Create Change

Shouldn't the way we share research be as advanced as the Internet?

Change & You

Making change work for you

You probably play various roles in the system of scholarly exchange — author, reviewer, society member, for example. Here are some ways you can advance digital scholarship and benefit from expanded sharing of research:

As a researcher and author

If your research is freely shared, you will have a larger potential audience. Open access can increase the impact of your work and make it visible to every search and retrieval tool on the web. Here are some ways to expand the audience for your work:

  • Deposit your research materials (including pre- and/or post-prints of your articles plus supporting data) in an online open archive, such as your local institutional repository or your discipline's repository. Link to it from your personal website.

  • When possible, publish in open access journals, which employ funding models that do not charge readers or their institutions for access. (For a list of open-access journals, see the Directory of Open Access Journals.

  • Consider using grant funds or see if your institution has a special fund to pay the publisher of a journal with whom you publish to make your article publicly available from the time of publication. (Many publishers offer this option to authors).

  • Modify any contracts you sign with publishers, ensuring your right to share your work, including posting on an open archive. To aid you in retaining selected rights, SPARC has developed an easy-to-use Author Addendum to the publisher’s agreement. Use this to ensure you’ve retained a bundle of key rights to share your research article. Or check with your librarian to see if your institution has its own addendum. Or use the Science Commons: Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine.

  • Experiment with new kinds of scholarly works. Ask colleagues and students what they use and show them ones you find.

  • When appropriate, share the data underpinning your journal articles by making it openly available in a digital archive maintained by your institution, discipline, or funding agency. Whenever possible, link to the data files from the articles, and vice versa, so that readers of one know where to find the other.

As a reviewer

Without your efforts as a reviewer, journals wouldn’t exist. Use your valuable time wisely:

  • Referee papers for an open-access journal, which will be available to every potential reader.

  • Consider declining to review for journals that don’t allow authors to post their work in an open archive or that are too expensive. The SHERPA/RoMEO Publisher's Copyright Listing summarizes publisher policies.

As an editor or editorial board member

A journal, press, or monograph series trades on your good name when it lists you as an editor or editorial board member. Be certain you approve of its policies:

  • Read the copyright transfer agreement (or “Publication Agreement,” “License to Publish,” or a similarly titled document) used by your publication. Does it allow authors to deposit their works in open archives (such as your institutional or disciplinary repository)? If not, ask the publisher to change its policy.

  • If your journal is available by subscription, ask the publisher to provide free access to articles that were published more than six months ago. An increasing range of journals is doing this without losing subscribers.

  • If you are working with monographs, ask the publisher to make scanned versions of out-of-print works freely available. For new works, encourage the publisher to define a time period after which monographs will be archived and made freely available. Many university presses are releasing their works several years after publication.

  • Encourage your publisher to investigate open-access business models. Resources to aid in their planning are available from SPARC and the Open Society Institute.

  • If the publisher is uncooperative and pursues policies that unnecessarily restrict access, consider following the example of journals in disciplines such as biology and mathematics by “declaring independence.” Along with the rest of your editorial board, resign from the journal and launch a new, open-access journal to serve the same niche. SPARC can assist you in planning the transition.

  • Look into whether your library provides publishing services. Many research libraries are working with editors of small journals develop open access versions

  • Serve on editorial boards for open-access journals, e-book series, and other kinds of new openly accessible works like wikis. (For a list of open-access journals, see the Directory of Open Access Journals.)

As a society member

  • Help your society understand that the days when its journal is a “cash cow” are fast nearing an end. Get a discussion started about the purposes of the society in the age of digital scholarship and how the society can develop other, more stable sources of revenue.

  • Encourage them to consider open access or delayed open access (e.g., free access after six months) for their own journals. Serve on their committees and governing boards, and write opinion pieces for their newsletters.

  • If the copyright transfer agreement used by your society’s journals doesn’t allow authors to deposit their papers in open archives (such as your institutional or disciplinary repository), ask them to change the policy.

  • Encourage your society to consider how it can help members by evaluating and validating new kinds of scholarly works.

As a faculty member

Work with colleagues in your institution to advance understanding of digital scholarship and foster sharing of research:

  • Encourage your institution to adopt a policy that automatically grants a copyright license from each faculty member that permits deposit of his or her peer-reviewed scholarly articles in the institution's digital repository, from which the works become available for others to read and cite. For details on how to go about this, see Open Doors and Open Minds: What faculty authors can do to ensure open access to their work through their institution.

  • When sitting on grant-review panels or hiring, tenure, or promotion committees, give due weight to peer-reviewed publications regardless of their price, medium, or business model. Evaluate new kinds of works on their own merits. And don’t rely solely on prestige or impact factor — this discriminates against new journals that may be of high quality.

  • Encourage discussion within your department and at your institution of how to recognize the fundamental hallmarks of high quality scholarship, regardless of the specific publisher or type of work.

  • Investigate your campus intellectual property policies and participate in their development.

  • Encourage your institution or its local or regional consortium to set up an institutional repository to permanently archive and expose on the web the intellectual wealth of your institution.

  • Look into whether your library is providing publishing services and have a conversation with a librarian about opportunities to work together.

  • Encourage your library to become a member of SPARC or SPARC Europe. SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition, works to promote open digital scholarship.


Shouldn’t your students have more complete and convenient access to the information they need?

  • Educate the next generation of scientists and scholars about the benefits of sharing their research. Explain that open access is compatible with peer review, copyright, and career advancement.

  • Encourage students to make their own works openly accessible. Support public access to your students' theses and dissertations.

  • Reserve the right for your own publications to be used in the classroom without fee — use the SPARC Author Addendum or your institution's addendum.

Find out how to keep up to date with changes in digital scholarship — go to Stay Informed.