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Open Access & Author Rights


Open Access 101 | Open Access Facts | Author Rights | Open Access at UofT | More information


Open Access (OA) is the free and immediate availability of scholarly works on the public internet, whereby the authors do not expect payment. Any user is permitted to download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles and use them for any lawful reason.

There are two main types of access: GREEN OA refers to work made available through institutional repositories (e.g., T-Space). These works are self-archived by the author and can include articles published in academic journals, allowing free and legal access to their content. GOLD OA refers to works published in OA journals. As with publishing in commercial academic journals, articles must undergo peer review.

Open Access 101

Why Open Access?

Funders invest in research to improve the public good. This research accelerates the pace of scientific discovery, encourages innovation, enriches education, and stimulates the economy. Broad access to research results is essential to research itself. This research can only truly advance through the sharing of results. 

The Internet provides the opportunity for a wide audience/community of users to access information so they can use it innovatively. OA is the new framework by which research results can be more easily accessed and used.

How can you benefit from Open Access?

The intentions behind copyright are to safeguard original material and allow the creators to profit off it. In the music industry and mainstream publishing world, this “profit” is monetary. However, scholarly communications differ in this regard because authors are not paid to publish in the first place. Rather academics' incentives/interests to publish are to advance knowledge in their field and build a reputation for themselves in the academic community. Both these goals have made
publishing an important marker of credibility in the tenure process. Both are better
achieved when content is more accessible.

As student researchers, you can easily find relevant literature through OA journals (at no cost). Any work you produce will in turn be more impactful by means of visibility and a larger readership. Furthermore, OA creates new places to find valuable information online, enhances inter-disciplinary research and accelerates the pace of research, discovery and innovation. OA enriches the quality of your education, and provides you with access to information without the barrier of what your school can afford.

In the public realm, OA contributes to a worldwide dissemination of knowledge. More specifically, it results in a better-educated future workforce. Furthermore, once you graduate, or if you decide to leave the academic world, OA will still allow you to pursue your interests and continue learning.

• 20% of articles published in academic journals are made available through Green OA.
• Six publishers control 60% of the scholarly journals publishing market.
• From 1978 to 2001, libraries at UCLA saw subscription costs increase by 1300%, while library budgets only grew at 4.3% per annum between 1991 and 2002.
• As of November 2012, the Copyright Modernization Act was passed in Canada, giving sole rights and authority over published work to the copyright holder.

Author Rights

Traditionally, once your work is accepted for publication, all rights, including copyright, go to the journal. This traditional method of publishing will inhibit your ability to use parts of your work in future projects, distribute copies to your peers, and place it on your own webpage.

However, current OA initiatives, like the SPARC Author Addendum, allow you to modify the publisher’s agreement and keep key rights to your work. This is a free resource.

As the author, you are the copyright holder of your work until you transfer the copyright in a signed agreement. If you do sign over your copyright, you will need to ask permission of the copyright holder to reproduce, distribute, modify, or put the work on public display. If you retain your copyright, you will be the sole decision maker concerning the use of your work. You have the ability to modify any agreement you sign. The law allows you to transfer your copyright while retaining rights for yourself.

Open Access at U of T

Many people in the University of Toronto community are taking part in the OA movement.
The decision to require students to submit theses and dissertations electronically on T-Space is a milestone in the university’s involvement in OA. Open UToronto is another significant initiative that acts as a hub connecting various projects, people, groups and organizations to “open” resources.

U of T Open Access Journals

As scholars, you have the opportunity to publish in a number of OA Journals, each dealing with a different academic discipline. Through the Journal Production Services website, you can browse a list of said journals and find one that suits your interests.
Some of the more prominent journals associated with University of Toronto include: Media Tropes: a communications and media studies journal; Women’s Health and Urban Life: an international and interdisciplinary journal produced by the Sociology Department; and Toronto Slavic Quarterly: the first academic electronic journal in Slavic studies. See University of Toronto Libraries: Collection Development website for more OA journals.

Faculty Involvement

Many faculty members are on editorial boards of OA journals.
Leslie Chan, a senior lecturer in the department of Social Studies at University of Toronto Scarborough is one of two developers of Open OASIS, a sourcebook aimed at various stakeholders for implementing OA initiatives. Professor Chan is a long-time proponent of OA and helped launch the movement in 2001 as part of the Budapest Open Access Initiative. He also served as director of Bioline International, a not-for-profit scholarly publishing cooperative.

e-Thesis Submission Workshop

A workshop is offered to graduate students on submitting theses electronically to T-Space.


More Information/Sources:

Author Rights. University of Toronto's LibGuide on Scholarly Communication.
Bill C-11: Copyright Modernization Act
. (2012). 2011-2012, 41st parliament, 1st session. Retrieved from the Parliament of Canada website: http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/hoc/Bills/411/Government/C-11/C-11_4/C-11_4.PDF
Edlin, A.S. & Rubinfeld, D.L. (2004). “Exclusion or efficient pricing? The ‘big deal’ bundling of academic journals.” University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved from http://escholarship.org/uc/item/9hc6n6ds.
McCabe, M.J., Nevo, A., & Rubinfeld, D.L. (2006). The pricing of academic journals. University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved from http://escholarship.org/uc/item/13d1h835.
Suber, P. (2012). Open access. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Suber, P. (2012, Oct. 7). Open Access Overview. Retrieved from http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm
Scholarship Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). (n.d.). Open Access. Retrieved from http://www.arl.org/sparc/openaccess
University of Toronto Libraries. (n.d.). University of Toronto Libraries’ Open Access Author Fund. Retrieved from: http://onesearch.library.utoronto.ca/open-access-author-fund-policies
Contact the OISE library (askeloise@utoronto.ca) if you have any further questions.