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October 2015

Phonographs on display at the Musee Edison du Phonographe, Quebec

Photo by Regan Walsh, 2010, via Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

In 2005, UNESCO declared 27 October the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve spent a decent portion of your life consuming audiovisual media, whether in the form of news broadcasts, podcasts, TV commercials or, yes, silly cat videos. Today, the sheer volume of audiovisual stuff, combined with the seemingly endless memory of the internet, might make us take its availability for granted. But audio and video recordings are notoriously vulnerable. Tapes are lost, damaged or re-used; technologies become obsolete; valuable recordings gather dust in forgotten cupboards, uncatalogued and inaccessible. The internet might be great at preserving ephemera, but there is a real danger of important cultural knowledge being lost.


For the final blog post in our series celebrating International OA Week, a lighter look at how OA can be promoted.

1. You won’t believe what these academics will do to get their research read!!
2. How to find all you ever wanted to know – FOR FREE!!!
3. This woman released her book chapter on the Internet, guess what happened next!
4. Here’s what happens when a researcher does something nobody else will…
5. You should really think about reading …


Open Access shopfront

Photo by Gideon Burton (9 January 2009) via Flickr. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Open Society (2015) describes ‘Open Access (OA)’ as a new publication and distribution model that takes scholarly research, predominantly funded by taxpayers, out of expensive ‘paywalled’, corporate owned print journals and places the research in freely accessible online journals and repositories. Open Access content is digital, available online, free of charge and free of most copyright and embargo restrictions.


Photo by K Alexander from PUYCELSI, FRANCE - AUGUST 13: These boxes of free books were scattered around the village=

Photo by K. Alexander (2011) via Flickr. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The challenges of OA are well documented. For publishers, perhaps the most obvious is the question of sustainability. OA aims to make research more accessible, but who will bear the cost of this? Publications still need to be peer reviewed, edited, typeset and distributed. How can a publisher maintain quality in all these areas while being true to the goals of OA? Although much discussion of OA focuses on the high profits made by large commercial publishing houses, small and not-for-profit presses are also grappling with the economics of OA. As Kate Worlock points out, some learned societies rely on journal sales to fund their other scholarly activities. Small presses may use income from traditional publishing to fund more innovative and risky ventures. If revenue from traditional sources decreases or dries up, these organisations will need to find new ways to cover their costs.


A lot of what we do here in Scholarly Publishing relates to the running of Sydney University Press, and although it’s a big (exciting!) project, there are many other interesting, smaller projects that come under our remit. With many of these publishing projects, there is more ability and impetus to provide the materials OA.

One such project went live last week – just in time for Open Access Week! – via Sydney eScholarship (SeS).


SUP has been engaged with open access (OA) since the press was re-established in 2003. Over the years, we have published some books in OA on release, while others were embargoed for a year or two depending on the author’s preferences, the nature of the material and the funding model. Many remain behind a ‘paywall’, but we continue to make sure that our books are inexpensive to buy, especially when compared to other scholarly monographs. We also make part of each book available OA, usually the introduction. SUP’s OA books and book chapters are housed at the Sydney eScholarship Repository.


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