Open Access policy makes faculty research available

By Christin Watkins

The open access to research policy will only apply to journal articles published after the policy goes into effect. Faculty members will send to the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS), said Dan Tracy, library and information science and research services librarian.

The University publishes many research articles regarding new advancements and technologies that were previously unavailable to the public, and this policy will change that.

“I think one of the major effects will be broader availability and … visibility,” said John Wilkin, Dean of Libraries.

“It will have this cascading effect,” he said. “More people and more institutions (will) see the results of our work.”

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The Senate said opening access to University researchers’ work will create a discussion within the scholarly community.

According to the resolution, “The Faculty recognizes the benefits that accrue to them as individual scholars and to the scholarly enterprise from such wide dissemination, including greater recognition, more thorough review, consideration and critique, and a general increase in scientific, scholarly and critical knowledge.”

The policy won’t cause a dramatic change in research, but the change will allow the University to disseminate its research widely, said Aaron McCollough, head of the Scholarly Communications and Publishing Unit.

“The potential that this policy points to is greater demonstration of relevance,” he said. “Not just to the scholarly community, but to the wider national and international communities.”

Some publishers may have concerns that increased access to the research articles may negatively affect their business because interested members of the public who would’ve had to purchase a subscription to a journal can now view the articles for free.

There is no evidence that the policy could actually have a stimulating effect for publishers, Wilkin said.

Additionally, while some members of the faculty may feel a loss of control over the distribution of their articles, they can apply for a waiver to this policy in those instances, said McCollough.

“In our view it is especially important that faculty understand their intellectual property rights and how this policy is being implemented in a manner that will preserve those rights,” said the Senate Committee on General University Policy, according to the Senate Executive Committee’s recommendation to the Senate.

The enforcement of this policy will vary by article and publisher, and the process will require faculty support in order to be successful, said McCollough.

“It really lies with the faculty,” McCollough said. “This is a shared effort and it really will take faculty leadership.”

The University needs to create a system to archive these articles, otherwise a policy will exist that has not been fully implemented, Tracy said.

“Open access is really only made possible by the kind of technology we have now,” Tracy said.

Open access policies that are implemented in other universities are beneficial to the University by allowing faculty and students to read and learn from articles that otherwise would have been unavailable, he said.

Due to public and government funding, there is a sense of responsibility for public universities to make their research open to the public, Wilkin said.

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