MLA embraces open access

| June 12, 2012

Those of you interested in the ongoing push for Open Access among scholars and librarians (see Leanora Lange’s post on open access at Harvard) may be excited to know that the MLA recently announced their intention to support open access.  From their own website:

The journals of the Modern Language Association, including PMLA, Profession, and the ADE and ADFL bulletins, have adopted new open-access-friendly author agreements, which will go into use with their next full issues. The revised agreements leave copyright with the authors and explicitly permit authors to deposit in open-access repositories and post on personal or departmental Web sites the versions of their manuscripts accepted for publication.

This is excellent news for authors writing for MLA journals, but also for scholars hoping to access these articles. As Scott Jaschik succinctly states on Inside Higher Ed,

The open access movement has in some ways made the most headway in the sciences, where requirements from federal agencies and other funders have many times forced journals to permit authors to post their papers in repositories that have no paywall. Humanities journals, in contrast, publish relatively little work that is the direct result of grants, so these publications (and the disciplinary groups that run them) have been able to consider these issues without government pressure.

As a leading figure in humanities publications, it’s possible that this step by the MLA may encourage other humanities journals to offer similar agreements to their authors as well, paving the way for future open access repositories to flourish.

What about open access here at Teachers College?

Teachers College has an online digital repository called Pocket Knowledge, where any student or professor at TC can freely deposit and access works (this is also a digital repository of rare materials from the archive); however, Pocket Knowledge is not truly open access in that it is not freely accessible to the public.  Columbia University’s digital repository is called Academic Commons, where students, staff, and professors can deposit works; once deposited, those materials are freely available to the public. However, note that scholars cannot deposit their works into these (or any) digital repositories if they do not retain the copyright in their published article, which, traditionally, most journals–especially in the humanities–do not grant. It is a major forward step towards facilitating open access that the MLA is now granting their authors the right to republish or deposit their work  in their contracts with their authors.