IU South Bend Passes Open Access Policy

This blog post was authored by Craig Finlay, Scholarly Communications Librarian at IU South Bend.

We are very pleased to announce that on Friday, January 18, 2019, the Indiana University South Bend Faculty Senate unanimously approved an Open Access policy, making us the third IU campus to do so.  We join IU Bloomington and IUPUI in working to promote OA and in so doing increase the accessibility, reach and impact of our faculty scholarship.

The policy itself can be found here.  While based on the Harvard Policy, our policy differs in that it contains no language requiring faculty to provide copies of their research.  The small size of our campus and the comparatively smaller research output (Compared to large universities like IUB and IUPUI) affords us the luxury of relieving faculty of that requirement.  The Office of Research – Academic Affairs produces an annual publication list gleaned from the faculty annual reports (now Digital Measures). The number of publications makes it feasible for us to grab them ourselves and check for copyright permissibility.  This could be an important point to remember for smaller universities looking to pass an OA policy.  Often faculty objections to a policy stem from resentment over requirements of self-deposit.

Over the past few years I pounded the pavement visiting department meetings and giving presentations aimed at highlighting traffic to publications already placed into our IU ScholarWorks community. I generally did not spend much time talking about the altruistic aspects of OA, having found that this approach is greeted more with polite affirmation than anything else.  More effective is convincing faculty that OA publishing will drive attention and citations to their publications.

This strategy was strongly influenced by a pair of talks by Jere Odell, Scholarly Communication Librarian at IUPUI, at the Michiana Scholarly Communication Librarianship Conference at IU South Bend in 2014 and 2016. Jere was also a continual source of advice and wisdom in my journey, the value of which I cannot overstate.

While it may seem tempting to focus heavily on the potential of OA to reach underserved communities, the fact is self-interest seems to grab people’s attention much more readily. Given limited presentation times at departmental meetings, time is of the essence.  After some time demonstrating usage statistics and talking about the potential citation boost, I started pitching the OA policy itself.

First, I approached faculty allies who had already taken initiative to contact me regarding depositing their scholarship, hoping to get them to help spread the message.  I also sought and received endorsements from the Office of Research, the Library Affairs Committee and the head of the newly-established Center for Excellence in Research and Scholarship (CERES). I repeatedly emphasized the unique aspect of our proposed policy, that it would require no extra work on the part of faculty.  It was the LAC that brought the policy before the senate, which, being from a committee, meant the policy was already seconded when it was announced.

Ultimately, the policy passed unanimously.  Given seven minutes to explain the policy to the senate, I discussed the traffic to existing publications in the IR and the fact that our policy asked nothing of faculty save consent of deposit. I owe a great debt to the colleagues, campus departments and faculty allies who aided in getting our policy passed.  If I had to give one bit of advice to a librarian at a small campus such as IU South Bend trying pass a policy while balancing myriad other job responsibilities it would be to identify and cultivate such sources of support and advice.  There’s no point in trying to do it alone.

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