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Library faculties embrace open-access publishing

By Karen Shugart

The faculties of ECU’s Academic Library Services and Laupus Health Sciences have resolved to make their published research available for free when possible, a move that puts them among a growing number of academic units and colleges.

“The benefit to academic and the wider public is certainly significant,” said Joseph Thomas, head of collection development for Academic Library Services. “University authors publish precisely in order to share their research, and open-access publishing helps them reach the widest audience.”

The Academic Library Services and Laupus Health Sciences resolution, which was passed March 4, applies to scholarly works authored or co-authored while faculty are employed at either of the libraries, beginning with works published or submitted for publication after March 15.

Faculty members retain discretion to publish where they deem necessary. If they are unable to find a publisher who will let their work be available for free, faculty members are encouraged to negotiate with their publisher to allow submission to The ScholarShip, a digital archive for ECU’s scholarly output.

Free distribution of peer-reviewed journal literature offers the chance to “lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and question for knowledge,” according the Budapest Open Access Initiative, a 2001 proponent of the concept.

Some studies indicate that open-access articles have greater impact than scholarly publications that aren’t freely available, Thomas said. Faculty, students and the general public already have free online access to research funded by the National Institutes of Health, and federal legislation re-introduced April 16 would require more government agencies to give free access to published research they fund.

University faculties that have adopted similar resolutions include Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oberlin College, University of Kansas, University of Virginia and most recently, Duke University.

Thomas knew of no other units on campus that have taken this step. Neither have other colleges in the UNC system, he said, though seven other schools have repositories of faculty-authored works.

They include Appalachian State University, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina State University, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, UNC Pembroke, and UNC Wilmington.

Also, he said, N.C. State’s Digital Publishing Center offers advice on information including copyright management and publishing agreements.
Thomas said the resolution’s adoption was triggered by a similar proposal passed by librarians at the University of North Colorado.

ECU has offered access to open access journals through the library catalog and E-Journal Portal since at least 2006, he said. One successful peer-reviewed open access journal is edited and published right here at ECU: the Journal of Curriculum and Instruction.

JOCI in February received accolades from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. It uses the Open Journal Systems software, which is administered by Academic Outreach and is now in use by half a dozen ECU journals, Thomas said. 
 
For more information, contact Thomas at thomasw@ecu.edu or Beth Ketterman of Laupus Library at kettermane@ecu.edu.

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This story appeared originally in the April 30, 2010 issue of Pieces of Eight. An archived version of that issue is available at http://www.ecu.edu/news/cs-admin/poe/2010/410/April-2010-Archives.cfm.