Category Archives: Open Access Successes

Editors of Lingua take a stand for open access

Posted November 10, 2015

Not long ago, the editorial board of the journal Lingua decided that it was time to end business as usual–and they resigned in protest in order to cut ties with Elsevier and establish Glossa, a new open access journal. Lingua, a respected linguistics journal with a distinguished 60-year history, was acquired by Elsevier in the 1980s. Even as publication costs were reduced by technology, Elsevier followed a publishing model that served owners rather than readers, which has driven up the price of access to the journal for individuals and for institutions. Faced with falling budgets and skyrocketing fees, a university library may find itself in the position of losing access to content provided by its own faculty, or forced into a “bundle” subscription that includes unwanted titles—not unlike a cable TV package that imposes a dozen unwatched channels for every one that a viewer actually wants.

Just as so-called “cord cutters” are moving away from cable packages thanks to shifts in technology, access, and public opinion, so too are researchers and scholars taking a stand against long-dominant business models that are falling out of favor as open access publishing gains ground in the academic community. Authors in many scholarly fields are pressing for open access options so that scholarly works in their fields can be more broadly accessible. We at Authors Alliance believe that empowered authors can contribute to innovative and sustainable publishing models that expand our opportunities to share knowledge with readers. We applaud the courageous decision of the Lingua editors to do just that by striking out on their own to to create Glossa. We wish them great success in this new venture, which could well point the way for other academic journals to follow suit.

Our new handbook, Understanding Open Access, will be released this month. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments, or wish to share your own experiences with open access publishing, get in touch and let us know!

Understanding Open Access:
The Human Side of Machine Readability

Posted October 22, 2015

OA Guide Cover

In celebration of Open Access Week, we are offering sneak previews of our forthcoming guide, Understanding Open Access: When, Why, & How To Make Your Work Openly Accessible. This guide is the second volume in our series of educational handbooks, following on the success of Understanding Rights Reversion. Our goal is to encourage our members to consider open access publishing by addressing common questions and concerns and by providing real-life strategies and tools that authors can use to work with publishers, institutions, and funders to make their works more widely accessible to all. We will officially launch the guide on November 3 during our workshop on “Writing To Be Read” at the New York Public Library. In the meantime, here’s a short excerpt from Chapter 4 about the benefits of technical openness and machine readability.


Removing legal restrictions on use is a key component of making your work openly accessible. Authors may also want to consider additional factors that shape how available their works are for readers to fully access, share, and reuse. Making a work available in a machine-readable format can increase readers’ ability to access and use your work and maximize its reuse.

Cory Doctorow is a fiction writer, activist, blogger, and journalist and a member of Authors Alliance. After making his novel Little Brother openly accessible, Mr. Doctorow received a braille copy of the book from Patricia Smith, a Detroit public school teacher of visually impaired students. Although braille versions may be permissible under one or more copyright exceptions, creating a braille version often first requires painstakingly entering text into a digital format. This obstacle prevents many works from being translated into braille. However, because the text of Little Brother is openly available without technical limitations to prevent its copying, printing, and sharing, Ms. Smith was able to directly run the book’s digital file through a braille embosser and make the book available to her visually impaired students.

Ms. Smith also included a note, which stated: “What I could not enclose is the gratitude from my braille reading students. For various reasons, most books in braille are aimed at younger children. My students are all between the ages of 12 and 15 and have no real interest in reading a Kindergarten level book. I was finally able to give them something interesting, compelling, and, most importantly at their grade level.”

Machine-readable formats enable search engines to index the entire text of a work, in turn making it easier for readers to search for and find works. Making metadata about your work available in standardized formats also enhances your work’s machine-readability and helps readers find it. Metadata includes information such as the author’s name, institutional affiliation, the title of the work, an abstract, and open access license terms. Open access repositories commonly include this metadata when a work is uploaded to the repository.


We will post excerpts from Understanding Open Access throughout the week. If you have questions or comments, or wish to share your own experiences with open access publishing, get in touch and let us know!

Authors Alliance Members Lead Push toward Open and Accessible Legal Education

Posted September 2, 2014

Textbooks are essential instructional tools but they’re not without problems. Most familiar to students is the problem of cost: textbook prices have been significantly outstripping inflation for some time, rising 82% between 2003 and 2013 and giving rise to charts like the one below. But there’s also the issue of tailoring. There might not be a textbook that’s a perfect match for a given instructor’s needs, but the traditional model requires students to purchase material their instructors may have no interest in teaching.

Authors from a variety of fields are making strides to bring accessible and open educational resources that provide educators with choice regarding the price and contents of course materials. Legal education, which relies in large part on public domain texts like cases and statutes, is particularly poised for change. Authors Alliance members, committed to authorship in the public interest, are leading the charge.

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