The Serials Librarian, T&F, and Open Access

Before I launch into the meat of this post, I would like to confirm a few things.

Yes, I am currently the co-editor-in-chief of the journal The Serials Librarian.

Yes, this journal is published by Taylor and Francis and is part of the same group of journals in Library & Information Science as the title Journal of Library Administration which has been mentioned in the blogosphere lately.

Yes, Taylor and Francis are a Green OA publisher and their LIS titles have benefitted since 1 November 2011 from a clause allowing the author to make either their original manuscript or the accepted version of their manuscript available in institutional repositories and similar services.

The relevant bit from the Taylor & Francis Author Services LIS Rights:

Copyright is retained by the author, who grants a license to Taylor & Francis to publish the version of Scholarly Record, but who remains copyright holder and is free to post versions of the Article – Author’s Original Manuscript (preprint) and Author’s Accepted Manuscript (postprint) – at any time, without embargo, with a link to the Version of Scholarly Record.”

Please note that the wording states ‘at any time’.  Authors do not have to wait for the Version of Scholarly Record (i.e. the final typeset page with all the links and what we used to call ‘bells and whistles’) to appear – simply to add a link to it when it does appear.

Taylor and Francis have since launched an optional Gold OA model which seems to have caused all the fuss, assuming that the Green route pilot has been dropped in favour of only allowing authors permission to share their articles if they pay the publisher for the privilege.  In fact the Gold OA option, clocking in at around $3,000 per article, is set up to allow the Version of Scholarly Record to be made available on the informa website for free.

The mass resignation of the editor-in-chief and the editorial board of Journal of Library Administration so early in its tenure is a matter for great regret, I feel, but the blog and listserv posts on the topic which do not present the whole picture, are potentially more damaging.  We have had curt emails from prospective authors who ‘do not wish to post in a closed access journal’ without enquiring further.

I fully support Open Access initatives of whatever form, Green, Gold, or Hybrid.  OA is still a relatively new way of publishing and the recent threatened lawsuits regarding possible ‘predatory’ publishers, ie. those which simply exist to make money and produce any content offered, means the area remains an emotive subject for some.

However, attacking commercial publishers who need to make their money somewhere, and which do provide quality content which has been assessed, peer reviewed, and copy edited, purely because their content is not ‘free’ seems counter-productive.  I do understand all the arguments around the area of scholarly communication and have previously commented on the RCUK issues around OA and Open Access and the Big Deals.

Obviously, as an editor on a journal in the LIS programme I am concerned that misinformation and the actions of the editor and board of JLA might cause us some damage – I hope that this blog post has done something to redress the balance.

I stress that this post is my personal view, and does not necessarily represent that of my co-editor, or of NASIG, who are associated with The Serials Librarian.  Nor has this post been vetted by my colleagues at Taylor & Francis, with this being my personal blog.


4 responses to this post.

  1. […] What a curious thing passed by this morning. […]


  2. Thank you for clarifying this and highlighting the nuances involved with OA. I’ve published in both “Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve” and “Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship”. As Routledge journals, I’ve found the same green OA clauses and have been able to mount my post-prints immediately after publication with Taylor & Francis. I think too many people are jumping to conclusions, including possibly the editors of the Journal of Library Administration.


  3. I think you have a point, stressing the fact that Taylor & Francis has a green road policy for LIS-journals withouth an embargo, which is better than the usual TF self-archiving policy. However it’s just an option and means nothing if authors don’t make use of it. In E-LIS for example I can only find seven articles from the Serials Librarian:

    You say “attacking commercial publishers who need to make their money somewhere” seems counter-productive?

    Well, everyone who is really serious about OA knows, that OA means free to read, but not free to produce. But the big question is how much does it cost to publish?

    There are of course different views about that (see:, but I wonder do you as co-editor-in-chief, really believe to publish an article in the Serials Librarian should cost $3,000? Where do you see so much costs involved in the production? Have you ever asked how TF came to this number?

    And the hell no, publishers should not make their money just somewhere. They should make it by selling good services with a reasonable margin.


    • Hi Christian – I do believe that those who publish in LIS journals from T&F are not always aware of the Green option, but since we took over we make sure they are aware of it. There are of course other repositories including institutional ones than E-LIS. But point taken. T&F journals are generally seen as ‘closed access’ and that is unfortunate.

      On the Gold option, no, honestly, I am not that comfortable with a charge as high as $3k, but then some other publishers charge as much. I think Gold OA is so much in its infancy that publishers may still be frightened a bit of losing subscription revenue. I know how many subscribers SL has and I’m guessing the other LIS journals are the same. We don’t have a huge subscriber list. I wish we did. But it has gone up. Do I expect the Gold OA option to be taken up by most of our authors? No – but we will make sure they know it is an option, while making them aware of the current position re Green OA.

      I also agree that publishers generally need to up their game and ensure their product is a quality one. Just making money for a product that is worthless is helping no one – but I don’t think this particular publisher falls into that category.


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