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Open Access

What is Open Access?

Open Access is free, unrestricted, online access to scholarly information. Open access also encompasses the right to fully use these articles in a digital environment, such as the ability to download, print, or link to a work, or crawl them for indexing so you can discover them in catalogs and search engines. The goal of open access is to provide everyone, everywhere with equal access to information.

Removing access barriers to [scholarly] literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.

At UMD Libraries, we believe that opening scholarship to the world is a moral imperative that has tangible benefits in the advancement of human knowledge. Open access publishing also provides measurable advantages for scholars including increased readership and citation for their work. 

Open Scholarship Services is here to provide education, services, and infrastructure that support open access initiatives and activities on our campus and around the globe. 

Benefits of Open Access

Open Access benefits the global research ecosystem and all of its participants.

We need to consider the potential impact and utility of our research to people all over the world, regardless of whether they have the means to pay for access to commercial publications, and databases. For the vast majority of the global population, subscriptions, fees, and other technological access barriers prevent vital research from reaching communities in need. We also lose out on the opportunity to collaborate with partners in regions like the global south and even from members of industry and less privileged researchers without the funds or institutional affiliations that might afford them access to information. Everyone deserves access to knowledge and we, as a society, are poorer for the lost opportunities to think as a global community. 

Open Access offers advantages to researchers

Open Access provides a theoretically unlimited audience for your work, which means that your research can be accessed by professionals working outside of academic systems and the general public. You never know who needs access to your research and thought or who might become a collaborator. Open Access has also been shown to increase citation rates and raise the impact of your work. 

Key Concerns

Open Access models and movements are not immune to inequality

OA models that rely on authors paying for publication costs push out less well-funded researchers. This often reinforces barriers to advancement that already exist for minority and non-western authors who are more vulnerable to economic disadvantage through the existence of systematic inequalities. UMD Libraries is committed to investigating and advancing ethical forms of open access and new initiatives that support and uplift underrepresented and minority communities to participate in open scholarship. 

Changes to scholarly communication landscape and ecosystem

Change is always difficult. New and shifting OA models can cause confusion to researchers and we know that there are many new options (Subscribe to open! Read and publish!) that are being promoted to scholars. There are valid concerns about the continuation of current publishing systems, such as society journals and other publications with subscriptions that financially support scholarly organizations. The Libraries are here to answer questions and help you to make decisions that best fit your professional goals and the mission of our university, while respecting your right to autonomy in how and where you publish.

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