Sustainable scholarship

How we act, and the choices we make, can move scholarly publishing in a more sustainable, open and equitable direction. 

OPEN-ACCESS by EFF Photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0 DEED

Take action

The USask Library is committed to sustainably supporting the needs of our scholarly community. Our collections decisions are driven by these values and the need to be fiscally responsible. Learn more about how we use data to inform collections decisions. 

As a member of the scholarly community, you also have significant power to influence positive change in the scholarly publishing system. The system relies on your research, writing, editorial and reviewer labour. Within our academic institutions, faculty are responsible for tenure and promotion criteria that reinforce the power of the publishing system.


Publish in ethical open access outlets
As support for open access has grown, publishers have co-opted the movement by shifting from subscription models to charging huge author fees to publish your work. These fees are often higher than the cost of publishing and exclude many authors. You can publish in journals with no (or low) author fees. Look for ethical OA journals in the quality-controlled Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). No option in your discipline? Start the conversation with your scholarly society to lead this change.
Make all your articles openly available
Even when you publish in a subscription journal, you can almost always share an OA version of your article. Depositing your work in an institutional repository (like HARVEST or a disciplinary repository) is legal and free. When you share an OA version, your work is accessible to all readers, giving it greater impact.
Negotiate to retain your copyright
You automatically hold copyright to any work you create. Publishers do not need wholesale transfer of copyright to publish your work. Learn how to negotiate to retain your rights to your work on our Author Rights guide. Once you have retained your copyright, you can apply a Creative Commons license to your work to make it clear how readers can use your work.

Peer reviewers and editors

Contribute your labour exclusively to ethical open access outlets
Refuse to provide free editorial or peer reviewer labour to publishers with unsustainable profit-driven business models – and explain to them why you are doing so. Commercial publishers are making record profits by charging university libraries for access to content you have reviewed and edited for free. Supporting only open access publications encourages commercial publishers to adopt more sustainable, ethical and equitable practices.
Declare independence!
Are you an editor or serve on the editorial board of a subscription or profit-driven open access (or hybrid) journal that charges authors unreasonable fees? Follow the lead of principled editors who have declared independence and started new, open access journals with ethical and equitable business models. The Open Access Directory (OAD) maintains a list of journals that have declared independence.

Faculty policymakers

Reform tenure and promotion standards
Reliance on prestige journals and impact factors as proxies for quality research is a major reason the move to a more sustainable publishing system has been so slow. You have a voice and vote in the creation of tenure and promotion standards and in the assessment of candidates. Raise this issue at your next collegial meeting. There are more responsible metrics and methods for evaluation of research. See the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment for examples. 
Implement a rights retention open access policy
Policies that grant authors the power to retain copyright and share their work (even when they publish in conventional, paywalled journals) can be adopted at the university level or by individual schools or colleges. See Harvard’s comprehensive guide to implementing such a policy.


Learn how to legally access paywalled research
Access journals and other e-resources through the library website or by using the Proxy Bookmarklet. If we don't subscribe, use browser extensions like Unpaywall to find a legal open access copy or request it through Interlibrary Loan (ILL) – this service is free to the USask community.


Assign open textbooks and open educational resources (OERs)
The textbook publishing industry has excessive profits and questionable business practices. Adopt, adapt or create your own open textbooks or OERs to save your students money. Your liaison librarian can help locate options, and USask offers funding to support instructors to adapt or create your own.