Friday, April 16, 2010

open access and institutional repositories

I have been watching with interest as some liberal arts college libraries adopt faculty resolutions on open access and commit to archiving preprint versions of journal articles in their institutional repositories. Oberlin did this not too long ago, and Rollins passed a resolution in February.

I spoke with Jonathon Miller about the Rollins initiative at the NITLE Summit in New Orleans last month. He said that one key to their success was that a couple faculty champions backed the process. Faculty were motivated to support the proposal because of a.) an awareness of the financial problems related to the current systems of scholarly communication and b.) a motivation to more widely disseminate their work, especially to scholars without access to pricey journals.

While I am supportive of such resolutions, I do question whether associated mandates to deposit scholarship in an institutional repository make sense. As an alternative, I would propose adopting a faculty resolution in support of open access with a mandate (or at least a suggestion) that faculty deposit preprints of articles in an appropriate disciplinary repository like arXive. It seems to me that most faculty work fits better alongside other work in the same discipline rather than alongside mostly unrelated work done at the same institution.

Institutional repositories can be beneficial as a way of showcasing and tracking the scholarly output of an institution. But I think that newer platforms like Vivo and BibApp that support scholarly bibliographies but also aim to achieve broader things like scholarly reputation management and the fostering of interdisciplinary connections are a potentially more effective way of doing this.

1 comment:

Dorothea said...

It's not either/or, it's both/and. BibApp was actually developed partly as a feeder tool for its local IR.

Realize also that not all disciplines HAVE repositories.

One thing I have been pushing IR developers to build is a "type once/deposit anywhere" tool -- researcher deposits in IR, ticks ticky-boxes, deposit is replicated in arXiv or PMC or wherever else is appropriate.

arXiv already permits this, but part of the problem here is that other disciplinary repos are not currently playing ball. As institutional mandates proliferate, it's possible they'll come 'round.