. In practice, this fund plays a vital role in providing financial support to Memorial's researchers publishing in OA journals that have author processing fees, which are the norm with OA publishers' Public Library of Science (PLoS), BioMed Central (BMC) and Hindawi.

To mark the initiative's one-year anniversary, several Memorial-based researchers who have had their own research supported by this fund shared their views on what it has meant for their research, including Dr. Kris Aubrey, assistant professor, Discipline of Family Medicine; Dr. Louise N. Dawe, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry; Dr. Alice Gaudine, professor, School of Nursing; and Dr. Laura Gillespie, professor, Terry Fox Cancer Research Labs, Faculty of Medicine. Special thanks to these individuals for sharing their insight, and experience, on this topic.

Given research and dissemination practices, OA is especially relevant in the sciences.

"Communicating science as widely as possible is key to progress," said Dr. Dawe. "Open access facilitates discussion and collaboration, and makes peer-reviewed studies available to everyone."

Unrestricted access to research funded by taxpayer money remains a major contributing factor to the OA movement.

Dr. Aubrey described one advantage of openly disseminating peer-reviewed literature in particular: "The principle of making science that is paid for by the public freely available for general consumption and therefore more likely to influence health outcomes."

Barrier-free access is critical to communicating research findings across all disciplines.

"I believe that it is important that any researcher in my field or interested in my work have free access to my published data," said Dr. Gillespie. "Without OA, many researchers cannot view my work unless their institution subscribes to the journal in question."

On the funding side, Dr. Gaudine notes that the fund "helps when a research grant has been spent, or when a study or theoretical article is unfunded." This benefit is huge, especially when author processing fees can range from $1,500-$3,000 per article.

Very relevant is that funds like this help keep options open. Dr. Gillespie believes that "this fund enhances my ability to choose to publish my research in the best possible forum/journal for dissemination of my research results/data." She also observes that before the fund existed, "I was unable to consider sending my manuscripts to some of the journals now covered by the fund because of the high fee charged by these journals. In fact, just prior to receiving the email about the author's fund, I was interested in sending my manuscript to PLoS ONE but rejected the idea because I could not afford their fee. This fund made publishing my work in PLoS ONE possible."

Using the Open Access Author's Fund
Determining whether your article can benefit from the Open Access Author's Fund is intentionally simple, with the process described as "efficient", "fast and simple", "completely straightforward" and "extremely easy" by the four aforementioned researchers. Here is how it works:

Scenario 1: If you have an article accepted by an OA journal published by Public Library of Science (PLoS), BioMed Central (BMC) or Hindawi, the publisher will automatically invoice the Memorial University Libraries for the author's fee. This means the payment process becomes completely transparent to the author as the library handles the payment.

Scenario 2: If you are publishing in an OA journal published by another OA publisher (meaning not PLoS, BMC or Hindawi), and your article has been accepted for publication, you can apply for funding at www.library.mun.ca/forms/oa_fund_request.php. In this scenario, the library will respond within five business days.

Available to Memorial researchers, all faculty, instructors, staff and graduate students are able to apply to this fund. More details are available at guides.library.mun.ca/content.php?pid=203456&sid=1699542 and individual questions can be directed to ekalcock@mun.ca.

In addition to celebrating the one-year anniversary of the OA Author's Fund, the Senate of Memorial University approved the Memorial University Statement on Open Access in April 2012, to "encourage all members of the university community to disseminate their work in open access publications."

It is truly an exciting time at Memorial University on
the OA front. The full statement is at research.library.mun.ca/248/1/MUN_Statement_on_Open_Access.pdf.

Shannon Gordon is a librarian at the Health Sciences Library, Memorial University.

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