Open Doors and Advancing Knowledge: Policies and Advantages Part II

July 7, 2015

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.


Work Cited

Open Doors and Advancing Knowledge: Policies and Advantages

June 26, 2015

Submitted by Nicolaus Stengl

For the past year, I have been fascinated by the idea of Open Access and what it could mean to professors, students, lifelong learners, and educational institutions. The question that many readers may ask is “What is open access (also known as OA)?” Open Access, defined by the Budapest OA initiative, means “free arability on the public domain, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles…without financial, legal, or technological barriers other than the inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself” (Budapest OA). My belief is that Centre College could and should have its own open-access by way of a repository and a policy that expects faulty members and encourages students to deposit their research and scholarly articles in a digital repository.

Centre College’s motto is “Doctrina Lux Mentis,” meaning “Learning is the Light of the Mind.” My interpretation of this is that by learning one enlightens oneself, but this could also mean that teaching others enlightens others and oneself. Learning brings a certain tranquility and satisfaction that is achieved through an arduous and academic setting. The latter does not need to be the case due to the digital world we live in. Today, there are many sites such as, Coursea, Edx, and MIT OCW, which allow for lifelong learners to continue to learn from their home as individuals or as a group by way of forums on these sites. The issue I see for lifelong learners or current students is the limited digital literature available, namely scholarly articles, but this can be amended by OA.

As a student worker at Centre College’s library, I have noticed that many students have not been able to get an article that they wanted or even needed instantaneously because they could not get it online through a database and/or Centre College’s library did not carry the journal in which the article was published. If Centre could start a repository then it would be possible to gain awareness for other small liberal arts colleges that spend the same amount of monetary funds on databases and scholarly journals. Ivy league schools, UC schools, and MIT have already begun to make it mandatory for faculty to deposit their papers and they have found it to be popular with DASH (Harvard’s OA digital repository) having over five million downloads since its creation in 2009. Centre College has always been a leading representative of small liberal arts colleges and could follow in Harvard’s footsteps by creating a digital repository and a policy that granted Centre non-exclusive rights to future research articles by its faculty.

Centre College would have three options when it comes to policies of OA. Peter Suber gives his recommendations with the policy stated above, where the policy grants the academic institution non-exclusive rights to faculties’ work. There is a policy that seeks no right whatsoever, but only requires that faculty deposit their work in the digital repository upon publishing their paper; or a policy that does not require a deposit but merely encourages it. I believe that the first two are more likely to work for the fact that encouraging might not be enough for a professor who feels constrained with other obligations. The policy that does not grant non-exclusive rights would most likely be the most favored among those new to OA and make the transition easier after a few years. Once all faculty have signed the policy, by default all faculty will deposit papers; if and only if they have a waiver signed, the college will not publish the paper through the repository but rather will keep it in the ‘dark.’

Let us now look at the benefits of Open Access for Centre College as an educational institution. Open Access would contribute to Centre’s mission to advance knowledge and liberal arts inside and outside the college as professors from all divisions would be sharing their papers, thus allowing students and other faculty to have an opportunity to see work from their professors and colleagues in all three divisions. By making this cross over all divisions, Centre would be democratizing all divisions and departments regardless of the size or its budget. For example, the X department may be able to get more access to journal articles than P department, but with open access all departments would have equal footing because all articles will be open to the students and faculty. The pervious argument is looking ahead, but this argument could be seen in the early stages of Centre College’s Open Access policy as it draws in additional papers and gathers more attention from students, staff, and other like-minded colleges. The attention from such an initiative would increase Centre’s competitiveness as a leading liberal arts college, not only in the south, but nationally. By creating a more competitive academic institution, Centre would enrich the quality of education and gather more competitive students who feel that an opportunity to do research is an important component of their college decision. Open Access would allow Centre to be more capable of publishing student research and thus student researchers will gather more attention for their work as undergraduates, allowing Graduate and Professional Schools to more readily discover Centre College students’ work, thus increasing students’ chances to be admitted to top tier schools that expect undergraduate research.

Part two of this blog post will discuss the steps that Centre will need to take to make a digital repository and issues that may come about.