FAQ

  1. Where can I find more information about OER?
  2. What’s the difference between a copyright and a license?
  3. What are my options if I want to publish openly?
  4. How do I get funding for OA publishing?
  5. Are open access journals peer reviewed?
  6. How do I know if an open journal is high quality or a scam?
  7. Why should faculty nominate their students’ work to be included in The Cupola?
  8. What about open access books?
  9. What is an APC?

1. Where can I find more information about OER?

The following guides offer reliable information about various aspects of OER:

  • University of Oklahoma Libraries OER Guide (includes subject-specific lists of OER)
  • University of Illinois Libraries OER Guide
  • Washington State University Libraries OER Guide (includes examples of OER-based assignments)
  • Virginia Tech University Libraries OER Guide
  • UMass Amherst Libraries OER Guide

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2. What’s the difference between a copyright and a license?

Creators of a work automatically own the copyright to it, which amounts to having the exclusive legal right to perform, reproduce, distribute, copy, and prepare derivatives of the work. Publishers therefore need to be granted the right to reproduce the work by the copyright holder. This can happen in two ways: the creator transfers ownership of the copyright to the publisher, or the creator retains copyright but grants necessary permissions to the publisher in the form of a license.

A helpful analogy is selling versus renting your house. When you sell, you transfer all your rights to the new owner. When you rent out your home, you grant the renters the right to live in the home under certain conditions and for a defined period of time. You still own the house, but you have authorized others to use it. Copyright holders do something similar when they grant someone a license to reproduce their work. They still own the copyright and therefore have a say over how the work gets reproduced, distributed, and so on.

Publishers are rarely satisfied with being granted a license. Typically, authors sign a contract that transfers their copyright to the publisher(meaning authors lose control of their work). But publishers do not need to own the complete copyright to perform their work; they only need certain permissions from the copyright holder in the form of a license. Consider using the SPARC Author Addendum if you want to change the terms of a publisher’s boilerplate contract. You may also be interested in the Working and Negotiating with Publishers session held at Gettysburg College in October, 2017.

If you share your work online, consider assigning a Creative Commons license to it. Creative Commons offers a range of licenses that specify what readers may and may not do with the work without seeking permission from the copyright holder. The licenses range from more open to less open. Librarians are happy to consult with you about the licenses, and they can be easily assigned to anything in The Cupola or elsewhere.

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3. What are my options if I want to publish openly?

There are two main pathways for making your work open access:

Open Access Journals or Books. This method is sometimes called “Gold Open Access.” It refers to work that is open from the moment of publication and does not charge readers to access the material. OA journals fund themselves through advertising revenue, grant money, and/or article processing charges (APCs - see also What is an APC?). Authors can cover these fees through external or internal funding. At Gettysburg College, requests for open access funding may be submitted to the Research and Professional Development Fund. Faculty may also find funds available from their departments, startup funds, or grant funds.

  • Search the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) to find relevant OA journals in your field

Open Repositories. This method is sometimes called “Green Open Access” or “self-archiving.” It refers to work that is open because the author has deposited a copy in an online repository maintained by the author’s institution, professional organization, or other sponsoring entity. Sometimes, the copyright holder does not allow the author to openly share the final, published version of the work that has been formatted, copyedited, and typeset by editors at the journal. The copyright holder may allow earlier versions to be shared openly, though. Earlier versions include preprints (the author’s submitted manuscript) and postprints (the author’s accepted manuscript).

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4. How do I get funding for OA publishing?

At Gettysburg College, requests for open access funding may be submitted to the Research and Professional Development Fund. Faculty may also find funds available from their departments, startup funds, or grant funds. Some faculty have successfully obtained APC waivers as well. Feel free to consult with a librarian about your specific situation.

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5. Are OA journals peer reviewed?

Yes. Just like fee-based journals, there is a lot of variation among OA journals in terms of editorial practices and content quality. While there are exceptions, most OA scholarly journals use the same peer review process – and the same peers – as traditional journals. If you have concerns about a particular journal, feel free to consult with a librarian.

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6. How do I know if an open journal is high quality or a scam?

Unethical publishers are sometimes called "predatory publishers." There is a growing industry made of "publishers" that operate in a couple of ways. Some contact new authors (particularly graduate/undergraduate student authors) and "offer" to publish their work in exchange for the copyright. They typically post the work on amazon or other sites and print a copy on demand for anyone who orders it (usually almost no one). Others create a fake journal which is not peer-reviewed or edited, and they charge authors for publishing in said journal. Often these journal titles are very similar to legitimate, established journal titles.

If you receive a "too good to be true" communication about your scholarship, please be skeptical. Librarians are happy to help investigate the legitimacy of such communications.

To evaluate the quality of an OA journal, use the Open Access Journal Quality Indicators created at Grand Valley State University.

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7. Why should faculty nominate their students’ work to be included in The Cupola?

We want exemplary Gettysburg College student work to appear in The Cupola.  Professors are our best source of information about which students are producing that work.  Please fill out the Student Nomination Form to nominate a student (include detail about the work itself).  We will contact the student and invite them to upload their work. Excellent student work at any level is appropriate to include.

ImportantStudent work is not shared without final approval from the supervising professor.  If you wish, you may review the final upload and "approve" or "disapprove" before the library makes the work public.  If you are aware of copyright violations or issues with IRB/IACUC review, please do not approve the work.  Without your final approval, we will not publish the student's work – unless it has been vetted for quality in another venue (ex: the Stock Writing Prize has already been evaluated by faculty, so we would only work with the student prize winner to gain permission).

As always, you can reach us at cupola@gettysburg.edu.

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8. What about open access books?

Open access publishing started in journals but is rapidly spreading to books. This is a quickly evolving area of academic publishing, and we encourage you to contact us if you are interested in publishing an open book.

Many university presses are offering open publishing options. The peer review and editing workflows are identical to those used with their regular title list. The University of California Press Luminos imprint is an excellent example of an open publishing option for monographs.

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9. What is an APC?

An APC, or Article Processing Charge, is an author-facing fee required to openly publish an article or book.

Not all open access journals charge APCs! APCs are more common in the science disciplines and extremely uncommon in the humanities. The Open Library of Humanities journal titles have no author-facing fees. Musselman Library is a supporting institution of OLH.

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