Open Access and the SBL

Carl Kinbar
ABD University of South Africa The move toward Open Access journals is arguably one of the most important trends in academia today. It is motivated by the desire to make scholarship available to as broad a constituency as possible, especially where library budgets are increasing strained and to scholars in the developing world. As a large and influential body of scholars, SBL members are uniquely positioned to participate in this crucial endeavor. Most of the OA discussion has focused on science journals, which are generally very expensive (and getting more so) and therefore difficult for libraries, especially in the third world, to subscribe to, especially in their online versions. In addition, even online access does not always translate to free distribution. Rightly understood, copyright law severely restricts reproduction of journal articles unless some form of Open Access is overtly stated online. One response to this situation has been the Public Library of Science (PLoS), founded in 2002 as “a nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource.” PLoS publishes a number of peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals that are freely available online “to read, download, copy, distribute, and use (with attribution). . . ” These journals are protected under a Creative Commons license (see below). How successful has PLoS been? Library Journal reported, “In its second year of publication, Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology had an impact factor of 13.9, making it the highest ranked general biology journal in the world, and five OA journals from BioMed Central ranked in the top five journals in their specialties. These successes are backed by research showing that OA articles generate between 25% and 250% more citations than non-OA articles in the same journal from the same year” (Issue of April 15, 2006). The need for broader access exists in the humanities as well.1 Keeping in mind that the scholarly community does not consist only of a small cadre of researchers in relatively wealthy universities but many thousands of institutional and independent scholars worldwide, access to current research in the humanities is restricted by financial barriers. Access to peer-reviewed journal articles in disciplines in which the SBL takes an interest is severely limited. In the field of early Judaism, for example, the online versions of even the most respected journals that publish in the field, such as the Journal of Jewish Studies, are available to relatively few. Jewish Studies are burgeoning in unlikely places. See, for example, “In China, a Growing Interest in All Things Jewish” in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Issue of August 11, 2006), and the remarkable growth of academic Jewish Studies in Eastern Europe. In these regions, library resources are understandably limited. Open Access is the quickest way to make humanities research available for scholars everywhere, but especially in the developing world.


Previous issues. are available in the JSTOR Arts and Sciences III collection. Ben Zvi comments. in most quarters and been extremely helpful for the journal. JHS has a blind peer review system. peer-review journals that serve as examples of the growing OA phenomenon. Aside from the current are among a number of first and the Jewish Studies Internet Journal (http://www.biu. (Beginning in 2007. JHS was published primarily through the volunteer efforts mentioned above. particularly young scholars of the way in which publication in the journal might come be seen by hiring or tenure committees. JHS “is based on the premise that critical. JBL will also be available as part of the MetaPress online collection — free to SBL members and by subscription to nonmembers and institutions such as libraries.arts. Journal of Hebrew Scriptures According to its founder and General Editor. and the invaluable work of its technical advisor. JBL has a moving window of Open Access. BiBIL. Until recently. academic scholarship in the relevant area free of charge. OA journal also required overcoming perceptions in the academic world. Terry and for some. fast. The Journal of Hebrew Scriptures (http://www. The list of editorial board members and published articles bears out the quality of the entire process. reliably available 24 hours seven days a week from anywhere. academic scholarship should be available and disseminated in a reliable form in a way that takes no account of the financial ability of the individual or institution desiring to retrieve it. RAMBI. critical. 2 . JHS articles are indexed in the ATLA Religion Database. The journal was established therefore to communicate. Social and cultural changes during and since the 90's have eased pre-conceptions about e-journals and e-publication in general.I would like to discuss two OA journals that can serve as models of OA humanities journals – the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures and the Jewish Studies Internet Journal – and then look at ways that SBL scholars can promote Open Access in their respective fields. with financial the support from the Faculty of Arts of the University of Alberta and diverse institutions within it.ualberta. back to 1881. Their abstracts appear in Religious and Theological Abstracts.” Like similar print journals. But I would be remiss were I not to mention that our own Journal of Biblical Literature operates on a hybrid OA model. We addressed these matters by creating from the outset a respected editorial board and a process of blind peer review.) Although this is limited OA. the past three years of JBL are openly available to the public in PDF form on the SBL website. “All e-journals in the 90's faced in one way or another the problem of credibility. it is an important step for an established and respected journal. and THEOLDI. Ben Zvi is careful to give credit to the many individuals who volunteered the extensive time and effort necessary to ensure the journal’s viability and success.” Articles are available on the journal website and also through the National Library of Canada. Establishing an online. Ehud Ben Zvi.

although JHS is now expanding its financial base. JHS now has a print publisher. perceptions of online journals were beginning to change. JSIJ seems to have experienced few difficulties attracting top scholars from the very beginning. but still vital. perhaps because by the time it was established in 2002. and the like. JSIJ seeks to disseminate articles much faster than is possible with paper publication. JHS and JSIJ share many similarities.While volunteer work will remain a central component in the publishing of JHS. It distributed free of charge on the Internet. almost half of the articles in JSIJ have focused on early Judaism (the Tannaitic and Amoraic eras). We should not be surprised if JSIJ appears in a print version before long.3 Although Ben Zvi and his colleagues had to overcome early skepticism about online journals. JSIJ articles are indexed in RAMBI and their abstracts appear in Religious and Theological Abstracts. Along with other volunteer help and impressive board membership.” In its first four issues. As a more mature journal. The website states the journals goals as follows: “By publishing articles electronically via the Internet. then department chair of the Talmud Department at Bar-Ilan University. Both Ehud Ben Zvi and Leib Moskovitz saw Open Access as a primary characteristic of the journals they wished to establish. and to make these articles readily and conveniently accessible to a wide variety of readers at all times. recent grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta will enable JHS to substantially enhance the (free) digital publication of the journal. JSIJ is archived on the BIU servers. not be free of charge. both journals eventually succeeded in attracting significant scholars on the editorial and research sides. volunteers. Gorgias Press will be publishing a subscription hard copy version that will.2 In addition to its continued online Open Access. electronic journal that publishes in all fields of Jewish studies. Leib Moskovitz was the initiator of JSIJ. meeting peer review and copy editing deadlines. Ben Zvi and Butler will talk about what this enhanced digital publication may involve in a session at the upcoming SBL meeting in Washington. Avenues to Open Access 3 . they have overcome what can be considered typical obstacles in establishing and running a journal: technical problems. Journal costs have been underwritten by Bar-Ilan University. Both were conceived by an individual who elicited the help of a core group of fellow scholars and a larger circle of secondary. of course. Jewish Studies Internet Journal JSIJ is a peer-reviewed. Both journals have received financial support from the university. working together with Yosef Rivlin. which should guarantee long-term access. They have been written by significant scholars in the field.

audio and video files. Others restrict it to a secure institutional site (i. Scholars should become informed about the archival activities of their institution.e. prestige. This literature is digital. data files. Such archives can provide OA by default to all their contents or can let authors control the degree of accessibility to their works. and other features associated with conventional scholarly literature.. Some allow online viewing. institutional records. course materials. Some allow the author to retain copyright ownership. A very few allow broad posting. I’d like to step back and look how scholars can become involved in the Open Access movement to make research more accessible to institutions and scholars that are less able. or any other kind of digital file. but not the outside public.”6 This is not an invitation to circumvent copyright restrictions on reproducing journal articles. Some journals already contractually permit scholars to make their articles available in a number ways. careeradvancement. OA journals and OA archives. so students. These archives may be limited to eprints (electronic preprints or postprints of journal articles) or may also include theses and dissertations. One the other hand. We have already looked at two examples of OA journals. indexing. or simply unable.7 Although a number of Open Access archives are organized by discipline (e. online journals. arXiv for physics). Nor does it require that copyright holders waive their under copyright law. Others require the author to assign them full copyright ownership. and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. but acknowledges authors’ rights to use their research and ideas in new articles for open access. or to provide their own OA content. to pay for it. can access the material).g. learning objects. Because OA uses copyright-holder consent. if not of journal articles than of reviews. online. reform. Some journals allow postprint archiving on a scholar's personal webpage or an institutional webpage. many universities have established archives for their own scholars.Having given this brief overview of two Open Access. 4 . It is important for SBL scholars to “read the fine print” of the contributors policy of print journals in which they publish to determine exactly what the publisher allows. 4 There are two primary vehicles for delivering Open Access to research articles. 5 It is important to note that journals that do not wish to convert to OA. OA is compatible with peer review. Some require a delay before online posting. Even journals that are otherwise highly restrictive allow authors to retain “their right to reuse the material in other publications written or edited by themselves and due to be published at least one year after initial publication in the journal. an increasingly common way for scholars both to retain rights and give consent for Open Access is to use one of the Creative Commons licenses. or infringement of copyright law. can still support OA by permitting their authors to deposit postprints of their articles in OA archives. restricting author usage is various ways. while others also allow downloading and printing. free of charge. preservation. it does not require the abolition. print. The bottom line is that those scholars who publish only in print journals may still be able to take advantage of their publisher’s policies to make their research more widely available.

the book is available by free download at https://mitpress. SBL scholars can serve on the editorial boards of OA journals. Depositing new articles takes only a few minutes. go to http://creativecommons. agreements that offer a range of protections and freedoms that they call a “some rights reserved” approach that improves on the access found under copyright’s “all rights reserved. and is done by individual authors. Open Access News (h Due to the generosity of MIT Press. The most comprehensive study of OA publishing is John Willinsky’s The Access Principle (MIT and encourage departmental and institutional support of OA. There are many systems of open-source software available to build and maintain them. see Peter Huber’s weblog. 1 See this excellent overview of Open Access in the humanities by Linda Hutcheon of the University of Toronto: http://open.utoronto.” For more information. For almost daily updates on OA developments around the world. 8 5 . The cost of the journal has been moved from subscriber to another source. SBL scholars will position themselves to contribute to the OA movement in significant ways. 4 The following section is adapted from Peter Suber’s Open Access Overview (at http://www.nav?prodId=Journal201752 7 Some helpful suggestions on how to make your research more widely available can be found on the OhioLINK website ( Finally. when universities host OA archives.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=389&Itemid=66 2 3 Session S-20-61 on Monday afternoon. but producing journals in any form costs 6 This is the policy of the Journal for the Study of the Old See http://www. It is growing in academic favor every day on every continent.Open Access archives are economically sustainable because they are inexpensive and easy to maintain. thus removing the financial barrier to access.earlham. 2006.pdf). Open Access is here to stay.8 Beyond publishing in OA journals and depositing research in OA archives. not archive managers. they are usually committed just as much to long-term preservation as to Open Access. 2005).ohiolink. See the entry for August 30. 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm Fully online journals may be less contend for the full inclusion of peer-reviewed OA journal articles in the tenure process.htm).com/journalsProdManSub.sagepub. By making the effort to become informed about their OA options. 5 Creative Commons provides alternatives to copyright.

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