UI approves open access

By Christin Watkins

By Christin Watkins

Staff writer

The Academic Senate voted in October to “open access” to the University’s research and allow members of the public to view faculty research articles.

The policy will only apply only to journal articles, which faculty members will send to Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS), said Dan Tracy, library and information science and research services librarian.

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

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.”

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 as interested members of the public who would’ve had to purchase a subscription to a journal now can view the articles for free.

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

Faculty may also feel a loss of control over the distribution of their articles, but they will be able to apply for a waiver to this policy in those instances.

“Some folks may worry that their work will not be in their control anymore,” McCollough said. “But, there actually is a mechanism built in to allow faculty researchers to retain control.”

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

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

It is essential to create a system to archive these articles, otherwise the University will have this policy without fully implementing it, Tracy said.

Policies such as this that are implemented in other universities are beneficial to the University by allowing faculty and students access to 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.