Tag Archives: open access

RIOT Recap: Teaching Open Access in Instruction Sessions

The RIOT discussion on December 15 was all about open access.  Sarah led off with a question for all of us sparked by her post – is there a place to incorporate Open Access and OERs into one-shots?

We had an excellent discussion about how this does and could work in both undergraduate and graduate classrooms, and what the challenges are.  Many of us already talk about open access journals in our undergraduate classes and find that students get very engaged when you talk about the price of journal/database subscriptions (about $10m/year for UTL) and “behind the scenes” information about the Libraries.  This line of discussion comes up in the context of evaluating information, including understanding peer-review, and is easy to demonstrate when talking about GoogleScholar.  Nobody has intentionally brought it up or built a lesson around it in undergrad classes, though, and there was some discussion of what this might look like.  Ideas included using Colleen’s infographic from OA week to spark discussion or asking students to look for information in both an open access portal (such as DOAJ) and a database and compare.  This might work better in a class with a social justice component.

When talking about open access in graduate student classrooms, there are natural ties to their own publishing activities.  Janelle works with one seminar class where she spends 1 of her 2 sessions with them talking about this very issue.  Because social justice is a big component of the College of Education, she is able to frame her discussion of OA this way.   As she puts it, she asks them to “think about how what they are creating can’t be accessed by the people they are most trying to help.”  PG talked about the importance of continuing education to social workers and how that lends itself to a discussion of OA.

We also talked about how to tie discussions of OA and Creative Commons to other creative activities besides scholarly publishing.  Sidney talked about how many of her grad students and faculty want to use other people’s work in their own creative work (often without citation) but do not want to openly share their own.  There are fears that sharing your own work under a creative commons license will lead to others profiting from it or using it in ways with which you disagree.  This happens in the College of Ed, too, where people are training to be teachers (or may already be teachers) who heavily borrow from each other’s work already.  Janelle encourages them to think about how to share their work with others for the benefit of those they teach.

One challenge everyone discussed is how to be an activist about this topic with or in front of people who are participating in the system.  For example, when you are teaching undergraduates and talking about changing the model for scholarly publishing, the faculty member in the room is often a participant in that model.  Graduate students often have to participate in that model when they get on the tenure track to achieve tenure.  The trick is to find a balance between raising awareness about the issue and still showing why using library journals/databases now is important in the current environment.  Janelle often explains to her users that if the model did change, the $10m we spend on subscriptions now could go to support research instead.

The discussion went on past the hour and included some non-instruction related threads such as:

  • the importance of educating faculty to write OA into their grant proposals so that the fees for publishing in OA journals are covered
  • the difference between disciplines and how the sciences are more embracing of OA and use different metrics
  • trying to connect with the people on campus who make course packs so that we don’t ask students to pay copyright fees for articles we already subscribe to
  • wishing there was a simple way to add links to articles in our databases within Canvas – the current model is too much of a barrier for faculty and we don’t have the staff to do it for them, although it would be a great cost savings for students

We also had some ideas for OA week that Michele will pass along to Colleen, including having giant checks in the PCL lobby to clearly show the costs of our current system, and taking some undergrad and grad papers, and even a dissertation, and showing how much each “cost” to create (basically adding up subscription fees for the journals they accessed).

Michele also promised to send around the ACRL IL/Schol Comm white paper from a few years ago, which can be found here – http://acrl.ala.org/intersections/.


RIOT – Teaching Open Access in Instruction Sessions?

For the 12/15 RIOT:

I was really interested in this C&RL article (http://crln.acrl.org/content/76/10/530.full.pdf+html) about the efforts leading up to an Open Access policy at the University of Washington (thanks to Michele for sending it to me).  Of course, other schools have policies like this one, but not every school has had a push towards Open Access spearheaded by students.

Reading this article got me thinking about ways to raise awareness of the Open movement on campus, and particularly Open Access and OER topics.  I brought the topic to our Library Student Advisory Council meeting, but also wondered if these topics have a place in our library instruction classrooms.  The way I have occasionally fit OA into one-shots is by mentioning the expense and access restrictions that are characteristic of much scholarly literature, or by using materials like this video from PHD Comics.  Often, though, I don’t have time to fit this in.  I’ve never brought the concept of OERs into a one-shot.

So, RIOTers, do you talk about Open Access or OERs in your one-shots?  Is it our job as instruction librarians to talk about this?  If you do bring it up, how?  What background or context do you provide?  Have you had faculty request that you cover this topic?  How should we approach this topic differently for students at different levels?  Will it take student involvement to create an OA policy at UT?

Discussion: Cathedrals and Bazaars: Discussing Scholarly Publishing and Open Access with Undergraduates

Elise’s RIOT post led to a rich discussion of the limitations of the one-shot instruction session, how to discuss the economics of information in that limited time period, and how we can work with faculty across disciplines to help students understand and evaluate different models of scholarly publishing.

Elise mentioned the Library Class that she and Shiela Winchester developed to discuss scholarly publishing practices.  The session was developed with graduate students in mind, but Elise wondered what it would look like to redevelop the session for an undergraduate audience and what changes would be necessary to make in an effective discussion of topics like open access for that audience.

As Elise mentioned in her post, the authors suggest that when we spend so much time teaching about how to find information and use tools, we don’t have time to talk about all the nuances of the scholarly conversation.  Time is a barrier to explaining such a complicated issue.

A few threads of the conversation that followed:

  • How can we address the journal pricing crisis in a way that resonates with undergraduates?
  • When we tell students that they should use our great resources because they won’t have access to them after they graduate, how does that make the tools and information meaningful to students who won’t continue as scholars?
  • Elise mentioned using the Peer Review in 5 Minutes video from NCSU on research guides to embed this information in the support she provides courses.
  • The publishing model of Wikipedia can be an entry point into this discussion with undergraduates.
  • Discussion of authority lead to deeper discussion of publishing models and why information is being published in a certain place.
  • Kristen mentioned getting students to try out different searches in different tools and evaluate the results without making distinctions between whether it was being provided by the library or another information services.
  • April talks a lot about evaluating business government resources that are often free and open.  Students crave a checklist and don’t necessarily want to deal with the nuances of critical evaluation.
  • Kristen likes to see the discussion in assignments of seeking the “authoritative source” rather than an emphasis on a “peer-reviewed source.”
  • Brittany talked about how her work with public relations students requires discussions of corporate responsibility and communications.  For example, when evaluating PR literature, it’s important to understand the relationships between brands and corporations. Dove’s empowerment messages for women become even more problematic when you recognize the same company owns Axe Body Spray.  Evaluation becomes an endless series of asking “Why?” and/or “So what?”
  • The discussion ended with some consideration of how students struggle to recognize formats and how this is complicated even more with new publishing models, like open access journals and repositories.  As formats for scholarly publishing change, how are they impacting citation practices? Students already struggle to follow style guidelines for websites versus newspapers published online, for example.


RIOT: Cathedrals and Bazaars: discussing scholarly publishing and open access with undergrads

Kim Duckett and Scott Warren. “Chapter 2 Exploring the Intersections of Information Literacy and Scholarly Communication [Two Frames of Reference for Undergraduate Instruction]” Common Ground at the Nexus of Information Literacy and Scholarly Communication. Ed. Stephanie Davis-Kahl and Merinda Kaye Hensley. Chicago, IL: Association of College & Research Libraries, 2013. 25-44.

Available at: http://works.bepress.com/scott_warren/8

I was drawn to this article partially because it’s Open Access Week and we have a lot of events planned here at the Library to bring attention to this emerging issue. I’ve also been thinking about open access in terms of a Library Class I co-created and co-taught on scholarly publishing. The audience for this discussion seems to be primarily graduate students, researchers and faculty, but lately we’ve been talking here in LIS about the ins and outs of explaining the intricacies of scholarly communication to undergrads. What information is useful to them? How much is too much?

This book chapter by Kim Duckett and Scott Warren makes a good case for discussing the scholarly communication process with undergrads, including issues surrounding open access, the journal pricing crisis and more. A lot of faculty for whom I do one shot instruction sessions will remark at some point during the session how “lucky” the students are to have access to the subscriptions the library offers, that they should take advantage of this access worth “millions of dollars” because they will be cut off upon graduation. It’s meant to get students interested, but I think the concept is abstract to them. Information is, largely, free in these students’ minds, especially since they may be in the nascent stages of learning how to evaluate sources. I struggle in my class planning with how to communicate the world of scholarly communication to undergrads and how to avoid the inevitable glazed over looks and drooping eyelids when the topic comes up.

As Duckett and Warren point out, “[the tools and practices researchers use] are the same processes that students are asked to participate in when they must find scholarly literature and use it in their assignments in ways perceived as valuable and appropriate to the academic community.” (26) We are asking them to contribute to and interact with scholarly dialog, but we don’t give them the full picture, so they adopt a dilettantish persona when doing so, never fully invested in the culture. When you really think about peer review, journal publication practices, how information is created and disseminated, consumed and built upon in academia, it’s antithetical to typical experiences of outsiders. Entering into this level of research, however, cannot be done in a vacuum, and we are doing our students a disservice by leaving this part of the conversation hidden.

The authors suggest two frameworks for discussing scholarly communication with undergrads. One, the Sociocultural Frame, discusses the peer review process, the roles played in it, why its important and why professors require information of this kind in research. We as librarians often assume this information has been communicated by instructors, but we have all had the experience of encountering an upper level undergrad at the desk who has a murky understanding of peer review. Very often, an instructor or a librarian will assume that the student learned these concepts in a previous course, so we gloss over the details.

The Economic Frame that the authors suggest is an expanded version of us preaching “accessing these journals costs you millions.” At NCSU, the librarians developed a seventy five minute workshop detailing the business side of information. How much subscriptions cost and how those steep prices exclude populations. The librarians also highlight issues such as the Cost of Knowledge, taxpayer-funded research, and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Librarians who teach this course find that students become engaged in this discussion. The sticker shock of some journals, the issues of inequality in information access and the various movements which have risen in opposition get students interested because they touch upon concepts to which we all relate: “sharing, ownership, use (and reuse), credit for creation, payment, career advancement, sustainability, etc.” (41).

The authors touch upon issues surrounding open access, but don’t discuss it in great depth, and I wonder about the best way to approach this controversial topic. We have the experience to look at it from both sides, but those new to academia have more experience in a culture where knowledge is free or stolen, traded and willingly shared. I wonder if open access is a no-brainer to them and if that means that the world of scholarly publishing is on the precipice of extinction.

Even within the short one-shot instruction session, how do you talk about scholarly publishing practices, open access, etc.? What concepts get students’ attention?

Can you gauge your students’ perception of academic journal publishing, peer review, and the rest? In other words, are they impressed that these journals cost so much money, or are they disillusioned with institutionalized knowledge, questioning how something so expensive and available to so few could be relevant in our culture?

What are your students’ perceptions of open-access? Even without knowledge of bibliometrics and h-index, do you get the sense that students today would embrace the movement, or are they wary?