Contact Us | Home | Contact Webmaster

Open Access in the Geosciences


Open access is the practice of providing free, unrestricted access to research results and literature. It means that research results can be read by anyone at any time without having to go to a library that subscribes to a journal or request it through interlibrary loan.

Many Federal funding agencies are requiring grant recipients to provide open access to their research results by publishing in open journals or paying to provide open access to their articles. Many publishers offer an open access option for a fee. GSIS members have developed tables providing information on Geoscience Publishers with Sponsored Open Access Options (Hybrid Journals) and Open Access Journals in the Geosciences.

Why is open access important? The cost of journals and serials has increased much faster than the rate of inflation. As a result, Libraries can no longer afford to buy all of the journals needed to support teaching and research by faculty. Government agencies provide research grants to promote scientific discovery and innovation and improve the economy. More people benefit if the results of that research is available to the widest possible audience.

More often than not, people are turning to the Internet for information. While the Internet can be searched to provide almost immediate information on a topic, that information may not be scientifically sound. For example, an openly accessible Heritage Foundation report on climate change states: “The persistence of coral reefs through geologic time . . . provides substantive evidence that these marine entities can successfully adapt to a dramatically changing global environment. (1)” This statement ignores the fact that some corals in the fossil record no longer exist. The scietific articles that might refute this statement are not openly accessible. The scientific articles that might refute this statement are not openly accessible. Shouldn’t the evidence be available for everyone to read?

Researchers can promote open access by publishing in open access journals, paying open access publishing fees, posting or depositing preprints (copies of articles submitted to journals) or postprints (copies of the article after peer review) on their web sites or in institutional repositories, managing their copyright to ensure that they retain some rights to their work, and complying with (and encouraging) open access policies.

For more information about Open Access, Author Rights, and Copyright, please consult the following resources:

Open Access

Association of American Universities, Association of Research Libraries, The Coalition for Networked Information and National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, 2009. The University’s Role in the Dissemination of Research and Scholarship — A Call to Action. EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 44, no. 2 (March/April 2009): 6–7. Accessed September 10, 2013.

Burton, Gideon, 2009. Scholarly Communication Must Transform. Accessed September 10, 2013.

Columbia University Libraries. Open Access Primer. Accessed October 11, 2013.

Jeffery, Keith G., 2006. Open Access: An Introduction. ERCIM (European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics) News 64. Accessed September 10, 2013.

Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), 2001. Declaring Independence: A guide to creating community-controlled science journals. Accessed September 10, 2013.

Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), 2012. How Open Is It? Defining Open Access for Journals. Accessed October 11, 2013.

Special Libraries Association Science & Technology Division. Should I publish in, or be an editor for, an Open Access (OA) journal? A Brief Guide. Accessed October 11, 2013.

Suber, Peter, 2013. Open Access Overview. Accessed October 11, 2013.

What is Open Access? A guide from SHERPA (Securing a Hybrid Environment for Research).

Copyright & Publication Agreements

Columbia University Libraries. Copyright Quickguide. A guide on copyright developed by the Columbia University Libraries. Accessed October 11, 2013.

Columbia University Libraries. Creative Commons and Open Access. Accessed October 11, 2013.

Columbia University Libraries. Your Publication Agreements. A guide on copyright developed by the Columbia University Libraries. Accessed October 11, 2013.

Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). An Introduction to Copyright Resources for Authors. Accessed September 10, 2013.

Predatory Publishers

The growth of open access had spawned the development of a new kind of publisher, known as Predatory Publishers, that exist to generate revenue from author fees paid by unsuspecting authors. They and their practices have been described in several recent articles:

Beall, Jeffrey, 2012. Predatory Publishers are Corrupting Open Access. Nature, Volume 489, Issue 7415. Accessed September 10, 2013.

Beall, Jeffrey, 2013. Predatory Journals and Publishers. Internet Sites. Accessed October 11, 2013.

Butler, D., 2013. Investigating journals: The dark side of publishing. Nature, Volume 495, no. 7442, 433-435. Accessed September 10, 2013.

Before considering whether to publish in one of these publisher's journals, please consult this helpful guide on choosing and evaluating journals, publishers, and conferences.

Developed by Linda Zellmer, Shaun Hardy and Amanda Bielskas.

1). Idso, Craig D., and Singer, S. Fred, 2009. Climate Change Reconsidered: 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), p. 7. [Chicago, Ill.]: Heartland Institute. Citation of this publication does not indicate an endorsement of the publication or its contents.