Friday, November 15, 2013

SPARC Applauds Senators Durbin and Franken for Bill to Make College Textbooks More Affordable

SPARC Applauds Senators Durbin and Franken for Bill to Make College Textbooks More Affordable

Washington, D.C. – The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) today applauded Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Al Franken (D-MN) for introducing the Affordable College Textbook Act of 2013, which would reduce the cost of college textbooks by expanding the use of open educational resources - academic materials that everyone can use freely.

"Higher education is calling for solutions to the textbook costs crisis, and this bill provides an answer," said Nicole Allen, Open Educational Resources Program Director for SPARC, which works to broaden access to academic knowledge. "For too many students, the cost of textbooks has become simply unaffordable, even with cost saving measures like renting and used books. It is time to focus on solutions that deliver meaningful, long-term savings for students, and open educational resources are the most effective path forward."

The cost of textbooks has emerged as a significant piece of the college affordability and access debate. Textbook prices increased 82% between 2002 and 2012, and the average student budget for books and supplies has grown to $1,207 per year. Despite the vast potential for technology and the internet to solve this problem, many digital materials – especially e-textbooks – actively restrict much of this potential and perpetuate high costs.

Open educational resources (OER) provide a new model for publishing academic content that is designed to take full advantage of the digital environment. OER are textbooks, videos, articles, and other materials that are distributed online under a license granting advance permission for everyone to freely use, adapt and share them. Using open textbooks in place of traditional textbooks reduces the cost to students by 80-100%.

Details About the Bill

The Affordable College and Textbook Act directs the Department of Education to create a competitive grant program for higher education institutions (or groups of higher education institutions) to establish pilot programs that use OER to reduce textbook costs. Pilot programs may focus on using existing OER, creating or improving new OER, or conducting efficacy research – or any combination of these, so long as the end result is student savings.

Any educational materials developed or improved through the program will be posted online and licensed as OER so that everyone – including other colleges, students and faculty – can feely use the materials. The bill contains a strong definition of an open license with equivalent to the terms to the Creative Commons Attribution License, which grants full reuse rights on the condition of author attribution. This license would ensure the public gains the maximum benefit of the materials created through the grant program.

"While the potential benefits of this bill to students and professors alike are tremendous, it is important to note that states, institutions and faculty members can start leveraging the power of open educational resources today," said Allen. "From Tidewater Community College's zero textbook cost degree to Washington State's Open Course Library, dozens of initiatives are already leading the way. As we advocate for the bill, we should also advocate for the ideas behind it right away."

To follow the conversation on this issue on Twitter use the hashtags #oer and #oerusa.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Representative Yoder (R-KS) made the following statement in support of Open Access

Representative Yoder (R-KS) made the following statement in support of Open Access and FASTR on
the floor of the House of Representatives for us earlier today - bless his heart!

Here's the YouTube video of the statement:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Is Your Research Reaching Its Audience? - Faculty Senate Scholarly Communications Forum

Faculty Senate Scholarly Communications Forum to Explore Article-Level Metrics for Evaluating the Impact of Research
October 22
School of Education Room 120 
3-5 pm
You’ve published your research. How can you find out how and where it’s being cited, referenced, discussed, downloaded, and shared? Try using Article-Level Metrics (ALM), a comprehensive set of easy-to-understand indicators that track how an article is being read, discussed, and cited. This collection of real-time impact indicators let you see the article’s influence and reach. Now you can stay up-to-date with the reach and influence of your research, and then share this information with your collaborators, your academic department, and your funders. Use this data to build your CV, your network, and your career.  In other words: maximize the impact of your research. Come and find out more at the Forum talk.

Our Guest Speaker, Jennifer Lin, Senior Product Manager PLOS (Public Library of Science) will speak followed by reaction from a faculty panel.  The panel includes Stan Faeth, Head and Professor of Biology; Nicholas Oberlies, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry,  and Robin Remsburg, Dean, School of Nursing.

Resources to Assist Researchers and Librarians

Here is a short article from Diane Dawson on "Making your Publications Open Access"  It is an excellent quick guide to resources that can assist researchers and librarians.  Article

Monday, October 7, 2013

SPARC's response to the Science Magazine's Open Access "Sting"

SPARC has sent out a response to the Science Magazine article reporting on the exposed flaws in the editorial processes of Open Access journals.
Sparc response

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

New journal open-access scientific journals is now accepting submissions online

New journal open-access scientific journals is now accepting submissions online -

Elementa’s Editors-in-Chief give their thoughts on open access, the journal, and its mission:

Elementa is an open-access, nonprofit journal, founded by BioOne and five collaborating academic institutions: Dartmouth, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Michigan, and the University of Washington.
Elementa will shortly publish original research reporting on new knowledge of the Earth’s physical, chemical, and biological systems; interactions between human and natural systems; and steps that can be taken to mitigate and adapt to global change.

Elementa is now accepting submissions through its online peer-review system ( Benefits of publishing with Elementa include rapid, rigorous peer-review; a detailed manuscript tracking system for authors; and publications of articles through a variety of human- and machine-intelligible formats: XML, HTML, JSON, PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket, Publication of first articles is planned for this summer.

Visit the site and follow us on Twitter for more details:, @elementascience.
If you would like to receive more information about Elementa please contact Clare Dean at
21 Dupont Circle, Suite 800, Washington D.C., 20036