Blog Post

Open Access for Scholarly Writing

Open Access for Scholarly Writing

Faculty consider policy to broaden use of research

By Geoffrey Mock 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Reblogged from


To promote broader use of research and further the university’s strategic priority of knowledge in the service of society, Duke is looking to create an open access digital archive of faculty members’ scholarly articles.

There’s wide support on campus for the idea, but as the Academic Council prepares a vote this spring on the proposed open access policy, faculty and administrators say the key is developing the services and technology to implement it in a way that is convenient, effective and inexpensive.

“Currently, much of the knowledge produced by Duke faculty is only available to a limited audience who have access to research library collections,” said Paolo Mangiafico, director of digital information strategy for Duke.  “By providing open access to Duke scholarship, we can help increase the reach and impact of the work being done at Duke.”

The proposed policy, which was introduced to the Academic Council Feb. 25, has three main provisions:

* Duke is granted a limited license to the final draft manuscript of all future scholarly articles authored by Duke faculty members to place in an open access repository and to archive for preservation.  Duke could not resell any rights to the work.

* Faculty members retain the copyright to the work and can turn over the copyright to a publisher or any third party.

* Faculty members also have a right to opt-out of the open access repository for specific articles at any time if they wish for their own reasons or if required by their publisher. The archive would also respect any embargo requested by the author or journal.

The policy, which closely follows recently established policies at Harvard, MIT, Stanford and other institutions, was written by a panel of Duke faculty members and administrators after study and discussion with scholars across Duke.  Co-chaired by Mangiafico and English professor Cathy Davidson, the committee was charged by Provost Peter Lange with exploring models of dissemination, archiving and preservation of scholarly research.

“The need to archive the digital output of our faculty and to find ways to make research and teaching materials more widely available becomes more compelling each day,” Lange said. “It is also evident, however, that achieving open or far easier access must be accompanied both by protection of the rights of the producers of knowledge and by assuring that making materials available for such access is a simple process which promotes, rather than impedes, participation in the archive.”

Lange said the project’s success depends upon the participation of a variety of Duke units and “above all our faculty, whose role is critical in creating the open environment of intellectual exchange that digitization and the Internet enable.”

Mangiafico said the task force knows that the archive is not like the “Field of Dreams.” 

“The very first institutions that built open access archives often just put it up there and invited faculty members to use it,” he said.  “It’s no surprise that many didn’t get used.  We want to create a system that provides easy service for faculty members and won’t duplicate other work they already have to do.  This shouldn’t be a burden for them.”

Duplication of effort was one of the key questions faculty members had at the Feb. 25 Academic Council meeting.  Some schools, such as Law, already have open access repositories for journal articles.  Faculty who receive National Institutes of Health grants are required by the funder to deposit resulting publications in an open access NIH archive, and some faculty already deposit their publications in open access disciplinary repositories like arXiv.

Mangiafico said the concept is that faculty members would only have to deposit articles in one place to have them appear in all necessary repositories.  He added that he expects the process will include automated faculty notification so that they would not need to be proactive about initiating deposit to the Duke archive if their article is already available elsewhere.

Copyright issues are a second concern.  Most journals require faculty members to turn over rights for their articles.  In some cases, Davidson said, faculty members have been required by journals to take down online copies of their own articles.  In one instance, she said, a medical school faculty member had to pay to use her own article for teaching in her class. The license granted by faculty members to Duke under this policy would allow Duke and the author to retain rights to use and share the article as long as it is not sold.


Taskforce Members:

Martha Adams, Medical School

Stuart Benjamin, Law

Cathy Davidson, English and Franklin Humanities Institute (co- chair)

Samantha Earp, OIT Academic Services

Paolo Mangiafico, Provost Office (co-chair)

Jim Moody, Sociology

Negar Mottahedeh, Literature

Tony O'Driscoll, Fuqua

Tim Pyatt, University Archives/Special Collections Library

Kathleen Smith, Biology

Kevin Smith, Library/Scholarly Communications

Kim Steinle, Duke University Press

Deborah Jakubs, Library (ex-officio)


In situations where an author or publisher objects to Duke providing open access to an article, the faculty member could opt out of having the article appear publicly in the repository, though Duke may still keep a “dark” copy for archival purposes. Where publishers require (or the author requests) an embargo period before open access, the Duke repository would respect that.

The bottom line is that the policy should not interfere with the publication or peer-review process. “Faculty members will of course continue to be able to publish in the journals they want to appear in,” Mangiafico said.  “The main effect of this policy is to make the default position to allow open access from Duke where possible, with an opt-out or embargo where necessary.”

Faculty members benefit, Davidson said, because it allows them to share their work more widely.  In a recent blog posting supporting the policy, she wrote, “Some studies of citations suggest that papers previously published in this preprint open access form are more likely to be cited than essays that are not available.“

Davidson added that the policy is sensitive to the needs of academic journals, many of which are supporting of open access.  “We’re trying to be responsible to the entire process,” she said.

One Duke faculty member says the open access policy should have a positive influence on the journals that publish the scholarly writing. “If NOVEL contributors choose to deposit their articles in a digital archive once they have been accepted and revised for publication but before final copyediting and formatting, the greater the chance that a new group of scholars and students beyond our regular subscribers and readers will encounter those materials,” said Nancy Armstrong, Gilbert, Louis and Edward Lehrman Professor of English and editor of the journal NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction.

“It follows from this that more potential subscribers and readers will find their ways to the journal and get to know our contributors -- who tend to be new and rising members of a variety of fields within novel studies. If a visitor to the digital archive should want to cite one of NOVEL's articles, presumably they will use the published version.  Everybody wins.”

And the policy also gets Duke ahead of any federal mandates. Mangiafico noted that the Federal Research Public Access Act is likely to pass the current Congress and would make open access a requirement for federally funded research. Having a repository and service model in place at Duke will help its faculty comply with possible funder mandates.

The Duke policy is scheduled to be discussed further at the Academic Council meeting on March 18. Lange said the task force is asking the council for a commitment to the philosophy of open access and to allow the process to begin creating a useful infrastructure for support the repository. 

The cost won’t be known until a plan is developed for the infrastructure, which could take as much as a year, Mangiafico said. Duke University Libraries already has a digital repository up and running for theses and dissertations, and has begun planning for service models to facilitate archiving of faculty publications under this policy. Upon passage of the policy, staff from Duke Libraries and the Office of Information Technology will work with the task force and faculty members over the next year to further develop services and infrastructure to support this initiative.

Both the policy and the service model will be reviewed after three years and a report is to be presented to the faculty.

Down the road the project can lead to other opportunities: An enhanced faculty database, automatic reports for faculty members on citations and downloads of their papers, or improved faculty and departmental websites.  But the primary purpose of the project is to help ensure Duke research gets as broad an audience as possible.


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