NIH Open Access Policy Increases Access to Medical Literature

Scientists communicate their research findings through journal articles.  This is true for both medical research and translational research, which translates basic science research to clinical practice with the express aim to improve patient health outcomes.   Keeping up with advances in clinical research is essential for health care providers to provide the best care for their patients meaning they need to timely and ongoing access to journal articles.  However, only a minority of medical journals are open access; most require a subscription which can be costly. In 2017 health sciences journal’s subscription costs averaged $1,732 per journal annually (titles in Clarivate Analytics Indexes).  Pay per view costs for single journal articles frequently ranging from $30 to $50 per article.  Health care providers not affiliated with hospital or medical center with a library to negotiate and pay for journal subscriptions are often left on their own to pay for journal articles.

Within this context, the importance of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) passage of its Public Access Policy on April 7, 2008 becomes apparent.  The Policy states that all peer-reviewed articles based in any part on NIH funded research must be made publicly available through PubMed Central within 12 months of publication.  PubMed Central is a free, full-text repository.  NIH promotes compliance to this policy by delaying continued and future funding if investigators don’t follow this policy.  NIH’s rationale for the mandate was that the results of publicly funded research should be available to the public.  Currently 5.1 million articles are archived in PubMed Central.  However, an article published in 2015 reported that 76% of physicians recruited to their study were unaware of the NIH Public Access Policy.  This indicates a clear need for targeted publicity of the policy.  It should be noted that a knowledge of the NIH Policy is not needed to access articles made available through PubMed Central because of the policy.  PubMed Central articles are clearly linked to from PubMed, a freely available online article database of biomedical journal articles.  In addition, medical-related searches in Google Scholar frequently link to PubMed  or PubMed Central records, again providing access to the full text articles.

The NIH Open Access Policy is an important step toward open access to medical journal articles.  Because the mandate allows a 1 year embargo before articles are made open access, access to current research is delayed, but it has made millions of articles available to the public.  Despite a lack of awareness of the policy by physicians, they still have the opportunity to access full text articles through PubMed Central.

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This week is Open Access Week!

The Scholarly Communication, Copyright, and Publishing Program, Open Dartmouth Working Group, the Library, and campus partners are celebrating Open Access Week 2018, October 22-26. Open Access week is a global event centered around Open Access: free, immediate access to information with rights for reuse. OA Week at Dartmouth will feature a broad range of discussions, workshops, films, and other events focused on this year’s theme, “Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge.” This theme has inspired exciting collaborations with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, the Rauner SpeakOut and Historical Accountability programs, and an acclaimed film producer/director, Jason Schmitt (Paywall: the Business of Scholarship), that will provide opportunities to share ideas about inclusive, equitable, and accessible knowledge that can truly serve the needs of a diverse global community. For more information and registration information the events please visit: 

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Plan S for Open Access

What is Plan S?

Plan S was announced on September 4th, 2018 by cOAlition S, a group comprised of the European Commission, the European Research Council, and 11 European national funders.  It is an ambitious  initiative that aims to ensure (by 2020) immediate open access publication of research funded national funding organizations.  Plan S states:“After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.” Read more at the  Ten Principles of Plan S.

How does Plan S impact Open Access in the United States?

Although Plan S is a European initiative, developments in Europe have an important influence on open access and scholarly communication conversations in other parts of the world, including the United States.  Authors, librarians, and scholars have observed European academic publishing and institutional practices closely as leaders in open access development and implementation. For example, members of the 2002 Budapest Open Access Initiative coined the term “open access” and articulated ways in which scholarship could be published and shared openly online. After that, the 2011 Horizon 2020 proposal recommended that all funded research in Europe be made openly available via open access publication or an open repository, a proposal that saw implementation by 2013.  Following European progress towards and support of openly available research, in February 2013 the Obama Administration issued the “Expanding Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research” policy memorandum stating that publicly funded research must be made easily and openly available to the public.  The memorandum resulted in the 2015 Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Mandate for Public Access to Federally Funded Research Results. Now research funded by public organizations (e.g., NSF, NIH, etc.) must be made publicly available once it is published.

Today, Plan S takes the OSTP Mandate a step further by stating that research funded by public grants must be published in open access journals or immediately (in its final published state) on open access platforms. While the United States may be months or years from takings steps like this, Plan S has already generated significant conversations within US scholarly communication, open access, and research circles. There is both healthy optimism and concern around Plan S and its success, and these conversations are sure to lead towards progress and innovation in efforts to increase open access to the world’s research and scholarship. Follow some of these conversations on Twitter, #plan_s

For questions about this or other scholarly communication issues, please reach out:

Jen Green, Digital Scholarship Librarian


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Federal Open Textbook Pilot: Call for Applications

This past Spring 2018, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and other advocates for open access to information, scholarship, and knowledge received the exciting news that Congress voted to approve a $5 million Open Textbook Pilot Program. SPARC has played a key role in seeing this issue through Congressional vote and implementation at the Department of Education, and  SPARC’s work on this important issue will continue beyond the 2018 fiscal year (FY18).  On July 30th, the Department of Education issued a  Call for Applications aimed at academic institutions working to create and improve access and use of open textbooks.  The application deadline is August 29th, 2018.

In a summary provided by SPARC: “The Department will award the $5 million in 1-3 grants large grants to consortia of at least three higher education institutions with employer, workforce, and community partners. The program is focused on student savings through expanding open textbooks for high-enrollment courses within a sequence or degree program, and the Department heavily emphasizes Career and Technical Education (CTE).”

SPARC’s Open Textbook Facts:

Cited online at SPARC, August 24th, 2018:

  • Open textbooks and open educational resources (OER) are academic materials that are freely available to download, edit and share to better serve all students. These materials come in all formats, including print and digital, and have an open copyright license that permits free and flexible use.
  • Numerous institutions of higher education have launched open textbook pilot programs.  An analysis of open textbook pilot programs by the Student PIRGs found that these programs saved students $128 per course on college textbook costs. If every undergraduate took one course that used an open textbook, students would save more than $1.4 billion per year.
  • Open textbook grant programs at the state level have a strong track record of achieving savings for students. States including Georgia and North Dakota have funded open textbook grant programs that have ultimately saved students more than ten times the amount invested. As such, a $5 million investment could save students $50 million or more.
  • Peer-reviewed research has found that students assigned free, open textbooks do as well or better than their peers in terms of grades, course completion, and other measures of academic success. Open textbooks can reduce costs while also supporting student success.

If you would like to know more about open textbooks, open educational resources, and the Open Textbook Pilot program, please don’t hesitate to contact Jen Green, Digital Scholarship Librarian or Katie Harding, Education and Outreach Librarian.

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Introduction to Digital Humanities in the Library


manatees sourced from: Cordierite. “Manatee.” Piq, 316837, Publisher, July 15, 2015,

Digital “hue” manatees. Sourced from: Cordierite. “Manatee.” July 15, 2015,

With technological advances, researcher preferences are changing and libraries are changing with them, including new departmental needs to accommodate these changes. One of these changes is the inclusion of Digital Humanities within the library, a growing field that intersects digital platforms with humanities fields. To educate library and other Dartmouth staff on the Digital Humanities (DH)  field, Laura Braunstein, the Digital Humanities Librarian at Dartmouth, led an 8 session course that sought to address the what, how, who and why of DH: “what is it?”, “how is it done?”, “who does it?”, and “why do it?”

Digital Humanities encompasses intersections of technology and the humanities that explore the utilization of technological platforms and tools in the humanities fields as well as a humanities perspective on using and teaching technology. More than just a technological addition, DH challenges and changes traditional humanities. The digital world offers new opportunities and challenges in dissemination and structure that alter how the materials are accessed, used, and processed by consumers. These changes create opportunities for publications of scholarship in more nonlinear and connected ways, such as crowdsourcing for information or visualizing and presenting information in non-traditional ways.

Open access, scholarship freely available online to anyone with internet access, is one of the advantages to DH projects, but it also creates questions surrounding the rights to create digitized DH materials. What rights are required in order to make materials available digitally? Given the digital nature of DH projects, making them freely available online can be easily accomplished once issues surrounding copyright and other factors are treated thoughtfully.  Librarians within the Scholarly Communication, Copyright, and Publishing Program at Dartmouth consult with DH project authors on what rights and obligations in sharing content within their projects.

The “Occom Circle Project” provides an example of a DH project in the library. Dartmouth teams created an open access digital edition of handwritten documents from, to, or pertaining to Samson Occom and those who were close to him. The project not only included digital photos and TEI markup of the documents, but also added links within the documents that provided additional information for the people, places, and situations referenced within the writing. This project not only increases accessibility to the materials, but also opens up the texts for word mining by including the TEI markup and anticipates how a scholar would use the text by providing links to more information on referenced topics, and differs from accessing and reading through the physical copies or online photos of the materials.

The format of the Introduction to Digital Humanities course itself was an experiment in learning and use of digital tools. Rather than teaching as a one-time workshop, the class met twice a week for lecture and discussions and completed assignments in discussion posts and readings. This format contributed to greater familiarity amongst the staff members and a more consistent connection to the material. It was interesting to see how staff from different departments connected the conversations on DH to their own work and experiences. Overall, the course looked not just at DH, but also at how technology is changing libraries and what that means for those within it; potential for a change in the role of librarian and potential for changing the ways to access and understand scholarly material.

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Dartmouth Digital Commons: Share your work!

In October 2017, the Library and the Scholarly Communication, Copyright, and Publishing Program launched Dartmouth Digital Commons, which is place for sharing a Dartmouth’s scholarly output with the world. Dartmouth Digital Commons (DDC) can accommodate many different types of materials and collections, but one collection that is quickly growing on DDC is the Open Dartmouth:  Faculty Open Access Articles collection.  This collection exists as a place to implement the Dartmouth Faculty Open Access policy, which offers Dartmouth Faculty in the Thayer School of Engineering, the Geisel School of Medicine, and the Arts and Sciences the opportunity to share their published articles openly with the world.  While the open access policy opens more doors for sharing, publishers still have the right to restrict which version of an article is shared by Dartmouth through DDC.  Reviewing our rights to share articles on DDC is a major part of the work that we do within the Scholarly Communication, Copyright, and Publishing Program, especially as we search for Dartmouth scholarship and add it to the Open Dartmouth collection.  Although we have ways to find and add Dartmouth faculty scholarship to DDC,  we enthusiastically accept individual submissions from faculty who would like to share their publications in DDC.

Dartmouth faculty can do this in three easy steps:

  1. Click on “Submit Work” on the Open Dartmouth: Faculty Open Access collection page, and enter the faculty NetID where it says “Login.”
  2. Complete the form’s required fields and attach a copy of your article at the bottom of the form.
  3. Click “Submit”and relax.  Faculty authors don’t need to worry about whether they have the rights to share the article.  The article comes directly to the Scholarly Communication Program, and we research the rights on each author’s behalf before it is posted online.  If we need a different version, we will reach out and ask the author for one.  If it’s ready to share, faculty are notified via email when it becomes openly available on DDC.

While the Dartmouth Faculty Open Access policy does not apply to all members of the campus community, there are other collections on DDC that make it possible to share a variety of student and staff works. These include Chemistry lectures, Library staff publications, and student-led journals.  Please browse and learn more about these other collections on Dartmouth Digital Commons. If you would like to learn more about finding, using, and creating collections on Dartmouth Digital Commons, please contact:

Jen GreenDigital Scholarship Librarian

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Open Repositories 2018: Sustaining Open through work with Librarian Liaisons

This year’s Open Repositories Conference was held at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana and provided an opportunity for international repository managers, information technology professionals, and librarians to examine open access through he lens of sustainability.  Past conferences have focused identifying and building or implementing an open repository solution, which a growing number of institutions have already achieved within the past five years. So, the questions and challenges around repository work are shifting from: “how do we build it?” to “how do we make sure that it is visible and relevant to researchers and authors?”

At many institutions, getting the word out about open access repository services means working closely with librarians who liaise regularly with specific departments and disciplines about their research and teaching needs. Librarian liaisons at Dartmouth communicate frequently and directly with faculty and are in positions to share important information about new library tools, resources, and services such as Dartmouth Digital Commons.  But, a common challenge across most institutions is that librarian liaisons have a wide range of information to share about library services and resources, and they may be stretched too thin to respond with ease to questions and project ideas surrounding copyright, publishing, and open access. Conversations about work with liaisons shifted this year from: “how do we develop relationships with liaisons and teach them about what the repository can do?” to “what can we do for liaisons to make the work of sharing information easier and more sustainable for them to incorporate into the broad range of messages that they  must convey to faculty?”

Within Dartmouth’s Scholarly Communication, Copyright, and Publishing Program, keeping liaisons “in the know” about new developments in open access and publishing has come in the form of workshops and roundtable discussions specifically designed for liaisons as they search for talking points with faculty on the topics of copyright, publishing, and the Dartmouth Faculty Open Access policy. I also lead a working group of librarians interested in gaining deeper knowledge about open access called the Open Dartmouth Working Group.  This group meets twice each month and collaborates throughout the year on open access education and outreach efforts that span the campus.

This year’s Open Repositories conference offered me some new ideas about how I can help liaisons help me communicate about open access, publishing, and Dartmouth Digital Commons. These ideas ranged from providing “talking point” checklists for liaisons to use during meetings with faculty to providing online forms to help faculty articulate their questions about copyright and sharing one’s work to their librarian liaison.  These approaches can help liaisons provide the kind of information back to scholarly communication librarians that is needed to support scholars along their publishing cycles. In the coming year, the Open Dartmouth Working Group and I will explore these new methods for improving how we reach and communicate with Dartmouth scholars about their publishing and open sharing needs and questions.  Through this we hope to do our part in making open access initiatives on our campus accessible and sustainable.

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Examining the openness of “open” at the 2018 Library Publishing Forum

Library representatives nationally and internationally gathered recently on the University of Minnesota’s campus for the 2018 Library Publishing Forum.  This is an annual conference sponsored by the Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) where colleagues who support publishing initiatives can meet  to discuss major challenges and opportunities related to their work their within scholarly communication programs and university presses.  This year’s keynote speaker, Catherine Kudlick from San Francisco State University,  set the tone for much of the conference and workshop content that followed.

Kudlick is a Professor of History and Director of the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability, San Francisco State University.  She has written numerous articles and books on the history of disability and is extremely active in electronic accessibility initiatives.  During her talk Disabilité! Accessibilité! Diversité!: Expanding the Cultural Framework for Library Publishing, Catherine spoke about how accessibility is often applied to products and services as an afterthought, but should really be incorporated into the conception and early design phases of any idea, product, or service.  She also pointed out that all accessibility improvements applied to services and products have a positive impact on all of us.  For example, sidewalk grades, slopes, and surfaces that improve accessibility to wheelchair users also improve accessibility for any sidewalk user. Kudlick added that this idea is no different for electronic products and services.  When we make a website accessible and usable to those who are vision-impaired, we improve searchability, readability, usability, and access for all users.

Accessibility was a common thread throughout the conference.  In the New Directions panel later in the day, Amy Buckland from the University of Guelph addressed accessibility from the perspective of those with disabilities, but also from the perspective the cultural, socially, economically, and educationally diverse groups of people that libraries and library collections serve. Buckland challenged librarians to re-think whether their open access collections are truly open from these various lenses.  She also underlined Kudrick’s point that libraries need to do more to improve accessibility, and this means incorporating accessibility as a key goal from beginning to end of any project or initiative.

I had the opportunity to attend a post-conference workshop that addressed the topic of producing and supporting academic publications that people can find and easily use.  This was the First Library Publishing Curriculum Module on Impact and was sponsored by the Educopia Institute, LPC, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The Impact Workshop provided participants with tools and resources for teaching colleagues at our own institutions about how to effectively improve and measure the impact of our academic publications and other resources. However, the workshop also aligned with the theme of accessibility and ensuring that publications and resources are not only available, but truly open and accessible.  It was another important reminder that we need to work harder to broaden and diversify the reach and impact of our collections.

Issues of accessibility, inclusivity, and impact are critical as librarians and others in publishing environments work to build and sustain resources that are truly open to all. The Library Publishing Forum framed these ideas in a way that helped participants reconsider how we build and sustain Dartmouth collections and services.  If you are interested in the topics of publishing and accessibility, take a moment to browse the full Library Publishing Forum program.  Many of the sessions are available as live streams:



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Publisher copyright transfer agreements

We frequently meet with Dartmouth students, faculty, and staff to talk with them about publishing and copyright.  Recently, a lab group at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) invited us to their recurring meeting to talk about author rights, open access publishing, and publisher policies. Meeting with colleagues in this way is particularly productive because it allows us to customize the information in advance and address their specific needs.  It also offers them an opportunity to ask us questions specific to their communities of practice.

We also consult with Dartmouth authors individually (students, faculty, and staff) just after their article has been accepted for publication, and they reach out to us with questions about the publisher’s copyright transfer agreement. The copyright transfer agreement specifies which copy rights the publisher expects to take and which of the rights the author will retain (if any). Often the publisher is asking to retain “exclusive rights” to the work, which basically means that the author relinquishes their right to publish that work elsewhere or share/post the publisher’s final version (the “Version of Record”) on the author’s own website or elsewhere.  Last week, I happened to receive questions from two separate authors, publishing in two separate journals, but with the same publisher. The legal terminology within copyright transfer agreements can be unclear and daunting, even for prolific authors who have completed multiple article submission processes. Although these two articles were published in separate journals, the terms of the copyright transfer agreement were similar. However, the difference between these situations were the copyright needs of the authors and their individual experience reviewing copyright agreements.

The first question came from a prolific faculty author who had an interest in retaining the rights to share the “Version of Record” (the publisher’s final version).  In reviewing the language within the copyright transfer agreement, we could see that the publisher was asking for exclusive rights to the work, which meant that sharing or posting the “Version of Record” would not be possible for the author if he signed the agreement in its original form.  The author would only be able to share the final, peer-reviewed manuscript, which does not have the same polished look-and-feel of the final published version. In order to help this author, I provided him with the Dartmouth Author’s Amendment Publication Agreement Amendment, which we amended to reflect his request to retain the right to share the publisher’s final peer reviewed version (the “Version of Record”) on his own website and within the Dartmouth Digital Commons: Open Dartmouth Faculty Open Access collection.  This amendment was sent to the author’s editor, who is in the process of reviewing it and deciding whether to change the copyright transfer agreement to reflect the author’s request.  Often authors feel uncertain about modifying the language within the publisher’s copyright transfer agreement. But, making special requests or attempting to change the terms of the agreement can be much more difficult years down the road. Publishers don’t directly acknowledge their familiarity with requests to amend the copyright transfer agreement, but authors should know that this kind of request is not completely unusual for publishers. Requesting an amendment adds an extra step to the process of seeing one’s work published, but it is well worth the try in this stage of the publication process.

The second question came from a graduate student who was publishing his article for the first time as the sole author, which meant that this was his first experience navigating the article submission process with any publisher (previous articles had been published in collaboration with faculty who were the corresponding authors and handled this side of things). His main concern was that  he interpret the copyright transfer agreement correctly and check all of the right boxes as he completed the submission process.  But, he was also interested in better understanding what exactly he was agreeing to when signing the copyright transfer agreement.  We really enjoy helping all authors with copyright questions, but it is particularly satisfying to help new authors become confident in the language of copyright as it pertains to their own work.  This student and I met and we reviewed the terms of the agreement piece-by piece together.  All of the terms were the same as they had been for the author I’d helped previously that week.   But, as a this author’s disciplinary sharing needs were different.  He was not concerned about the publisher’s request to retain exclusive rights to the “Version of Record.” As a mathematician, he felt confident that the difference between the “Version of the Record” and the author’s submitted manuscript is so slim that he’d already felt comfortable sharing that version on a discipline-specific sharing spaces such as, which he had done already.

Whether we meet with authors individually or as a group, it is important to create time and space for authors to ask questions specific to their personal and professional copyright needs.  We will continue to host copyright and publishing events and workshops, but we welcome individual requests and department meeting invitations like the ones described above.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us about with your copyright questions!


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National Library Week: Libraries Lead…

It’s National Library Week and an excellent time to celebrate libraries and library professionals, as well as library resources, services, and initiatives that grow and flourish across the United States.  This year’s theme, Libraries Lead, wonderfully articulates the way libaries ensure that everyone has the right to be informed, pursue education, express ideas, and produce and share their creative and scholarly work.

The 2018 National Library Week compass creatively illustrates the ways in which libraries lead and direct progress within the information landscape.  In fact, many of these terms intersect directly with the work that we do in the Scholarly Communication, Copyright, and Publishing Program at Dartmouth. A goal of the Program is to lead and direct issues around open access to research, data, and educational materials.

Lifelong Learning: This is centrally imperative in our end goals as we support open access to research, scholarship, and creative work. Everyone should be able to access the information they need to learn and develop new ideas–regardless of their social, economical, or geographic situations. Unfortunately,  many scholarly articles are still published in subscription journals that restrict user access because of their high subscription fees, and the extremely high costs of textbooks present barriers to student learning.  Unless you are a student, faculty, or staff member at an institution like Dartmouth that pays for access on your behalf, this information is unaffordable, and therefore inaccessible. Continued work in the open access publishing arena is changing that. For example, researchers can already find many authoritative open access journals online through sources like the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Access and Preservation: The Open Dartmouth: Faculty Open Access Article collection on  Dartmouth Digital Commons (DDC)  is now available at Dartmouth for sharing scholarly content openly with the world.  This is made possible by Dartmouth faculty in Arts & Sciences, Geisel School of Medicine, and Thayer School of Engineering, who voted to adopt the Dartmouth Faculty Open Access Policy.  Those  faculty can share their articles within the Open Dartmouth collection.  DDC is an open repository system supported by the Dartmouth Library, and it is also available for sharing Dartmouth student publications and other emerging staff and department collections. DDC is internationally open, available, and searchable by anyone.

Curiosity :  Information is a key ingredient for supporting the creative process. People engaged in any creative thinking and work have questions, and open access efforts help us reveal and make freely available the information that will help answer those important questions as well as generate new ones.  Curiosity is incredibly important to a culturally, socially, and technologically rich society, and we strive to make information as free as possible in support of that.

Community:  While support for “open” tends to highlight the access and discovery side of this issue,  progress towards”open” would end without researchers’ and creators’ willingness and ability to share their work.  Sharing and communication are cornerstones for building community locally and internationally, but sharing a personal story or a published article can involve risk and vulnerability. Social networking platforms have created environments that encourage and reward sharing, and have made it easier to present our personal and professional selves open to the world.  But, these platforms still do not remove the risk that comes from sharing one’s published or copyrighted work.  Tools such as the Dartmouth Digital Commons are designed to help support sharing in a safe way, and we in the Scholarly Communication, Copyright, and Publishing program are here to offer Dartmouth users education and support for safe and legal sharing of their creative and scholarly work.

There are many other ways that the National Library Week theme Libraries Lead intersects with work towards open access at Dartmouth, and we always look forward to opportunities where we can engage with our community about that. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Jen Green and Barbara DeFelice

Scholarly Communication, Copyright and Publishing Program

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