Friday, November 20, 2009

Oberlin Joins the Ranks of Faculty Endorsed Open Access

Oberlin College Faculty Unanimously Endorses Open Access - Press Release 11/20/2009

OBERLIN, OHIO -- The Oberlin College General Faculty unanimously endorsed on November 18 a resolution to make their scholarly articles openly accessible on the Internet. As a result of the measure, the rich scholarly output of the Oberlin faculty will become available to a much broader national and international audience. The Oberlin resolution is similar to policies passed at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Kansas, and Trinity University.

“Through this resolution the Oberlin College faculty has expressed a principled commitment to disseminating their scholarship as widely as possible,” said Sebastiaan Faber, Professor of Hispanic Studies and Chair of the General Faculty Library Committee. “The current system of journal publishing, which largely relies on subscriptions and licenses, limits access to research information in significant ways, particularly for students and faculty at smaller and less wealthy institutions, as well as for the general public. Access is also seriously limited around the world in countries with fewer resources.”

Under the new policy, Oberlin faculty and professional staff will make their peer-reviewed, scholarly articles openly accessible in a digital archive managed by the Oberlin College Library as part of the OhioLINK Digital Resource Commons. Oberlin authors may opt out of the policy for a specific article if they are not in a position to sign journal publishing agreements that are compatible with the policy, or for other reasons. The resolution also creates an institutional license that gives Oberlin College the legal right to make the articles accessible on the Internet through the digital archive. The resolution further encourages, but does not require, authors to submit publications other than peer-reviewed articles in the same manner.

“Moving toward open access makes economic, philosophical, and ethical sense,” said Faber. “Open access democratizes knowledge and helps level the scholarly playing field.” Faber also notes that the policy will benefit Oberlin’s authors by increasing access to their work, making the high-quality scholarship of Oberlin faculty much more visible to external audiences. “We hope that other colleges and universities will follow suit by adopting similar policies,” he said.

“I’m delighted that Oberlin’s faculty and staff have made this important commitment to open access,” said Ray English, Azariah Smith Root Director of Libraries. “The movement for open access to scholarly research information is international in scope and growing rapidly as academic institutions, research-funding agencies, and policy makers see the benefits of unfettered access to scholarly research. The library looks forward to putting in place the support structures that are needed to carry out this important initiative.”

Adopted at the recommendation of the General Faculty Library Committee, the policy calls for the committee, in consultation with a faculty council, to establish procedures for carrying out the policy and to monitor its implementation. Policy implementation will be coordinated by a scholarly communications officer, a member of the library staff designated by the director of libraries. The text of the faculty resolution is available online at: http://tinyurl.com/ykyfz2j

The Oberlin College Student Senate recently endorsed the national “Student Statement on the Right to Research,” which expresses a similar commitment to making scholarly research information openly accessible.

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