CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University has officially adopted an open access policy requiring faculty members to make their scholarly articles available for free through the digital repository ScholarsArchive@OSU.
The policy applies to all future scholarly articles authored or co-authored by faculty members at OSU.
OSU is the first university, public or private, in the Pacific Northwest to adopt a university-wide open access policy, and one of the first land grant universities in the nation to do so. About 58 percent of eligible OSU-produced scholarly articles are already placed in ScholarsArchive@OSU, which is managed by OSU Libraries. Faculty members may obtain waivers from the policy at their discretion.
The OSU Faculty Senate unanimously approved the motion to establish the policy at its June 13 meeting. The policy was passed eight years after the faculty senate originally passed a resolution in support of open access. OSU also was one of the first American universities to sign onto the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, which is an international statement in support of open access.
OSU Provost and Vice President Sabah Randhawa has been a long-time supporter of open access on campus.
"As a land grant and a comprehensive research university with international impact, OSU is committed to disseminate its research and scholarship as widely as possible," Randhawa said. "The policy enables our faculty to make its creative work more accessible to a wider audience, including other scientists and educators, the public, and policy-makers - and in a more timely manner."
Michael Boock, head of the OSU Center for Digital Scholarship and Services, has been working for several years on issues related to open access at OSU. Along with Shan Sutton, associate university librarian for research and scholarly communication, Rich Carter in the Department of Chemistry, Faculty Senate library committee chair Marit Bovberg and a number of other OSU employees dedicated to open access, Boock has been pushing for the university to broadly embrace open access as a practice that seamlessly merges with the land grant mission.
"As a land grant institution, we feel it's important to have our work available to the citizens of the state, and the world," Boock said, "For much of our research at a land-, sea-, space-, and sun grant institution, the people who will ultimately read it and benefit from it are practitioners and decision-makers, or in some cases, school teachers and students."
Another reason for the push to adopt open access is the escalating cost of maintaining subscriptions to major academic journals. OSU and other colleges and universities are being priced out of purchasing annual subscriptions to important and prestigious journals because of budgetary concerns. That means access to the top work in many fields is hidden behind a paywall, Carter said, which is what originally propelled him to start advocating for open access at OSU.
"We know that open access policies are going to allow the public to have more ready access to research being done at OSU," Carter said. "Now a farmer in Oregon can look up a paper written by someone in the College of Agricultural Sciences. And someone starting up a science-focused company can look at work done in the College of Science."
Sutton said there are ongoing, discernible shifts in the world of scholarly journals as more publishers recognize that open access is here to stay. That means that most journals are allowing work to be made available via repositories like ScholarsArchive@OSU, although often that version may be embargoed for months or years after publication in the journal. More faculty members are also requesting an addendum to their publishing contracts with journals, allowing them to make their work available via open access.
But OSU supporters of open access also recognize that publication is essential to tenure. The fact that some noteworthy journals still staunchly refuse to allow open access to their articles is why waivers are in place for OSU faculty members.
"The intention of the policy is we want faculty to continue to publish wherever they want to do so," Carter said. The policy is not intended to prevent or discourage a faculty member from attempting publication in certain journals, he added, but to consider open access as another facet of being a land grant faculty member.
"This policy wasn't passed in a vacuum," Sutton said. "The universities that employ scholars and the granting agencies that fund much of their research are increasingly embracing open access as a common value to ensure research findings across disciplines are more widely accessible to the public and global research community. Academic libraries like OSU Libraries are key contributors to this movement in managing institutional repositories, advocating for publishers to adopt reasonable open access positions, and assisting faculty with issues such as publication agreement addenda."
"The timing of this policy's passage couldn't be better," said Faye Chadwell, Donald and Delpha Campbell University Librarian at OSU. "OSU's policy has situated us to respond proactively to mandates from funding agencies to make sponsored research available to the public. With this new policy and workflows in place, as well as a robust institutional repository, OSU can be part of a solution like SHARE (a potential network of digital repositories from around the country)."
OSU has a long history of supporting open access to faculty-produced research. OSU library faculty were the first university librarians in the nation to pass an open access policy for their own work, and several OSU colleges, including the College of Earth, Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences and College of Forestry, have open access policies as well. Since 2006, graduate students have been required to deposit a copy of their thesis or dissertation into the university's open-access repository, ScholarsArchive@OSU.
Webometrics recently ranked the ScholarsArchive@OSU digital repository seventh among U.S. single institution open access repositories. The Webometrics ranking is produced by the Cybermetrics Lab of the Spanish National Research Council located in Madrid and is based on indicators such as the number, visibility and impact of repository holdings.