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American Association of University Presses Statement on Open Access


The core mission of university presses has always been to disseminate knowledge to the widest possible audience. Members of the AAUP have eagerly developed new ways of fulfilling that mission by making the best use of modern technology to cut costs and achieve even wider distribution of their publications than has been possible in the world of print, often in collaboration with libraries and scholarly societies. Prominent examples include Project MUSE, the History Cooperative, Cambridge Companions Online, Columbia’s International Affairs Online, MIT’s CogNet, Michigan’s digitalculturebooks, Oxford Scholarship Online, and Virginia’s Rotunda.

The increasing enthusiasm for open access as a model for scholarly communication, which grew out of pressure to relieve the financial burden on libraries of maintaining subscriptions to STM journals, presents new challenges and new opportunities for university presses. In its pure form, open access calls for an entirely new funding model, in which the costs of publishing research articles in journals are paid for by authors or by a funding agency, and readers can have access to these publications for free.

However, open access need not be limited to journals and can also be achieved through other models, such as those that combine some form of market-based cost-recovery with free access for users a certain length of time after initial publication, or that offer free access to one form of publication and paid access to others. These and other models are currently being tested and refined by the members of AAUP in partnership with the academic community. Bypassing this laboratory stage of experimentation and development and plunging straight into pure open access, as attractive as it may sound in theory, runs the serious risk of destabilizing scholarly communications in ways that would disrupt the progress of scholarship and the advancement of knowledge.

The members of AAUP will continue to collaborate with all their partners in the university community to design, test, and deploy new, sustainable methods of publishing that will provide increased access to the fruits of scholarship, while maintaining the rigor and high standards of peer review, editorial selection, manuscript development, visual presentation, and international marketing and distribution for which they are known throughout the world.

For more information, visit www.aaupnet.org/aboutup/issues/oa/statement.pdf".

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