New to the SCN: Open Access Publishing Biases

This is the latest post in a series announcing resources created for the Scholarly Communication Notebook, or SCN. The SCN is a hub of open teaching and learning content on scholcomm topics that is both a complement to an open book-level introduction to scholarly communication librarianship and a disciplinary and course community for inclusively sharing models and practices. IMLS funded the SCN in 2019, permitting us to pay creators for their labor while building a solid initial collection. These works are the result of one of three calls for proposals (our first CFP was issued in fall 2020; the second in late spring ‘21, and the third in late fall 2021).

Today we’re excited to share “Open Access Publishing Biases” (available through Digital Commons ). This work was created by Chelsee Dickson and Christina Holm to present an overview of the OA landscape and provide learners with tools to develop their own inquiries into the inequities present within the OA publishing industry. Here they are to introduce Open Access Publishing Biases:

The open access publishing landscape is complex. There are many different levels of “open” (often denoted by colors), Article Processing Charges (APCs) vary in cost by journal, and impact factors are sometimes skewed. Added to this complexity is the bias found within the publishing cycle. Today’s academics, authors, and researchers must look at open access through a lens not clouded by the desire for prestige but clearly see the benefits of and biases within the Open Access Movement. My coauthor Christina Holm and I, Chelsee Dickson, endeavored to highlight these issues in our OER.

We created this resource based on past experiences with open access publishing, the peer review process, and subvention fund management. During the publishing and peer review process, we discovered certain biases that lead to inequity. And as the manager of my institution’s subvention fund, which provides financial support for faculty open access publications, I recognized a lack of diversity and wanted to ensure I avoided discrimination and exclusivity. This led Christina and I to brainstorm exactly how we could make a difference within the field of scholarly communications and open access.
Our open resource, aptly titled Open Access Publishing Biases OER, contains a curriculum for instructors and assignments for students. These objects can be easily tailored to fit the needs of any library and information studies (LIS) course but can also be used as-is within a course module on scholarly communication. We have created: learning objectives; a literature review which synthesizes biases found within open access publishing; a PowerPoint presentation to accompany the literature review; discussion questions for further thought and reflection; an open access publishing landscape map activity; a statement of significance activity; and a cumulative final project. Also included are select readings for students with an interest in furthering their knowledge of these concepts.

Each assignment builds upon the students’ previous work, resulting in a detailed final project with elements of each assignment woven throughout. This resource was designed to help students identify inequities within open access publishing and analyze those inequities knowing that, as society evolves, so too will our thoughts on biases. We crafted this resource with flexibility in mind, allowing it to evolve as new diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues arise, while giving students and instructors the tools to analyze and (eventually) mitigate their own bias. We hope our audience finds this OER engaging and thought-provoking.

About the Authors

Chelsee Dickson is the KSU Library System’s Scholarly Communications Librarian. Chelsee holds an MLIS and a second MS in Information Technology, and she is passionate about open access, open educational resources, copyright, and technology in libraries. She supports faculty and students in their publishing endeavors, and she is interested in the intersection of diversity, equity, and inclusion as they relate to open access and intellectual freedom. Contact her at

Christina Holm is the KSU Library System’s Instruction Coordinator and a Librarian Associate Professor. Christina holds an MLIS and is passionate about information literacy and ethics in higher education. With 9 years of professional experience in a public services department, Christina has led many professional development events and written several contributions to the profession. Christina’ areas of research include academic librarian burnout, bias in academia, and library service design. Contact her at