After more than 20 years of rapid growth in open access (OA) publishing, discovery and access of scholarly resources continues to be a challenge. While studies show OA articles enjoy benefits of greater discoverability, such benefits are mainly applicable for public repositories and open-web search engines. Institutional research channels, on the other hand, have notable OA blind spots. Libraries of all kinds are struggling to expose patrons to freely available content alongside traditional print and digital resources.
Researchers are under pressure to develop strong reputations in their fields of study and are often in competition with one another for grant funding -- leaving many authors and readers with mixed reactions to open content, which do not always align with existing research practices. Dedicated open access tools are still lacking the capability to surface all relevant material, open or otherwise, and there is not yet consensus around a comprehensive database of open access journals. This is due in part to disagreement on what qualifies as OA, and nuanced differences between various types of OA publications further confound the digital concept of a “final” version of record.
Publishers are responding to increasing funder mandates and launching innovative new OA programs, inverting the usual subscription model. However, many of us in the scholarly communications supply chain suffer from some faulty assumptions about what successful discoverability of open access research articles entails. Discoverability is not solved simply by a lack of paywall, therefore effective dissemination requires us to carefully architect publications, and their infrastructure, to serve today’s prevailing research practices and information-seeking pathways.
Improving Open Access Discoverability via Integrated Systems
Various “shades” of open access mean that libraries, vendors, and publishers alike must attend to the different copyright terms at play. In the last few years, library discovery services and knowledge bases have only just begun to integrate OA publications with any notable impact, as most assumed users would magically discover freely available content on their own... These misconceptions have resulted in metadata and indexing gaps, undermining the visibility and accessibility of OA content across myriad scholarly search and discovery channels.
The best solution, I think, for corporate and academic libraries alike, is to incorporate OA articles within existing discovery tools. Integrated systems put all the necessary tools in one place for busy researchers. The ideal user-centric approach to design of research information services is one that brings together the most comprehensive search across entitled content. One leading option for such an integrated approach is the Article Galaxy solution from Research Solutions, which offers robust open access filtering to allow for more comprehensive discovery and delivery of OA articles. Rather than locking users and customers into a one-directional solution, Article Galaxy has partnered with multiple suppliers and vendors to serve diverse workflows and budgets.
Leveraging a custom Unpaywall application, Article Galaxy can expand search results presented to researchers and expose OA content alongside current holdings and pay-per-view options. Notably, Research Solutions has enhanced its use of the Unpaywall API to account for some inherent limitations in OA discovery. For instance, although a bit surprising, not all journal content uses DOI and that includes open access titles. And, when DOAJ purged known predatory journals from their rolls, Research Solutions did the same. Rather than relying on a single source, the Article Galaxy OA filter feature draws on best-in-class advances across the publishing space.
The demand for modern, efficient scholarly content discovery channels is higher than ever – with an estimated 3 million articles added to the mix each year. Readers expect their institutions to provide a comprehensive, dependable, and accurate search of the universe of legitimate, peer-reviewed content. Research shows that readers of scholarly content have come to rely on patched workflows across both institutional and open-web search engines. Rather than training users to change their workflows by downloading a browser plugin or adding another database to their search strategies, Article Galaxy can power-up well-loved library search and interlibrary loan systems, while maintaining a modern user experience. Integrated solutions like Article Galaxy can deliver the most comprehensive search of available content for users, while keeping prices low for libraries.
The discovery and access solutions from Article Galaxy continue to evolve and I look forward to seeing what comes next. For more information, contact an Article Galaxy expert.
Lettie Y. Conrad
Product & Publishing Consultant. California, USA
Lettie brings nearly 20 years’ experience in scholarly publishing to her diverse portfolio of product research and development projects. She is dedicated to helping information organizations cultivate a user-centered, standards-compliant approach to digital publishing and academic programs. Her expertise lies in optimizing user engagement for content discovery and access of academic content platforms. Previously, Lettie played a key role in establishing the product management program at SAGE Publishing. Currently, Lettie is North American Editor for Learned Publishing, a ‘chef’ with the SSP’s Scholarly Kitchen blog, and Information Science PhD candidate at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.