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Open Access Week Winds Down: What Can a Scholarly Communication Librarian Do for You?

By Nancy Foasberg

As a great Open Access Week winds down, I wanted to highlight one more resource the library offers to support open access – the Scholarly Communication librarian, that is to say, me!

So, how can a Scholarly Communication Librarian help you?

Finding and Using Openly Available Materials

In a previous post, I made some suggestions about finding open access resources to help you get started.

If you’d like one-on-one help identifying some openly available resources, you’re certainly welcome to contact me! Your subject librarian can also help.

I’m also very happy to help with any questions about reusing materials – for instance, questions about copyright and fair use.

Making Your Work (Openly) Available

If you’ve created a work you want to publish or share, I can help with that too!

If you’re interested in formally publishing in an academic journal, I have guides that can help you choose a reputable journal and retain some of your rights as an author.

Some journals make the works they publish openly available! This doesn’t always involve a fee, but if it does, you can apply for the library’s support via the SOAR: Scholarship and Open Access Reserve Fund.

Maybe you want to share your work on your website or elsewhere.   There’s information about this on the Authors’ Rights guide, and you should also consider using, but I’m also happy to answer questions about this! I can help you look up your publisher’s policies and figure out what you can share, and where.

On the other hand, if you haven’t formally published your work and you want to share it with the world, I can help you choose a Creative Commons license and think through the possible implications.

Posting Your Thesis or Dissertation

If you’re finishing up your thesis or dissertation, first of all, congratulations!

Your department may require that you post your thesis or dissertation to ProQuest before you graduate.  The library maintains some thesis posting guidelines which I hope you’ll find helpful, but you should also feel free to contact me.

Scholarly Profiles

If you want your work to be more easily found, it’s a good idea to set up an ORCID iD and to actively curate your scholarly profile.  I can help you with this process, and identify additional tools that you may find useful.

Journal Hosting

Falvey Library hosts nine academic journals.  Journal editors are better able to answer questions about the journal’s content and policies than I am! But I am available to talk about how the library hosts these journals.

Also, if you happen to publish a Villanova journal, please feel free to get in touch! I can’t guarantee that we can host your journal, but I’m happy to consider it.

Copyright Questions

I’m not a lawyer, but I do have some general knowledge of copyright, fair use, the TEACH Act, Creative Commons, and more.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions about materials you’d like to reuse, or how you’d like to make your own work available.

..and more?

If you have any questions about open access, I’m the person to ask! So please feel free to email me, make an appointment, or just say hello when you see me around campus.

Nancy Foasberg is Scholarly Communication Librarian at Falvey Library.





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Open Access Week: Finding Open Access Resources

By Nancy Foasberg

Happy Open Access Week! This is your Scholarly Communication librarian again, back with some tips for finding great resources online.

Consider this scenario:  You are doing some research, and you come across an article or a book chapter that looks perfect, but it’s not available at Falvey Library. Of course, you should use the library’s Interlibrary Loan services, but there’s also a chance you might find it freely available online.

These are also great resources to remember once you’ve graduated! Open access resources are available regardless of whether you are affiliated with a university or not.

Browser Extensions

Open Access Button or Unpaywall.  These are both browser extensions that search for legal, openly available versions of articles.

If you check Google Scholar for openly available versions of an article, either of these extensions will come in very handy.

When you come across a paywalled article, the browser extension will pop up a padlock symbol – green if the article is freely available somewhere, and gray if it isn’t.

If you see the green padlock, you can click on it for a free version of the article.


Searching for Open Resources

You could always search the Directory of Open Access Journals, which allows you to search for articles published in open access journals, or OpenDOAR, which allows you to search materials in open access repositories.

Alternatively, you could search a repository directly, like arXiv, PubMedCentral, or CORE, or you can use Google Scholar to uncover materials in the myriad repositories that are out there.

You’ve likely heard of and ResearchGate. I am slightly reluctant to recommend these resources because, much like social media sites, their objective is to gather user data, and it’s not very clear what they are doing with that data. However, these sites are very popular and many scholars upload their works there.

If you’re looking for primary sources or otherwise older materials, you might try HathiTrust Digital Library, which includes both open access and public domain items. If public domain items are of interest, you might also consider looking at the Library of Congress Digital Collections, or perhaps Wikimedia Commons.

The library also has a guide to open access and freely available resources with several additional helpful suggestions.

But What about Textbooks?

That’s a great question! The cost of textbooks is a major concern, and my colleague Linda Hauck has blogged about affordable class materials before.

The library has some great tips for saving money on textbooks, including using the library’s collection or reserves, or borrowing from another library via EZBorrow.

If your textbook isn’t already on reserve at the library, you can ask your professor to put it on reserve – any print textbook and some electronic textbooks can be made available this way.  (If you feel shy about asking your professor to do this, your subject librarian may be able to help.)

If you do need to buy your textbooks, you can get a better deal at the bookstore by taking advantage of the Wildcard discount (for more information, see the Affordable Materials Project page) or using the textbook price matching program.

And if you’re having a financial emergency, please apply for the Student Hardship Fund.

Getting Help

Another great way to find open access resources is to talk to your friendly scholarly communication librarian! You can contact me at

And again, you should always feel free to use Interlibrary Loan to access resources we don’t have available here.



Nancy Foasberg is Scholarly Communication Librarian at Falvey Library.





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Open Access Week Continues: Community over Commercialization

By Nancy Foasberg

Hello again! I’m Villanova’s Scholarly Communication Librarian, and this Open Access Week I wanted to share some information about the theme for the week. To access the other posts in this series, please see this series of posts!

This year, the official theme for Open Access Week is Community over Commercialization.

Open Access, Community, and Commercialization

In yesterday’s blog post, I defined open access as the practice of making scholarly works available without price or permission barriers. So, why is the theme of community and commercialization so important for open access?

Currently, the open access landscape includes efforts by many different stakeholders: academic authors, libraries, universities, scholarly societies, granting organizations, and publishers both small and large.  However, these groups have very different goals! Consider which of these groups are likely to be most interested in:

  • Ensuring that information can reach a broader audience
  • Decreasing the cost of accessing information
  • Building equitable scholarly infrastructure

On the other hand, large commercial publishers are likely to be primarily interested in finding new revenue streams.

Publishers play a key role in scholarly communication, but large commercial publishers’ involvement in open access usually comes along with the condition that they can use it to increase their profits. Their preferred solutions are often inequitable – for instance, there are many critiques of author fees and transformative agreements on the basis that they exclude scholars from publishing if their institutions cannot support these costs.

Additionally, large commercial publishers currently control a great deal of the infrastructure for scholarly communication – including tools that were originally built by members of the community.  For instance, Elsevier now owns SSRN, an important subject repository in which scholars in the social sciences share their work, and bepress, the software on which many institutional repositories run.

The Power of Community-Based Infrastructure

Resources built and maintained by the community remain extremely important to scholarly communication, and there are still scholars, advocates, and librarians building new resources.

Note that many of these tools are not, themselves, free to use. However, they are built and maintained by members of the academic community, are often openly licensed, and are intended to facilitate open access, especially fee-free open access.

For more information on what constitutes good open access infrastructure, see The Principles of Open Access Infrastructure is a good starting point. However, this post will primarily feature projects that are supported by entities other than commercial publishers.

Repositories (subject and institutional)

For instance, a lot of subject repositories are community-run, including arXiv (run at Cornell University), one of the oldest and most important preprint repositories. That is, it’s a way for authors to share their articles quickly, prior to undergoing peer review, which can be quite a lengthy process. Many other preprint repositories run on the Open Science Framework, which is a project of the non-profit Center for Open Science.

Many colleges and universities also run their own institutional repositories, and many of them have opted to use platforms like DSpace, Islandora, Hyrax, or Hyku, which are maintained and supported by universities or non-profit organizations. These might include articles before and/or after the peer-review process.

Community-run repositories are important because they don’t favor a particular publisher, they can set policies allowing a variety of types of materials to be shared, and, unlike popular academic social media sites (ResearchGate,, they don’t run on mysterious funding models that involve gathering data about their users.

Journal & Book Publishing

The large commercial publishers have fancy publishing platforms with lots of bells and whistles.

But publishing doesn’t have to rely on these systems.  A huge number of open access journals, including those hosted by Falvey Library, use Open Journal Systems, which is a product of the non-profit Public Knowledge Project and provides a rich, flexible platform that’s relatively easy to use.

When it comes to books and other materials, one good option is Manifold, which was jointly developed by the CUNY Graduate Center, the University of Minnesota Press, and Cast Iron Coding, and is used by several scholarly presses and other organizations.  It’s been used to create open access books, new editions of public domain works, and collaborative class projects.  It’s also been a major tool for creating open educational resources.

Other Tools

Building an open access infrastructure includes many tools other than the front-facing publishing systems described earlier in this post.

Community-built tools for managing scholarly metadata include OpenAlex, an open catalog of scholarly publications built and maintained by the nonprofit organization OurResearch, and the Research Organization Registry (ROR), which assigns persistent identifiers to research organizations (Villanova’s is 02g7kd627).

Standards, too, are a form of infrastructure.  I’d particularly like to point out the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which calls for institutions, funding agencies, and publishers to develop  standards for assessing research outputs that don’t rely as heavily on the role of commercial publishers or the metrics they produce. I would also like to point out the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions, a group of institutions that support each other in developing best practices for institutional open access policies.

Thank you for joining me on this trip through some important landmarks in the open access landscape! This Open Access Week, I think we should be cognizant, not only of how many materials can be made openly available, but also how things become open.


Nancy Foasberg is Scholarly Communication Librarian at Falvey Library.





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Open Access Week Begins: So What is Open Access All About?

By Nancy Foasberg

Open Access Week: What is Open Access?

Hi! I’m the new Scholarly Communication Librarian here at Falvey Library, and one of my major responsibilities is to promote and support open access! For Open Access Week this year, I’ve planned a series of blog posts about open access, why it’s important, and what open access activities are going on here at Villanova.

What is Open Access?

Open access is the practice of making scholarly works available without price or permission barriers.

Free from price barriers means that if a book or an article is open access, you can legally read it online without paying.

Free from permission barriers means that you can distribute, reuse, or remix the materials that you find. This is often achieved by applying a Creative Commons license to the work. However, for many open access strategies, removing permission barriers is considered less important than removing price barriers.

The Open Access Movement consists of scholars, authors, librarians, publishers and others who advocate for open access materials. It’s been around for a long time. Many would date the dawn of the OA Movement from three conferences held in Budapest, Bethesda, and Berlin in 2002-2003, leading to what’s known as the BBB definition of open access.

For a quick video explanation of open access, see Open Access Explained!

Benefits of Open Access

Open access allows anyone to gain access to scholarly resources, including:

  • Practitioners who may not have institutional access (for instance, doctors and nurses)
  • Faculty and students at institutions that don’t have or can’t afford a subscription, including less-well-resourced institutions and those in the Global South*
  • Independent researchers
  • Journalists and popularizers
  • Curious members of the public

This means that scholarly research can reach a broader audience and accomplish more in the world. This helps those that are looking for access, and it also helps the authors who want more recognition for their scholarly work.

A secondary benefit of open access is that it has the potential to save money. In the 1990s, serial costs began to rise more quickly than library budgets at most libraries. Open access was seen as one solution; if materials could be made freely available, libraries could be freed from some of these burdens.  This is especially appealing because the work of scholarly authors, editors, and peer-reviewers is usually considered as part of their overall employment and is not compensated by the publishers.

The next post in this series will consider the question of open access and library costs a little further.

How is Open Access Achieved?

There are many, many business models that can support open access.  The two major “routes” to open access are via the publisher (also known as “gold open access”) and via self-archiving (also known as “green open access”).

Under gold open access, the publisher makes journals (or books) freely available, rather than relying on purchases or subscriptions. While gold open access is commonly associated with author fees, the majority of gold open access publications do not charge such fees! To distinguish between publications that charge fees and those that don’t, some people refer to fee-free open access as “diamond open access.”

Under green open access, the authors, with the publishers’ permission, share their work after publication, either on their own websites or in repositories – sites for sharing scholarly works. Green open access often does not remove permission barriers, but it is important because it allows authors to share their works and still choose where they publish.

What’s Next?

Watch this space for more Open Access Week posts!  Planned posts include:

Also, please consider joining us Tuesday, October 24 at noon for a virtual workshop on Building Your Scholarly Profile!  All are welcome, but faculty and graduate students will be able to best benefit from this workshop.

*This formulation can be problematic because it positions the Global North as creating knowledge and the Global South as passively receiving it.  Suffice to say, this is not the case.  Here is a little more information on open access in the Global South.


Nancy Foasberg is Scholarly Communication Librarian at Falvey Library.





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Last Modified: October 23, 2023

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