Sept. 15, 2009

New funds help faculty publish in open-access journals

Cornell University Library and the Office of the Provost are contributing $25,000 each for a pilot program to pay publication fees in open-access journals for Cornell faculty, researchers, staff and students.

Most scholars receive no compensation for research papers they contribute to journals. But high subscription costs that pay for peer review management, editorial services and production can limit access to research. The current shift from the traditional print model of scholarly information dissemination to low-cost digital distribution has the potential to remove all access barriers to research.

"Open-access journals are scholarly journals that are available online to the reader without financial, legal or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the Internet itself," said John Saylor, associate university librarian for scholarly resources and special collections. "Successful, highly regarded open-access publishers include BioMed Central and Public Library of Science, and there are more every day."

To pay for their operating expenses, open-access journals look to sources of income other than subscriptions, such as foundation support, subventions, in-kind support and, increasingly, publication and submission fees (often called author fees).

Cornell -- along with Dartmouth, Harvard, the University of California-Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- is participating in the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity. Compact institutions pledge to underwrite publication charges for articles written by their faculty published in open-access journals supported in part by author fees. If successful, the Compact experiment will lead to new mechanisms of scholarly publishing that are economically sound and provide greater access to Cornell research.

According to Provost Kent Fuchs, "as part of its social commitment as a research university, Cornell strives to ensure that scholarly research results are as widely available as possible. The Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity could increase access to scholarly literature while at the same time ensuring that the valuable services that publishers provide are supported."

The Cornell Open-Access Publication (COAP) Fund will underwrite processing fees for scholarly peer-reviewed articles in open-access journals for which funds are not otherwise available. Cornell faculty, postdoctoral researchers, staff or student authors can apply for COAP funding of up to $3,000.

For more information on journal criteria and to apply for funding: http://www.library.cornell.edu/compact