If you are an academic who has published in non-open access peer-review journals and haven’t yet taken any steps to make those articles available for free on the internet, you are doing it wrong. Doing so will ensure that more people read and cite your work. It will also make that work available to people who might otherwise not have access. And it is perfectly legal.*
There are a number of options for doing so. The best would be if your university or academic association has an official repository devoted to archiving such work. The AAA is currently working with SSRN to provide such a service, so you might try there. But you don’t need to be so official about it. You can simply host PDF files on your own website, or take advantage of any number of commercial services. I see a lot of people now using Academia.edu, Mendeley, or Zotero. Google Drive and Dropbox are also options, although you will want to have some kind of website where these links are advertised. Maybe Google Sites or WordPress? The list of options is endless, and it doesn’t really matter which you use – just get your stuff online!
In short, there is no excuse for not posting your own articles online, and if you see an academic who isn’t doing so you should take the time to let them know. A lot of scholars simply don’t know how to host their own website or use services like academia.edu — why not help them? Yes, in an ideal world journals would all be open access, but till that happens, there is no reason you can’t take steps to liberate your own work (and that of your colleagues).
- While almost all academic journals allow some form of self-archiving, they do differ in the details. Some allow a copy of the final article as it appears on the journal website, while others only allow you to post an uncorrected pre-print. To see what is allowed for particular journals, make use of the excellent RoMEO database. And don’t worry if you are confused. I encourage people to err on the side of openness. If you accidentally make a mistake you probably won’t have FBI agents banging down your doors. You are more likely to simply get an email asking you to remove the PDF from your website.