David Ernst coming to UT Austin

As part of the Year of Open programming, David Ernst, the Executive Director of the University of Minnesota Open Textbook Library, will be on the UT Austin campus Thursday, November 5th. He’ll be giving a talk on Open Textbooks: Access, Affordability, and Academic Success at 2:00pm in the Texas Governors’ Room (Texas Union 3.116).

More information about Year of Open and Dr. Ernst’s event can be found here: https://learningsciences.utexas.edu/initiatives/year-of-open

UC OA policy extends to all UC employees

The University of California has expanded the reach of their open access policy by including all UC employees. The Presidential Open Access Policy builds on the Academic Senate open access policy and will include scholarly research authored by clinical faculty, lecturers, staff researchers, postdoc scholars, grad students, and librarians.

You can find out more about the policy here: http://osc.universityofcalifornia.edu/2015/10/groundbreaking-presidential-oa-policy-covers-all-employees/

Open Textbooks save students $1.5 million

The University of Minnesota announced today that the Open Textbook Network has saved students $1.5 million dollars through the adoption of open textbooks. The Open Textbook Library has over 200 open textbooks that anyone can use.

For more information about this exciting achievement, see the official announcement: http://discover.umn.edu/news/teaching-education/u-ms-open-textbook-network-reports-student-savings-15-million-open-textbooks

OA Spectrum Evaluation Tool

SPARC has announced the launch of the Open Access Spectrum Evaluation Tool. The tool provides a concrete way to analyze the openness of a particular journal. The tool measures  journal policies regarding reading/reuse rights, author posting rights, machine readability, compliance with funder & institutional mandates, and other openness indicators.

Five hundred journals have been added to the tool to start and they hope to add another five hundred before the end of the year.

Announcement about the launch: http://sparc.arl.org/news/sparc-launches-open-access-evaluation-tool

OAS Evaluation Tool: http://www.oaspectrum.org/

Academia.edu and open access

I just read an interesting blog post about Academia.edu by Gary Hall: http://www.garyhall.info/journal/2015/10/18/does-academiaedu-mean-open-access-is-becoming-irrelevant.html

Academia.edu (and ResearchGate) come up quite frequently when I talk with faculty, postdocs, and grad students. I’ve always advised that it may be a good tool to use if you are trying to network with your colleagues, but that it isn’t necessarily the best choice if your goal is long-term access to your content. After all, Academia.edu makes no promises about the long-term preservation of works deposited – in fact they explicitly state that they reserve the right to terminate the site at any time without prior notice.

Gary’s article gets into the data mining aspect of sites like Academia.edu, where the product isn’t really the site, but the usage data generated on the site.

As with so many things, there are pros and cons to using sites like Academia.edu and ResearchGate. It’s important for us to talk with faculty about what those pros and cons are.

What’s the deal with Open Access?

Knowledge unfortunately isn’t free.

Much of the research being conducted at universities, colleges, and institutes around the world is written up by professors, graduate students, and research associates and published in toll-access (subscription) journals. Anyone lacking a subscription to that journal will not be able to access the articles published there. This creates a serious access problem for many people across the globe.

An alternative method of publishing, called Open Access, is gaining in popularity and it allows for anyone to read the results of research for free.

Why should I care?

The short version:

expensive journals = less access to research results, especially for those outside of wealthy higher-ed institutions

less access = less research being done and/or research not happening quickly because of access barriers

The long version:

Most scholarly work is currently published through toll-access journals. The work is given to the journals for free by researchers and faculty at colleges and universities – they do this in exchange for the prestige that comes with publishing their work. Many times the research being described in the journals was funded by public agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. These journals charge a subscription fee for access to the articles they publish. Sometimes the subscription fees are quite reasonable and other times they are outrageously expensive. At most colleges and universities, the Library assumes responsibility for the subscription and for providing access.

For students, researchers, and faculty at wealthy institutions this arrangement has worked relatively well for the past 100+ years. For those researchers at less-wealthy institutions or those unaffiliated with a college or university, it has created an access barrier that makes research difficult. Without a subscription to a journal, a researcher needs to try contacting colleagues at other institutions that do have a subscription or needs to email the authors to see if they will send a copy. These techniques are not always successful which means those researchers are left without access to information they need.

In addition, costs for scholarly journals have been rising rapidly at rates outpacing what libraries can anticipate and plan for based on the inflation rate.  This has created an unfortunate situation in which libraries have to cancel some journal subscriptions and purchase fewer books each year in order to keep up with price increases for the journal subscriptions that are considered critical to maintain.

What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) is the free, immediate, online availability to works without significant copyright or licensing restrictions. Put another way, it means access to scholarly and creative works without price and permission barriers.

There are two main routes to OA:

  • publish in an open access journal – this means the work is freely available from the moment of publication. This is sometimes called gold open access.
  • Deposit a copy of your work in a freely available archive – this generally happens either at the time of publication or after publication. This is sometimes called green open access.

What can I do?

As a student you can support OA by asking your professors if they publish their work openly – either in open access journals or in an openly available archive. You can also deposit your own work in the University of Texas at Austin online archive called Texas ScholarWorks.

As a researcher or faculty member you can publish your work in an open access journal, and/or you can deposit copies of your work in Texas ScholarWorks. And, you can start discussions in your department about how faculty and researchers are evaluated for promotion and tenure.

For anyone at UT:

  • Stop by booths we’ll have set up during Open Access Week. We’ll have one booth outside PCL on Monday, Oct. 19th from 11am-1pm. We’ll be in the PCL Lobby on the East Mall near CLA on Thursday, Oct. 22nd from 11am-1pm. We’ll be handing out free stuff and answering your open access questions.
  • Tweet about open access using #openaccess
  • Read about, write about, and talk about open access

What is Texas ScholarWorks?

Texas ScholarWorks (TSW) is an online archive managed by UT Libraries. The goal of TSW is to provide open, online access to the products of the University’s research and scholarship and to preserve these works for future generations. TSW is highly indexed by Google and managed by the Libraries for long-term preservation. It’s easy for members of the UT Austin community (faculty, researchers, students, and staff) to share their work through TSW. Simply check out the FAQs or send an email to tsw at utlists dot utexas dot edu for information about how to submit.

Repository competition for OA Week 2015

UT Libraries is having a competition to celebrate Open Access Week and to get library staff involved in using the repository. A permanent library staff member may participate by uploading content to Texas ScholarWorks (either on behalf of someone else or uploading their own content) or by talking to someone else and getting that person’s commitment to upload something.  All competition participants will receive a prize and will be entered into a drawing for the grand prize – 100% reimbursement for conference travel within the U.S. The contest runs Oct. 1st – Oct. 31st, 2015. Contact Gilbert or Colleen at tsw at utlists dot utexas dot edu for more information.


1. What is appropriate content for Texas ScholarWorks?

Content that was created here at UT Austin and has scholarly or historic importance. Examples include: journal articles, technical papers, conference proceedings, conference presentations (where applicable), posters, newsletters, event recordings or photographs, student work (undergraduate student work requires a faculty sponsor), educational resources, or data.

2. Can students workers participate in the contest?

No, only permanent UT Libraries staff members may participate.

3. Does this mean I have to upload all content for my subject areas now?

No, since the purpose of the competition is to get library staff involved in using the repository, for the duration of the competition, library staff are expected to upload their own content. After the competition ends the repository unit will resume uploading content on behalf of authors. In the event that a UT Austin unit/department wants to submit dozens of items during the competition period, please contact Gilbert or Colleen for assistance.

4. I’m not a UT Libraries staff member, but I’m interested in this competition. Is there anything I can do?

If you are a UT Austin student, faculty, researcher, or staff member you may work with a UT Libraries staff member to get your work added to Texas ScholarWorks (TSW). You won’t be able to win a prize, but you could get fame and fortune by sharing your work online via TSW. If you are unsure of which staff member to contact, please see our subject list or contact tsw at utlists dot utexas dot edu for assistance.

5. How do I record my activity for the competition?

You can use this form to record your competition activity. Each contact will count as an entry to the grand prize drawing and each entry should be recorded using the form. For instance, if you upload three of your own pieces of scholarship that would count as one activity/one entry. If you then uploaded two items on behalf of someone in a department that would count as another entry. And if you talked to someone in a department and got their commitment that they would upload something that would count as a third entry. For the example above our hypothetical participant should have completed the activity form three separate times and would be entered into the grand prize drawing three times.