A Faculty Senate forum was held on Wednesday, Feb. 17 in the Alumni House to allow faculty to be informed on and discuss UNC-Greensboro’s proposed Open Access Policy.
The forum included a presentation and a panel discussion with four faculty contributors to provide additional context and answer questions.
The meeting was commenced by Dr. Anne Wallace, Chair of Faculty Senate and of the General Faculty. Beth Bernhardt, Assistant Dean for Collection Management and Scholarly Communications, led the presentation and discussion. According to her, the University Public Access Policy is intended to “collect, preserve, and share UNCG scholarship”.
It also aims to raise public access awareness on campus, and help authors retain their rights to their scholarships. This policy will also help UNCG comply with federal mandates for public access to publically-funded research.
UNCG’s policy is relatively new, having been enacted in April of last year. Regardless, it has been well-received by faculty, being unanimously approved by panel discussion.
Speaking on Chapel Hill’s similar policy, Anne Gilliand said “Students and faculty were hungry for resources.”
With the policy, faculty can electronically share documents or a copy of a past publication post-annual review. The policy will address scholarly articles only.
If the policy is approved, Public Access will be conducted through North Carolina Digital Online Collection of Knowledge and Scholarship (NC DOCKS), an access repository of UNCG scholars (accessible at libres.uncg.edu/ir/). It is a stable, long-term storage site and profile for scholarship-sharing.
“Why would we want [an article] on a shelf and not be used?” asked panelist Terri Shelton.
Currently over 60 percent of UNCG faculty have a profile with at least one article or other document attached. Through this users can gauge exposure of their work through NC DOCKS’s statistics, recording hits and showing usage of the work.
The database is capable of handling text-based documents, as well as imaged-based formats and multimedia.
“Why use NC DOCKS?” Bernhardt asked.
She argues in favor of the database because “it’s non-commercial.”
This means that the site makes no money off their users. It allows non-academics to access researchers more easily, and has been designed to be user friendly.
“We’re not trying to make your life harder,” Bernhardt said.
NC DOCKS also assists faculty members with research data, offering planning resources and data hosting.
If faculty members do not wish to use NC DOCKS, then they are able to opt out. Alternately, a paper uploaded can have an embargo – restricting access – placed upon it until the embargo date has expired.
Panelist Terri Shelton emphasized that publishing and NC DOCKS are not mutually-exclusive, and it does not act as an exclusive license.
Concerns were raised during the meeting about how the Public Access Policy will affect smaller publishers who print these articles. The policy was designed with this concern in mind. It contains allowances for certain embargos that will leave publishers without negative affect.
This Public Access Policy is part of a larger and growing worldwide movement, according to Bernhardt, with similar policies becoming increasingly common.
Harvard, UNC Chapel Hill and the University of California System are among those supporting Public Access.
“In some ways it’s the way of the future,” Gilliand said.
NC DOCKS is one of several Open Access Initiatives on campus. The University Libraries offers an Open Access Publishing fund, which helps to defray author publishing fees and encourage the publication of faculty and graduate student scholarship in Open Access journals.
The Libraries also support the Open Educational Resources movement. This helps faculty identify high-quality and low-cost, or freely-available, classroom resources and can be used as alternatives to expensive textbooks.
Additionally, the Libraries support Open Journal Systems, a scholarly publishing platform designed to help authors publish in Open Access journals. Lastly, the Libraries assist scholars with data-researching needs, including data set hosting and data management creation plans that some funding agencies require.
The policy is part of UNCG’s commitment to “disseminating its research and scholarship as widely as possible,” according to the Draft of the Resolution on Endorsing a University Public Access Policy.
The next Faculty Senate meeting is on March 2 at 3 p.m. in the Virginia Dare Room, Alumni House. Meetings are open to all who wish to attend.