Open Access Materials Policy

“Open Access (OA) is a model of scholarly communication that promises to greatly improve the accessibility of results of research. In general terms, scholarly research that is published in open access is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions (although it does require that proper attribution of works be given to authors)” (CARL).

Championing OA is a strategic priority for Western Libraries, and this supports the value of equal access to information, as described in Values Guiding Collections Activities in Western Libraries’ Collections Strategy.

While OA materials are free to read, they are not free to create. Western Libraries’ support for open access gives organizations the funds they need to produce and maintain OA materials. This support includes institutional memberships with OA publishers or organizations that develop open infrastructure. Memberships with publishers often provide a discount or full payment of the article processing charges (APCs) for Western’s researchers. They may also provide “freemium” access to OA content, such as MARC records to promote access to OA content. Memberships with organizations that develop open infrastructure often include an advisory role for the member institution and access to their platforms or tools.

Decisions about which memberships to support and promote to researchers are made by the Western Libraries Open Access Working Group, which includes librarians from the Collections and Content Strategies and Research and Scholarly Communication units. In these decisions, the group considers the following criteria and considerations.

Criteria for Institutional Memberships

  • Membership should send a clear message of support for making research more accessible and allow us to influence scholarly communications in innovative and more sustainable directions.
  • The subjects covered by the initiative must be relevant to Western researchers.
  • The initiative should adhere to best practices for scholarly publishing, such as those provided by DOAJ, COPE, and OASPA.
  • For memberships that relate to APCs, the membership should provide good value for money; for example, a reasonable fee based on the number of articles that Western researchers publish.
  • Memberships that provide APC discounts for hybrid journals will not be considered, even if the membership also provides APC discounts for fully open access journals. Hybrid journals are those that require a subscription to access all content but make individual articles openly available when an APC is paid.

Special consideration will be given to:

  • Venues in which Western researchers are contributing or publishing.
  • Initiatives that support researchers in traditionally under-funded disciplines, such as the humanities or social sciences.
  • Initiatives that have transparent business models.

Memberships are reviewed at least every three years, or more frequently, as appropriate. A decision to continue a membership will be based in part on the level of interest and use among our researchers, and the continued viability of the initiative.