Open Doors and Advancing Knowledge: Policies and Advantages Part II

In the previous blog I discussed what OA is and what advantages would be gained by Centre College if it decided to implement a digital repository. Again, I would like to discuss advantages of a digital repository. I first will show these advantages and then illustrate the justification of such a repository.

Centre College’s librarians would greatly benefit from an OA repository with being able to solve the price issue of journals and databases towards which the library spends a great deal of its annual funds. OA puts no economical limitation on the budget and actually opens more room for functional funding (furniture, computers, books, et cetera), for the library would not need to spend a great deal of its funds on journals and databases because an OA repository would have some of the articles needed.

Students would benefit from OA by way of having economic (class) equality when it comes to research papers or projects as the need for payments or permission from the library as the need would be eliminated. Consider that a student who comes from a wealthy background could buy an article that would not be accessible to her without payment; on the other hand, a less wealthy student would be unlikely to have the funds to buy an article, and so would not have equal footing. With OA, students would be able to use journal articles and other resources that may not be easily attainable under the traditional repository model without money and/or permission.

I would like to note that both of these advantages are not short-term, but rather long-term goals that Centre College could attain after implementing an OA repository and policy. A personal academic institution repository will not be enough for these advantages to take place. What will need to take place is for other schools to follow Centre College and for Centre College to continue on the OA track and make partnerships with other universities and/or colleges.

I would now like to discuss more in depth about the OA process and then illustrate how it could be used to Centre College and its faculty’s advantage. About 64% of journals are, in some form or other, open access (Sprac). Many of these OA journals eliminate marketing and rely solely on aid from search engines, databases, social networking, et cetera. This is what is actually costing money and so when Centre College subscribes to a database this is what they are paying for — mostly free OA journals. This is essential to understand for the fact that a great deal of funds are already going toward OA articles. Let me note that this 64% is mostly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) articles because these disciplines are far more accepting of the idea of OA, mainly because they want to get out scientific information as quickly as possible when it has “high importance” to society. This does not mean that Humanities is unimportant but rather they are not in competition with one another in the same way as the STEM disciplines are.

There are two main ways for open access that I would like to go into more depth with. Self-archiving, also known as the Green Route, is the act of depositing one’s article to the digital web or through an institution in order to make it open access. The other form is called gold open access, which is where the journal itself publishes the author’s work, which makes it publicly available without any fees. Both can be used and I believe Centre should use both in such a way that illustrates to other journals that institutional material should be free and open to any individual who wants to read or view said material.

According to many studies, OA articles have been shown to be cited more often than those which were fee based (Self-Selected or Mandated, Open Access Increases Citation Impact for Higher Quality Research). If Centre College followed through with a similar OA policy that larger schools have, the faculty would have a greater citation rate of their own individual work and they would be able to create unique and novel ideas from work that was not as easily attainable through the current fee-based system.

Though I have discussed the advantages, I would like to talk about an issue that may arise from Centre College implementing an OA policy. The major issue is the effort and dedication of time to the maintenance and preservation of the digital repository. If Centre College were going to implement an OA repository it would need to assure that the repository would be kept up to date and that citations would be set up so that the author is properly cited. The site, just as the digital archive, takes maintenance and time. One way that this could be done is the hiring of a full-time archivist, which can be seen as uneconomical acquisition. However, this is neither out of the realm of possibility nor uneconomical. In fact, by having a full-time archivist, Centre College would be able to implement an OA repository quicker and thus save money by canceling expensive journal subscriptions faster— long term. At this moment, we have one individual who works in Centre’s Archives, but one does not have enough time in a day to work on archives, repository, research assistance, et cetera and so there would need to be a sole job of archiving and digitizing material to keep up with not only the material in the archive, but the influx of digitize-able papers that would be downloaded by the faculty. With a full-time archivist, the library would be able to assist professors and students using the digital repository software, preserve the concrete archives, and keep up with maintenance to both of the sites and the long-term investment would actually create a more economical funding with class-equality for students.

If Centre could attain a full-time archivist and implement OA then it would achieve something that very few small colleges have done which is make their faculties’ papers open to the public, faculty, students, thus allowing Doctrina Lux Mentis for all individuals associated with Centre College and the surrounding community of Danville.


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