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How to Get Started: Professors and Researchers

As authors and role models for their students, professors are in a unique position make a difference in opening access to the results of research.   There is no more effective way of promoting Open Access to research than by setting an example.  By adopting open-access practices yourself and encouraging your students to do so, you can contribute significantly to ensuring that those who need timely access to research can get what they need rather than just what they or their institution can afford.

STEP ONE: Get Up to Date, Get Connected

If you’re unfamiliar with Open Access, you can use the  Learn section of our Web site to get up to speed, or check out the resources from SPARC, our partner organization, written specifically for faculty and authors.  Once you’re familiar with the issue, please  subscribe to our blog or Twitter feed, or friend us on Facebook, where you’ll be kept up-to-date on the latest news and receive our Action Alerts when there are opportunities to act. 

STEP TWO: Adopt Open Access Yourself 

Whenever you are about to publish your own work, make it openly accessible by publishing in an open-access journal or by posting your article in your institution’s repository.  Doing so will not only help others by allowing them to read and build upon your findings, but it will also help you: Dozens of studies have shown a significant increase in citations (up to 600%) when an article is made openly available rather than locked behind a pay wall1.

  • Submit your research to open-access journals

  • Deposit your preprints and postprints in an open-access archive

  • Retain your copyrights when you sign publishing agreements

  • Consider launching an OA journal in your area of specialization

  • Serve as editor of an OA journal

  • Educate your professional organizations about Open Access

  • For more ideas, please visit http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/do.htm

For an in-depth guide on how to make your work open, visit SPARC’s Author Resources Page.

STEP THREE: Educate on Campus

Educating students on your campus, and encouraging your colleagues and librarians to do the same, will help ensure that the next generation of students and professional scholars doesn’t fall victim to the current closed system of academic publishing that is so harmful to the open, timely, and efficient spread of information.  Options to engage your campus community range from quick and easy to the more elaborate and higher profile:

  • Bring up Open Access in the classroom and educate your students on why ensuring access to academic research benefits them and others too.

  • Encourage your advisees and students to submit their work to open-access publications.

  • Introduce your administrators and colleagues to Open Access.

  • Sponsor or speak at an event on your campus during Open Access Week.  Open Access Week was started by students and is a great opportunity to organize a panel discussion with them.

  • Encourage your librarians to include Open Access in any mandatory library orientation for incoming graduate students.  Mentioning Open Access during orientation is a great way to expose the incoming class to this idea and make them aware of the different resources they can use to make their work openly accessible.

Visit our Resources page for printable brochures and posters

STEP FOUR: Advocate Nationally

As an educator and a researcher, you have a powerful voice when it comes to advocating for national policies to open access to research. In our Action Center, we have customizable templates for current legislation, so writing your representatives is as easy as it is effective.  By advocating at the national level for public access policies, you can have a hand in producing the seismic shifts that will open up billions of dollars in research.  But don’t just stop at yourself!  Talk to your colleagues, students, and administrators and urge them to write their representatives as well.

STEP FIVE: Advocate on Campus

While policies at the national level can open a large portion of published research, campus open-access policies are crucial to filling in the gaps and expanding access to the scholarly record.  These policies express the faculty's commitment to deposit their final, peer-reviewed manuscript of any published articles into an institutional repository where they can be indexed by services like Google Scholar and linked to databases such as PubMedCentral.  Over 100 campus policies have been passed to date, and the majority have passed unanimously or nearly unanimously.  

For more information on campus open-access policies, visit SPARC's campus open access policy homepage.

STEP SIX: Get Your Faculty Assembly, Colleagues, and Administrators on Board

As the saying goes, there’s strength in numbers.  Whether you mention the high cost of access at your institution, the steep barriers faced by other faculty, or the heavy toll lack of access to research has on students, researchers, patients, and doctors in the developing world, you'll likely find others share your interest in opening up access to academic research. 

Let your faculty governing body know that access is an issue and urge them to explore chances to take action.  Faculty and faculty organizations are the driving force behind campus open-access policies that make the results of research on your campus openly available to all.

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