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Open Access

A guide to open access for Macalester faculty, staff, students.

Investing in Open Access

Macalester Library is one of many academic libraries and institutions supporting initiatives to make academic scholarship both free to read and free for authors to publish. These initiatives include open access publishing models, open access infrastructure, and advocacy work. Our support for the open access movement is informed by the following core values:

  • Supporting Macalester-affiliated researchers in both accessing scholarship and publishing it
  • Improving equity in scholarly publishing for researchers from underrepresented countries  and institutions
  • Responsibly stewarding our resources and pursuing long-term sustainability for our budget

Articles available via open access attract more readership that is wider ranging and garner more citations. Open access publishing is rapidly evolving, and there are currently many initiatives across publishers, presses, institutions, and non-profit organizations working to establish sustainable open access models. In an effort to maximize the impact of our limited resources, library staff are developing a rubric to assess open access initiatives that are under consideration for support based on the following criteria:

Transformative Influence

The publishing model, infrastructure, or advocacy work:

  • improves equity in access to and publishing of scholarly works
  • shifts control of who and what is published from corporations back to scholars, research institutions, and scholarly societies
  • provides a more sustainable, long-term path for library subscriptions budgets

Important in Our Local Context

The publishing model:

  • ensures the library's fiscal responsibility
  • supports faculty/staff as authors
  • provides resources that are relevant to our academic community

Open Access and Inequities in Scholarly Publishing

There are a number of existing inequities in the scholarly publishing ecosystem.

  • Journal subscription costs for libraries increase about 2-3% more than the general U.S. inflation rate each year.
  • Five large publishers control a majority of the academic journal publishing market.
  • Journals that are held in high esteem (and weigh into promotion and tenure decisions) are generally held by North American and European publishers who favor topics and perspectives from these areas (e.g. authors from these regions) which creates a lack of bibliodiversity.
  • English is the required language of highly ranked journals and "writing quality" can factor into decisions of which authors are published.

While some OA initiatives are actively working to eliminate these inequities, others serve to reinforce existing power dynamics. One example of this is article process charges (APCs). Although open access makes more research and scholarship "free to read," there are still costs to create and publish these works, and there are a number of different models for how those costs can be distributed. APCs are one such model, but they in turn create a new and different problem, by erecting barriers to publishing for many scholars:

  • APCs put authors with few funding options at a huge disadvantage (authors in low-income countries represent less than 5% of the authors published in journals in the DOAJ).
  • Waivers for APCs create an additional burden on the author to prove eligibility and the process can be an attack on their dignity.

University presses, scholarly societies, and academic institutions from under-represented countries are leading in the development of new publishing models that create open access to read while also reducing the obstacles for underfunded authors to publish. Libraries are at the forefront of supporting these efforts.

Open Access Initiatives

The following are a list of open access initiatives that the Macalester Library currently supports. For your own open access publishing, see a list of open access publishers that the library supports and/or has a publishing agreement: Open Publishers, Partnerships, and APCs.


COAR (Confederation of Open Access Repositories) is an International association of individual repositories and repository networks that aims to build capacity, align policies and practices, and act as a global voice for the repository community. With an emphasis on inclusivity and sustainability the group works to improve interoperability among repositories, enhance bibliodiversity, and support new services and functionalities.

The escalating costs of textbooks parallels the library’s struggles to keep abreast of rising journal costs. Open Educational Resources (OER) are one solution to this multifaceted problem. The Open Education Network (OEN) supports library staff through community, advocacy, and infrastructure–including the Open Textbook Library which provides a means of discovery and peer review. Through this community, library staff have direct access to other practitioners and to best practices in order to support faculty that wish to find, revise, adopt, or create OER and other low cost course materials.

SPARC, (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) works to "enable the open sharing of research outputs and educational materials in order to democratize access to knowledge, accelerate discovery, and increase the return on our investment in research and education.” Advocacy and initiatives include author rights, open access publishing, privacy and surveillance, library subscription negotiations, open research data, and open educational resources.


OAPEN provides open infrastructure services for publishers, libraries, and research funders in the areas of hosting, deposit, quality assurance, dissemination, and digital preservation. OAPEN also operates the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), an index of peer-reviewed open access books and open access book publishers. OAPEN and DOAB are models in increasing trust and discoverability in OA book publishing.

As a subscribing member, we can provide access to the HathiTrust, a digitized collection of resources from the universities of the Big Ten Academic Alliance and the University of California system. The initial focus of the partnership has been on preserving and providing access to digitized book and journal content from the partner library collections. The aim is to build a comprehensive archive of published literature from around the world and to develop shared strategies for managing and developing their digital and print holdings in a collaborative way.

PubPub is an open-source, hosted, free-to-use platform built on open values. It is being used by institutions and organizations of all types to create open access journals, books, and other types of textual/media enriched content. Its strength lies in the content management features paired with editorial functionality. PubPub is supported by members of Knowledge Futures, a nonprofit building open source technologies in collaboration with knowledge communities.

Collections and Research Aggregators

BioOne is an aggregation and indexing service for global scientific society and nonprofit organization open access journal publishers. It provides a cost effective platform for discovery and hosting of these journals in the biological, ecological, and environmental sciences.

LA Referencia is a networked aggregation site of open access repositories from 10 Latin American countries. It provides a unified search interface for open access research articles and doctoral/master’s theses from more than 100 university and research institutions in Latin America

Global Press Archive (CRL) is an initiative to digitally preserve and make more accessible thousands of original print newspaper publications. This digital archive offers full page imaging of newspapers from around the world. Many titles appearing in Global Press Archive are first-ever digital versions of these publications.

Path to Open is a collaboration between JSTOR, university presses, and libraries. As a participating library, our users gain access to new, high-quality frontlist ebooks on JSTOR every year. Three years after publication, the titles will become open access.

A consortium of open access book publishers and open publishing service providers, Open Book Collective, brings libraries and other knowledge institutions together in community toward the goal of a more sustainable and equitable open access book future. The six academic-led, non-profit, born open access book publishers do not charge author fees to publish and select on academic merit rather than commercial interests.

Reveal Digital develops open access, primary source collections from under-represented 20th-century voices of dissent, crowdfunded by libraries. The content is curated and sourced from a wide array of libraries, museums, historical societies and individual collectors. The results are diverse thematic collections of scholarly value available to everyone everywhere.

Redalyc/AmeliCA “is a communication infrastructure for scholarly publishing and open science”--an XML based platform and indexing for new journals that adhere to the values and publishing model of peer reviewed and open access but without article processing charges for authors. It has been compared to the “Plan S” for Latin America and the Global South. A sustainable, community-driven structure for scholarly communication that lowers the publishing barriers for vetted scholarly journals.