International Open Access Week 2021

KU Libraries is pleased to acknowledge the 14th International Open Access Week, October 25 - 31. KU has a long history of leadership and support for Open Access (OA):

  • Former provost David Shulenburger noted the impending crisis in scholarly communication and loss of resources as far back as 1999, calling for open access to scholarly literature before that term was widely known.
  • In 2005, KU Libraries launched KU ScholarWorks, KU’s institutional repository, which now provides free access to 26,000 scholarly works created by KU faculty, staff, and students. These works have been accessed over 13 million times (as of October 2021).
  • In 2009, the KU Faculty Senate adopted an Open Access Policy for University of Kansas Scholarship, becoming the first public institution to follow examples set by Harvard and MIT.
  • The David Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright was established in 2013 and continues, in partnership with many other units in KU Libraries and beyond, to advocate for and support OA to scholarly literature.

Below, learn more about the benefits of open access, changes in the scholarly publishing landscape, and KU Libraries’ support for open infrastructure and initiatives.

Benefits of Open Access

Open Access benefits authors by expanding the potential audience for research to anyone with an internet connection. Broader readership of scholarly works, including peer-reviewed articles, can lead to increased citation, impact, recognition, and potential future collaborations, all of which help researchers to advance in their careers. Additionally, OA gives authors greater control over their work and amplifies academic freedom. Traditional publication contracts tend to favor publishers and limit author rights and privileges. OA tips power back toward authors and readers. Often OA journal publication contracts are licenses to publish rather than copyright transfers, allowing authors to retain their copyright post-publication. Because OA can be achieved through publishing or archiving a copy of published works, authors remain free to submit manuscripts to their preferred journal, and most journals have multiple options for open sharing.

Open Access also benefits the global scholarly community. Research accelerates when it is shared with everyone who can make use of it, regardless of national or institutional privilege or affiliation. Sharing the results of research openly removes barriers between authors and readers, and among disciplinary communities, contributing to an academic culture that is more expansive, diverse, equitable, and well-rounded. Universal access may contribute to solutions to the most complex problems of our time.

Finally, Open Access benefits the general public. The very purpose of research is to solve problems, expand knowledge, and improve our lives. By eliminating unnecessary barriers, OA supports practitioners beyond the academy, informs policy, and expands the number of potential contributors to, and beneficiaries of, research. The public whose taxes fund research and academic institutions should benefit from their investment. OA is a positive return on investment of both funding and time, and accelerates the impact and benefits of research. For example, OA contributed immensely to the development of safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19.

Changes in Scholarly Publishing

In the late 1990s, large commercial publishers began offering comprehensive subscription packages, typically their entire portfolio, which became known as Big Deals. At first, Big Deals were seen as too good to pass up; however, prices of these packages have increased at a steady rate, above the rate of inflation. At the same time, the volume of literature has grown substantially, new journals have been created, and library budgets have remained flat. In fact, at KU, the present budget for content is unchanged since 2009, which results in an estimated $500,000 loss in purchasing power every year. Big Deals have become bloated with unused and underused content, and they are too expensive to maintain.

As a result, we and many others have been in the process of dismantling these large packages for smaller packages of more carefully selected titles. That work, of unbundling large journal packages, must and will continue. However, we conduct these difficult changes carefully, and seek to maximize value and access within our budget constraints.

Support for Open Access at KU

Today, KU Libraries’ Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright, in partnership with other units in KU Libraries, continues to support OA to KU research through a variety of methods. In addition to traditional scholarly communication services, KU Libraries contributes to a growing number of initiatives to expand open publishing infrastructure, such as the Open Library of the Humanities and the PLOS Community Action Publishing model.

Experts are available to provide advice and training on author’s rights, archiving work in KU ScholarWorks, leveraging the Faculty OA Policy, the One University OA Author Fund to cover article processing charges in open journals, identifying open journals and assessing their legitimacy, understanding publication contracts and publisher policies regarding open sharing, and building a robust digital scholarly presence to achieve maximum visibility and impact.

Get started at Open Access at KU or by contacting to request information, a consultation, or a presentation on any of these issues outlined above.