With subscription prices for academic journals continuing to climb, more people are advocating free online access to full-text scientific and scholarly material.

The movement is called open access, and West Virginia University Libraries is bringing two of its proponents to campus for free, public presentations:

  • Friday, April 25 Barbara Epstein, director of the Health Sciences Library System at the University of Pittsburgh, will speak on changes in scholarly communication, with an emphasis on open access and a new National Institute of Health (NIH) mandate, at 11 a.m. in the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center auditorium.
  • Thursday, May 1 Heather Joseph, executive director of the Association of Research LibrariesScholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, will speak at 10 a.m. at the National Research Center for Coal and Energy. She will focus on what faculty researchers need to know about open access.

Along with these talks, the WVU Libraries is creating Web pages to keep University faculty, graduate students and researchers informed about developments in open access publishing. The libraries have already taken steps into the open access arena by purchasing institutional memberships in BioMed Central, which publishes 186 peer-reviewed journals, and Public Library of Science, a nonprofit group of physicians and scientists dedicated to making the worlds latest research freely available.

Open access is free, immediate, permanent, full-text, online access, for any user on the Web, to digital scientific and scholarly material, primarily research articles published in peer-reviewed journals. Congress became involved in the issue of open access last year when it required anyone receiving NIH funding for research to submit his or her final peer-reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central within a year of acceptance for journal publication. The law went into effect April 7.