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3,801,432 downloads, funds for authors — and a new university press

It's Open Access Week! Here’s how Concordia Library supports this global movement
October 24, 2016
By James Roach


Imagine a world where social and scientific breakthroughs that could change lives are guarded behind walls.

If your mind’s eye conjures up images of medieval castles where vital research is locked up, you wouldn’t be far from the paywall economy of traditional scholarly publishing.

But open access (OA) is not like conventional for-profit publishing: it offers unrestricted, free online access to peer-reviewed scholarly research.

October 24 to 30 is Open Access Week all over the world. Back in 2010, Concordia's Senate passed a landmark resolution that established the university as a leader in the movement.

Concordia Library has played a major role in promoting open scholarly communications since those early days. And it’s about to get even bigger…

The new Concordia University Press

This week, Concordia is launching a new press founded on the open access model. The non-profit publisher of peer-reviewed books officially begins operations on October 27. It is one of only three university presses created in Canada over the past 30 years.

Editor-in-chief Geoffrey Little says it’s an exciting moment, as planning for the creation of Concordia University Press began over three years ago.

“From the start, we were motivated by a desire to support the mission of the university by publishing high-quality books in the humanities, fine arts, and social sciences without any access restrictions.”

He points out that university librarian Guylaine Beaudry and Concordia’s provost Graham Carr championed the project from the beginning, and it also received support from many partners and allies in the Concordia and North American publishing communities.

An arm’s-length organization of Concordia University, the press was founded with the desire to innovate and help transform society. The editorial focus will centre on the themes of life, knowledge and creation in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Works will be published in English and French.

Supported, in part, by the Birks Family Foundation and Brian I. Neysmith, the Concordia University Press reaffirms the school’s mission to enrich the world through the dissemination of research.

“The creation of a university press is an important and meaningful investment by Concordia in the future of scholarly publishing in Canada and in the evolution of the book,” Little says.

3.8 million downloads and counting

Spectrum, the university’s web-based research repository, enables faculty, researchers and students to upload their published work. It preserves research created at Concordia, and in the spirit of open access, allows the public to download its entire contents for free.

This benefits both the general public and researchers worldwide.

The 2010 Senate resolution on Open Access positioned Concordia as the first university in Canada to adopt a mandate encouraging all faculty with scholarly articles accepted for publication in peer reviewed journals to deposit a copy in Spectrum.

Fast facts on Spectrum

1.    Since Spectrum’s 2009 launch, more than 3,801,432 documents have been downloaded.

2.    In the last year, the most downloaded author was marketing professor Michel Laroche, and one of his articles was the second most downloaded item, with 5,666 downloads.

3.    The most downloaded item in the last year was a master’s thesis written in 2002 by Mamokhele Julia Maduna, with 6,085 downloads.

4.    The Faculty of Arts and Science has deposited the most documents (5,289) since 2009.

In the last year, Concordia faculties deposited the following number of items (mostly articles and theses):

5.    The top 10 countries with the highest number of downloads in the last year are: 
(# of downloads in parentheses)

1.       Germany (185,406)
2.       China (87,179)
3.       United States (78,831)
4.       Canada (57,990)
5.       UK (37,777)
6.       India (23,258)
7.       France (11,836)
8.       Japan (8,684)
9.       Korea (8,656)
10.    Vietnam (7,626)

Concordia’s Open Access Author Fund

The Concordia Library and the Office of Research established the Concordia Open Access Author Fund in 2011 to help researchers publish their findings. The fund reimburses university authors when they are charged author-processing fees to publish monographs, monograph chapters or peer-reviewed journal articles in eligible open access journals.

“Since some publishers levy fees as high as $5,000 to publish peer-reviewed research in their journals and monographs, unless an author has a sizeable research budget they can find themselves without financial backing to share their findings with the world,” says librarian Danielle Dennie, responsible for scholarly communications.

The fund is open to full-time and part-time Concordia faculty and staff members, as well as all currently registered graduate students and postdoctoral fellows affiliated with Concordia.

Since its inception in 2011, the fund has supported the open access publication of 81 articles, with an average reimbursement in 2015-16 of $2,049.14 per article.

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