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Friday, December 14, 2007

Educating faculty about OA

Michael H. Boock, A Faculty Led Response to the Crisis in Scholarly Communications, Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, Winter 2007.

Abstract:   Oregon State University’s recent response to the crisis in scholarly communications recognizes that teaching faculty must be involved in communicating an appropriate response to their faculty colleagues. As authors, editors, and peer reviewers, direct faculty action can encourage publishers to lower costs and can enhance the availability of research. The author discusses the work of a faculty-led task force that communicates information about unsustainable journal costs to faculty peers and the actions that can be taken to counteract this trend. In particular, the author discusses the use of academic unit publication reviews to effectively communicate journal cost variations to faculty.

From the body of the paper:

In this paper I discuss faculty involvement in the work of a Scholarly Communication Task Force [at Oregon State University, OSU]. The OSU Faculty Senate appointed prominent faculty from natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, the university research office and two library faculty members to the task force....

The task force found that the optimal method of communicating information about journal costs to faculty is through review and analysis of the journals in which faculty from different academic units publish....The task force member sends the title list of publications to the library. The library compiles a spreadsheet that includes journal title, cost for print subscription for an institution of OSU’s size, journal impact factor, and publisher information.... 

The task force member analyzes the data, identifies extremely high cost journals, and compares cost with impact factor....The task force member often writes accompanying text that summarizes the data or describes some relevant issues of scholarly communication for which the academic unit’s faculty should be aware. Often this includes a presentation of open access journal alternatives within their field of study and the increased citation of open access journal articles.

As an example, a faculty member on the task force [found that] cost per page for the commercial journals in which the faculty [in her unit] published was $0.98/page versus $0.39/page for scholarly society journals. Excluding Science and Nature, the average impact factor for the commercial journals was lower than scholarly society journals in which the college faculty published....

Appendices to the [task force] report included information about the OSU institutional repository and copies of the unit-specific publication reviews. A faculty senate resolution supporting open access written by the task force (OSU Faculty Senate Scholarly Communications Task Force, 2005) passed at the meeting....

It is too early to determine if the work of the task force has an impact on faculty publishing, reviewing, retaining copyright, archiving in institutional or subject repositories, or on promotion and tenure review policies. Anecdotal evidence supplied by task force and committee members suggests the unit publication reviews are effective in making faculty aware of the cost of the journals in which they publish. The discrepancies between the cost of journals published by commercial firms versus those published by non-profit publishers surprise faculty. Faculty have expressed an interest in submitting their research to the institutional repository as a result of reading the articles in OSU This Week. Librarians also report increased faculty interest in retaining copyright to their articles following the publication of the articles in OSU This Week

Because of their prominent roles in the publishing process as authors, reviewers and editors, faculty impact publishers in a way that libraries cannot: by refusing to publish in journals whose escalating costs impact their availability, by refusing to review for those journals and by taking action as editors and members of editorial boards. Real impacts to scholarly communication can only happen if faculty members refuse to participate in the continuing scholarly communication crisis, as authors, reviewers, editors, and promotion and tenure committee members.