While we wait for the open access revolution, self-archive!

I’ve just had a paper published on open access in ecology and evolution, so I thought I would let you know what it’s all about.  I wrote a few weeks ago about how you can often post more of a scientific paper online without violating copyright than you might think.  I went through a couple of journals in which I had published articles, and tried to work out what I could self-archive.  The answer was usually “quite a lot”!  Then someone in the comments popped up and mentioned the SHERPA-ROMEO website, which allows you to search for the name of the journal in which your paper has been published and then shows you the policy on self-archiving.  Well, being the data-lover that I am I decided to check out the rest of the journals in ecology and evolutionary biology (all 165 that were listed on Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports).  The results were pretty interesting…

You can read the full paper for free here (the journal, Ideas in Ecology and Evolution, is completely open access), but here are the cliff notes:

  1. There are a wide range of benefits to self-archiving, including (i) increased impact through greater citations and downloads, (ii) increased access for the developing world, and (iii) reduced costs for libraries.
  2. Most journals allow you to self-archive the final version of the article, just not the final publisher’s PDF copy (i.e. all changes are made, but you can’t use the typeset version).
  3. Journals with higher impact factors tend to have more restrictive policies on self-archiving.
  4. Publishers vary in their self-archiving policies, with Wiley-Blackwell (and not Elsevier!) having some of the most restrictive policies.
  5. I provide a wide array of links to help people self-archive if they are not already doing so, including to free web site services.

Basically, self-archiving means that lots more people can access your research (and cite it!), and is very easy to do.  This idea that publishers have a strangle-hold on scientific literature is only partly true and self-archiving provides a methods to circumvent some of that control.  Spread the word!

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