Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Scholarly Communication for the Modern Language Association, discusses the evolving relationship of scholarly societies, their publications and open access, in her article "Openness, Value, and Scholarly Societies: The Modern Language Association Model" in the current issue of College & Research Library News.
. . . .So if the value of a society to its membership no longer lies in access to its otherwise revenue-producing publications—if, in fact, many members want scholarship to be distributed in a way that will greatly reduce if not eliminate its ability to produce revenue—and if the other crucial work of the society supported by that revenue is often too invisible to constitute a new locus of value that will keep scholars renewing their memberships year after year, where might a new value proposition lie for scholarly societies?
. . . . MLA has chosen two first steps toward ensuring public access to the work published by the organization. First, we have recently revised all of our author agreements to make them gold open access friendly, and, second, we are developing a platform through which members can share their work as openly as they might like, allowing that work to reach not only their colleagues but also interested members of the public.
Our revised author agreements no longer require scholars to sign over copyright to the association; copyright instead remains with the author, who grants the association a license to publish their work (as well as to perform a range of related tasks with it). This license is exclusive for one year after the date of publication, after which period the author is free to republish or distribute the work in any form or manner desired. Moreover, these contracts explicitly grant authors the right to post a draft version of their work on a personal or departmental Web site prior to publication, and to post their final manuscript on such a Web site, or to deposit it in an institutional repository immediately upon acceptance. In this way, we hope to allow our journals to remain vital, scrupulously reviewed and carefully edited publications, while simultaneously helping our authors get their work into the broadest possible circulation. . . .