Challenges of open access implementation

or2016_logoresizeI recently returned from Open Repositories 2016 (OR2016), which took place this June at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. I presented a poster titled Illuminating Shifting Perspectives and Roles, which highlights open access implementation work that we’re doing at Dartmouth to harvest faculty citations through the use of software called Symplectic Elements. The project involves collaborating with staff across the Dartmouth Library system, teaching them to use Elements to accurately find and identify the work of Dartmouth scholars, and facilitating communication between library staff and faculty about their research. Working within the scholarly communication landscape is new role for library staff at Dartmouth and institutions worldwide. OR2016 was an opportunity to interact with colleagues around the world about how they approach open access implementation in collaboration with library colleagues at their institutions.

Image from: the poster was for an international audience, I also highlighted some of the difference between implementing open access repositories in the United States vs. other parts of the world. For example, in Europe, academic institutions have government support to mandate faculty participation in open access repositories. This means that faculty are required to self-declare and self-submit their publications for inclusion in an open access environment. Within this model, the faculty submit the work, and the library ensures that it presents accurately (good metadata) and well (good software design) within an open access repository. In the US, cultural patterns within academia, in addition to an absence of government mandate, typically mean that faculty are not required to contribute their scholarship to open repositories. That’s not to say that faculty are opposed to contributing their publications to an open repository, but rather that most US institution will not place the work of open access implementation on top of their already full teaching and research loads.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published an article exploring the challenges of implementing open access within the United States. Within the University of California system (UC), faculty passed an open access policy three years ago, and UC’s institutional repository has been in place since the vote passed, but yet, only 25 % of UC faculty have contributed their publications. This is not unique to UC, and in fact, its a challenge and concern that emerged repeatedly during the OR2016 conference.


Dartmouth College Library, Tower Room

There are a range of reasons for lack of faculty participation in the open repository, but the major barrier, I think, is that the process of sharing one’s publication with an institutional resource is not currently a part of a scholar’s established publication workflow. It really boils down to lack of time as opposed to lack of interest on the part of faculty, which I find encouraging. Librarians working in open access implementation have the tools and expertise to alleviate the time concerns that faculty may have, and it’s just a matter of marketing those tools and resources to our academic community so that scholars find participation easy.

Many of my colleagues at OR2016 talked about the importance of reaching out to faculty directly to understand their work and ask them to share their publication files for inclusion in an open repository. Self-submission is still an option within most US open repository systems, but we cannot depend on that or expect it as a method for building a scholarly collection. My experience so far: Visiting faculty in their offices, talking about their research, and asking them to share their files for inclusion in our future Dartmouth Academic Common is the most effective method. Faculty with whom I’ve spoken are willing and eager to share their work, but, the process of self-deposit just doesn’t fit into their workload.  We can help with that.

[Open repository work at Dartmouth is transitioning. For the most current information about the status of open repository development for the Dartmouth faculty scholarship, please see:]

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