Emory celebrates Open Access Week, introduces new website to highlight authors’ work

By Maureen McGavin | Emory Report | Oct. 15, 2020

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International Open Access Week 2020 celebrates the importance of making research publications available for free. Virtual activities Oct. 19-26 include introducing a new website that highlights recent OA scholarship by Emory authors.

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Emory University is celebrating International Open Access Week 2020 virtually next week with a new website, Open Access at Emory, that will highlight recent scholarship by Emory authors. 

Open access (OA) is a publishing model for scholarly communication that makes research information available to readers at no cost. OA has expanded beyond journal articles to include scholarly books, research data, textbooks, videos, images, sound recordings — any tools that can be used to convey information or knowledge.

International Open Access Week (Oct. 19-26) is held annually to draw attention to the growing movement of researchers publishing scholarship in a way that makes it freely available to others. Openness is a powerful tool in creating knowledge equity on the sides of both the researcher and those accessing the scholarship, regardless of their institutional affiliation or ability to pay for it. 

“As we focus on social justice and equity in our society, open access is one path we can take to increase equitable access to knowledge globally,” says Jody Bailey, head of Emory’s Scholarly Communications Office. “OA books, journal articles and all other materials are not behind paywalls, making them freely available to anyone with internet access. We want to encourage researchers to consider open access when they publish their scholarship.”

Several units at Emory collaborate to recognize published authors and encourage more faculty to consider OA when publishing their scholarship: Emory Libraries’ Scholarly Communications Office, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS), the Digital Publishing in the Humanities initiative (supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and based at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry) and the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence (CFDE).

Scholarly Communications, ECDS, the Fox Center and CFDE normally hold a reception honoring authors published with the support of these Emory units during the previous academic year. Since an in-person event was not possible this year due to COVID-19 restrictions still in place, they launched a website highlighting Emory’s OA authors’ work. The newly launched website includes:

  • Videos of conversations with book authors whose projects were funded with assistance from the TOME@Emory fund, administered by the Digital Publishing in the Humanities initiative
  • Information on 42 OA journal articles published with the financial help of Emory’s Open Access Publishing Fund
  • Links to OA journals and projects from ECDS, such as Southern Spaces, Atlanta Studies and Post45, which is new to Emory

The Emory Libraries and ECDS Twitter feeds will share a different component of the virtual celebration website on each day of International Open Access Week 2020.

Crossing all disciplines

Hundreds of researchers have benefited from Emory’s support of the open access movement over the years. The OpenEmory repository of faculty scholarship, launched in fall 2012, has grown to more than 18,524 works (as of Oct. 15) and 4.4 million total downloads. Bailey says the number of deposits is expected to reach 20,000 early in 2021.

This year has brought new developments, such as more open access book publications through the TOME@Emory initiative. In 2017, Emory joined the TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem) pilot project, a collaboration of the Association of American Universities, the Association of Research Libraries and the Association of University Presses. Since that time, TOME@Emory has provided support for the open access publication of six books, with several more in the pipeline.

Sarah McKee, senior associate director for publishing at the Fox Center, administers the Digital Publishing in the Humanities initiative, which is directed by Michael Elliott, dean of the Emory College of Arts and Sciences. In that role, she helps faculty book authors at Emory secure TOME@Emory funding and works closely with the Scholarly Communications Office to help authors negotiate their open access publishing contracts.

“The TOME initiative allows us to work directly with university presses to open up Emory faculty’s scholarship and distribute it much more widely than would otherwise be possible,” McKee notes.

Cynthia Willett, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Philosophy at Emory, and co-author Julie Willett, associate professor of history at Texas Tech University, published the book “Uproarious: How Feminists and Other Subversive Comics Speak Truth” with the help of the TOME@Emory initiative in 2019.  

“Our reconceptualization of humor draws from feminist stand-ups and other post-9/11-era comics,” Cynthia Willett says. “Just as our claims are driven by popular culture, we think open access too helps us engage in global conversations. In an era with the fortunes of academics and educational institutions caught up in growing social inequality, we also hope that open access allows our research to be more accessible not only to students at elite institutions but also to those who lack resources yet often drive the conversations on trending fields like humor.

“We began this project hoping to reach out to a larger audience across academic disciplines and to general interest readers,” Willett adds. “The book addresses a topic of heightened relevance at a time when a Twitter joke can shift the political climate overnight. At a time when so much of our political culture is driven by comedy, and comedy both as an art form and a tool of politics is driven by the internet and social media, open access couldn’t seem more relevant.” 

ECDS has launched newly acquired open access journals this year, such as nonsite and Post45. Dan Sinykin, assistant professor of English at Emory, is the editor of Post45, an open-access digital journal of literary and cultural studies hosted by ECDS.

“Academic journals are prohibitively expensive. Even university libraries are increasingly struggling to afford them,” Sinykin says. “Meanwhile, more and more professors are adjuncts, who often lack library access. All this amounts to a crisis for the democratization of knowledge. Now more than ever, it matters to make the best thought on literature and culture freely available to anyone with internet access. ECDS, with its phenomenal staff and its commitment to and experience with open access journals, is a perfect home for Post45. The ECDS team is working to keep Post45 up to date and maximally accessible.”  

“Open access publishing, in addition to Open Educational Resources, are key components of digital scholarship,” says Wayne Morse, ECDS co-director. “At ECDS, we have seen a significant increase in the number of faculty incorporating open access into their engaged teaching and research.”

Funding for authors’ work

Emory University's Open Access Publishing Fund provides support for Emory authors to publish in open access journals and books when no alternative funding such as grants or departmental funding is available. 

With the help of the publishing fund, Greg Martin and Jonathan E. Sevransky, both intensive care specialists and Emory School of Medicine faculty members, coauthored an article with several non-Emory researchers that appeared in the journal Critical Care titled “Association between hospital mortality and inspiratory airway pressures in mechanically ventilated patients without acute respiratory distress syndrome: A prospective cohort study.” They also placed the article in the OpenEmory repository.

“Without the OA fund, the manuscript, which addresses a clinically important topic, would have either not been published or would have been published in a lower impact journal,” Martin says. 

Researchers interested in knowing more about open access or depositing their articles in the OpenEmory repository can contact Jody Bailey at jody.bailey@emory.edu. For more information about TOME@Emory, please contact Sarah McKee at sarah.mckee2@emory.edu. For digital projects and open access journals, contact Wayne Morse at wayne.morse@emory.edu.