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Scholarly Communication

View from a GA, Part 2

I just wanted to provide everyone with several updates about my ongoing work at IU ScholarWorks. October has been an exciting month.  One of the interesting events that happened was Open Access Week, in which librarians reached out to the general academic community to preach the merits of open access. Jen and Naz gave a talk called “Making Your Research Open Access”, directed at researchers interested in learning more about Open Access and the Institutional Repository.  Judging by the turnout, it was a success by any measure.

I was also given an opportunity to give a workshop on the NIH Public Access Policy. The NIH’s policy ensures that the public has open access to the published results of research funded by NIH award grants. While there have been some open access victories in other areas, I considered the NIH’s Public Access Policy to be on the better conceived and executed large open access projects. Not only has it provided millions of scientific work to the public for free, but it has also achieved a sufficient compromise with authors and publishers. With authors, the mandate comes as part of the grant award funding- if the research is “directly” funded by the grant, the author must make the work available to the public within 12 months of publication. Failure to do so will lead to both the PI and Insitutions having problem gaining NIH funding in the future. Perhaps more importantly then just creating abstract mandates for public access (like the NSF currently does), the NIH created a system that is remarkably easy to navigate, find information and submit document in one centralized database.

While general IR submission rates are relatively low, NIH compliance is roughly around 75% according to some studies of the issue, both because of ease of use and incentives created by the need for future funding. Just as importantly, the policy does make compromises not to upset the apple-cart of the current scholarly publishing model. The author still submits to the traditional academic journals in the usual fashion and is given a 12 month buffer between the time of publication and the time in which the article must be posted in pub med central. As it turns out, publishers are still doing just fine under this arrangement, as Elsevier continues to post a decent profit margin. Many journals’ voluntary compliance and submission (via Method A) has made the process extremely easy on authors. Granted, even this generous compromise in the favor of publisher is still being disputed by some large publishers, as clearly displayed by bills like “The Research Works Act” (H.R. 3699) that have attempted (and failed so far) to revoke the public access requirement.

Anyway, librarians should think about NIH Public Access requirement both as a model (for other funding agencies) and in the context of their own attempts to promulgate open access. Thinking about what the NSF might do (as of 2010 they promulgated a data sharing policy, intended to require data management plans as part of all proposals responding to NSF grant funding solicitations) will also be important as researchers look to libraries for assistance in archive large datasets online. I tend to think that such mandate either at funding levels or institutional levels might be a large boon for institutional repositories.

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