By Erin Martel, Communications RA

Picture of a blackboard with the word "together" written on it.Did you know that about 75% of academic articles are closed access and require a fee to read them? This paywall is a problem for community-campus engagement researchers because we want to make our research available to everyone, especially our community partners!

Knowledge is a resource that should be shared democratically. In an effort to make information free for all many universities and funders actually require open access to the academic articles they fund. Hiding knowledge behind a paywall creates inequality not just at home, but on a global scale. The good news is that we can make access to knowledge more democratic by taking advantage of open access publishing. Here’s how!

Publish in Open Access Journals

Often called the “gold route” to open access, open access journals are scholarly journals that are free for anyone to read, no subscription required. Although sometimes seen as less legitimate than closed publishing, it is important to note that a number of open-access journals are peer-reviewed and well-respected!

Opt for OA Within Closed-access Journals

An increasing number of closed access journals are allowing authors to choose to make their articles open access for an “article processing fee” paid by the author or funder. The article is still published in their journal, but is not behind a paywall. Many closed access journals also make an article open access (without processing fees) after a set amount of time, or an embargo period.

Self-Archive your Research in Open Access Repositories

If you published your article in a closed access journal, you may still be able to make it available to more people through self-archiving in open access repositories. This approach is often called the “green route” to open access. Check your publishing agreement to see what options are available to you. Some journals allow you to disseminate your article to websites or repositories after an embargo period has passed or some allow post-print versions to be self-archived immediately. There are many places to post your research: your university or funder might have a repository for published articles or you can look for repositories dedicated to your subject. See below for resources on how to find open access repositories.

Make your Research Available on your Website

Many academics archive their research on their website. It is an additional avenue for making your research available, but should be used in concert with other methods that have a wider reach. Just be aware that most people turn to Google when they are looking for information. Google’s bots will automatically find articles that have been posted online in most cases, but to make sure that your research is being included in results, Google has provided some helpful information in their help pages.

Don’t Forget About Community-partnered Conferences!

Extreme wide shot of a conference room filled with participants listening to a presentation.

Participants listen to CFICE’s Engage! 2017 conference presentation.

A more hands-on option is to participate in conferences that include community groups. Meetings and conferences that include both academics and community representatives allow for sharing knowledge and building relationships. These events give community a forum to share and learn about research findings as well as provide feedback. Look for community partnered conferences such as the C2UExpo, Pathways to Prosperity Conference or the Communities, Conservation & Livelihoods Conference, to name a few.

I hope that you are thinking about ways to make your research more accessible. If we missed anything, please share your ideas on how to improve access in the comments below. In the coming weeks, we will share the “Top 5 places to share your CCE Research” and offer more specifics on how to get your research seen and heard.

For More Information on Open Access:

Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook

International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP)

SPARC Open Access

Open Access Archiving: the fast track to building research capacity in developing countries (Article)

Directories of Open Access Repositories:

The Open Access Director

The Open Access Map

Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies