October 06, 2011

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By Molly O'Brien-Foelsch

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Scholars and readers worldwide will now have free access to newly published peer-reviewed articles and other scholarship produced by Bucknell University faculty members. Bucknell's faculty overwhelmingly approved a policy establishing open access at their Oct. 4 faculty meeting.

Open access is a movement whose advocates believe research results and intellectual advances should be freely available worldwide through digital repositories.

"After considerable discussion and review of current approaches for broadening access to academic literature, Bucknell's Committee for Library and Information Resources and Committee on Instruction recommended that the faculty adopt open access as its default method for disseminating scholarly articles," said Param Bedi, vice president for Library and Information Technology. "Open Access is an important element of scholarly communications, and I am very pleased that a liberal arts institution like Bucknell is taking the lead on this worldwide initiative," said Bedi.

A 2010 survey by Library and Information Technology staff found that even Bucknell professors and students did not have access to a significant portion of articles authored by the University's own faculty. To provide open access, the University will publish scholarly articles online in Bucknell Digital Commons, an archive accessible to anyone with Internet access.

An increasingly democratic system
In its proposal, the Committee for Library and Information Resources cited ethics, research impact and economics as the three main arguments in support of open access. Proponents of open access say research is a public good that should be accessible regardless of their own or their institution's ability to pay subscription fees.

"We are pleased that our faculty and the University will continue to participate in and contribute to an increasingly democratic system for scholarly communication and the dissemination of knowledge," said Provost Mick Smyer. "The goal of open access is to remove barriers such as cost and restrictive licensing policies to disseminate scholarship as widely as possible."

Benefits to faculty
Through the policy, each faculty member grants Bucknell a nonexclusive, paid-up, worldwide license for each of his or her scholarly articles for the purpose of making these articles openly accessible in an institutional repository. The new policy will in no way interfere with the rights of the faculty member as author of the work.

"Bucknell authors will no longer be limited to subscriber-restricted audiences, increasing impact and influence.  We look forward to a future of greater recognition and citation of our scholarly publications," said Heath Hansum, faculty member in the department of theatre and dance and chair of the Committee for Library and Information Resources at Bucknell.

For non-peer-reviewed publications and conference papers, professors may provide bibliographic information for placement in the repository. The University will grant waivers to faculty who want to opt out of the policy at any time and for any reason.

Contact: Division of Communications