A while back I posted a rant about doing a lit search and coming across an EBSCO page that failed to explicitly point to a journal’s wide open CC license. I was a bit uncomfortable doing so since I felt like maybe I was missing a piece of the copyright/open access puzzle, but it generated a favourable action-oriented response from EBSCO and a few librarians chimed in as well encouraging me that I wasn’t completely crazy with my expectations.
To recap – in case you don’t want to click on the link above – EBSCO’s initial response to my rant was this:
Per your request, I have submitted an Enhancement Request with our Content Team to have the CC License display within the Copyright information.
About a week ago, I received this response from EBSCO:
I hope you are having a lovely day.
In regards to your inquiry to have the Copyright Information display the Creative Commons License.
EBSCO holds a license for the content with the publisher, Governors of Athabasca University. We followed the publisher’s lead as to how they wanted to handle the copyright statement. Any change would have to be requested by the publisher.
Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
My first reaction to this was “Huh??…”. But I let it go, because how am I to know the politics that may have lead the Governors of Athabasca to basically lock down their open journal by EBSCO proxy if that is indeed the case.
But here I am again, searching around on Google Scholar and clicking on this link that that takes me to an EBSCO page that denies me entry to yet another IRRODL article. There is no way to get to the article that I should have access to as a CC BY licensed journal. In fact clicking on the Login link does nothing to indicate that I should even have access unless I have the privilege of belonging to an institution that subscribes to this esteemed service.
I get that EBSCO probably lawyered up and is doing what was agreed to by the parties involved. I get that Athabasca no doubt agreed to whatever terms and legalese within a CC BY license. But I’m disappointed as a user and academic that the spirit of CC BY and open access journals isn’t being respected and I think that matters.
Late in the evening on Saturday I was searching around in the EBSCO databases and came across this page and subsequently chirped about it on Twitter. In that cursory way that I sometimes throw things out on Twitter at 10pm I didn’t really expect an audience for it or to have to do any explaining. It was favourited by somebody at Proquest, and this morning I received a very cordial email from a Senior Technical Support Representative at EBSCO, asking if I could point him to the example in question. At this point I felt like I owed him an explanation as to why the presentation of the page rubbed me the wrong way.
For starters, let me explain that I’m pretty passionate about the importance of open access scholarly publishing. I committed to publishing in only open journals in 2008 which I recall resulted in a good discussion with the co-authors of this article. I sort of lost that debate obviously, but I continue to host a draft on this site. In 2008 I also I submitted my dissertation to the UBC Grad Studies with a CC license before it was even an option. And when we began the Digital Learners in Higher Education research project in 2008 we committed as team to make the research artefacts open and to only publish in open journals.
There are still relatively few open journals in distance education and educational technology, and as many of us know, the open access movement feels increasingly co-opted for the wrong reasons. I felt the EBSCO page was disingenuous to how I’ve perceived IRRODL as an open access, CC licensed journal with a large global audience. Specifically, I suspect that the copyright statement is confusing to the many users who are familiar with what open access or CC licensing actually means. I’m aware that in 2010 there were changes to the CC licensing at IRRODL. Yet, if a journal has a declared CC license, I think that that should appear on this particular EBSCO page so it can be referenced and recognized for what it is, rather than adopt the legalese of the indexer. As somebody who has published in IRRODL because of its unambiguous open access commitment, I shouldn’t have to be a librarian to understand the nuances of EBSCO’s copyright and user information blurb.
Happily, EBSCO was proactive, opened a ticket, and let me know that:
“Per your request, I have submitted an Enhancement Request with our Content Team to have the CC License display within the Copyright information.”
I think this is progress.