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Duke Joins Compact for Open Access to Scholarly Journals

The goal of the compact is to make it easier for researchers to publish their work in open-access scholarly journals, where it would be freely available online.

Duke University has joined a group of leading research institutions in signing a Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity (COPE). The goal of the compact is to make it easier for researchers to publish their work in open-access scholarly journals, where it would be freely available online.

As part of its commitment to COPE, Duke has created a special fund to help pay for article processing fees. Beginning this month, any Duke faculty member, post-doctoral researcher, graduate or professional student whose article is accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed, open-access journal can apply to have associated article processing fees reimbursed. The fund, which will be administered by the Libraries' Office of Scholarly Communications, is supported by the Duke University Libraries and the Office of the Provost.

Open-access journals make published research available for free to anyone who has access to the Internet, not just those who can afford a subscription or have access to an institutional subscription. Some open-access journals charge authors an article-processing fee for reviewing, editing, producing and distributing their work, because those costs are not otherwise recovered through subscriptions. COPE aims to encourage open access by supporting Duke authors who find the fees an obstacle to publication.

According to Provost Peter Lange, the aims of COPE are in keeping with Duke's continued emphasis on knowledge in the service of society. "By establishing this fund, we hope to support the university's commitment to promoting openness as an important value in scholarship," Lange said. "Increased open access means more opportunities for the research of our faculty and researchers to reach a wide audience and have a meaningful impact on the world."

Lange noted this is the latest in a series of efforts Duke has made to support open access as an institutional priority. In March, the university's Academic Council adopted an open access policy that applies to all Duke faculty.

Kevin L. Smith, scholarly communications officer with Duke University Libraries, said the goal of COPE is not to subsidize any particular publication or researcher, but rather "to remove potential barriers to publishing in open access venues. The idea is to prevent publication side-fees from inhibiting authors who see open access to their work as a benefit."

Moreover, Smith hopes the university's commitment will raise awareness of the growing body of open-access journals in all disciplines. With the advent of online publishing, open access has emerged as an alternative to the traditional fee- and subscription-based model of scholarly publishing.

"Several open-access journals, such as those in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) family, have quickly grown in influence and now demonstrate high impact factors in their fields," Smith noted.

Duke is one of 11 institutions so far to join the COPE initiative. Others include Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California at Berkeley, University of Ottawa, Columbia University, the University of Michigan, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Universitat de Barcelona.

The Duke University Libraries have created a website with more information about the COPE program, including the kinds of fees covered, eligibility requirements and instructions on how authors can apply for reimbursement. For more information, visit