Faculty research shared through OpenEmory reaches milestones

Robert W. Woodruff Library | Oct. 21, 2013

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Stewart Varner,  the digital scholarship coordinator at Robert W. Woodruff Library, works in the Digital Scholarship Commons where he helps scholars incorporate technology into their research.

OpenEmory, the open access repository for faculty-authored published research articles at Emory University, celebrated its one-year anniversary in September, and as of Oct. 3, surpassed 1,800 articles uploaded to the site and has logged 9,912 article downloads.  

With the internationally celebrated Open Access Week coming Oct. 21-27, the staff of OpenEmory has a roster of speakers, panels and other events that will examine the benefits, effects and issues that occur with open access.  

OpenEmory is a service of Emory Library and Information Technology Services (LITS). The library’s Scholarly Communications Office, under the leadership of director Lisa Macklin and located in the Robert W. Woodruff Library, manages the repository.  

Open access is the practice of providing unrestricted access to scholarship published online. The international movement gained tremendous momentum in the United States in 2008 when the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy went into effect, some eight years after the launch of PubMed Central, a free database of life sciences research articles.  

Emory University adopted its open access policy in 2011 to encourage faculty to share their published journal articles and provide a university-based repository. In February 2013, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a directive that all federal agencies with research funding over $100 million must develop plans to make any peer-reviewed articles and digital data sets resulting from this federal funding open, available and accessible to the public.  

Why use OpenEmory?  

Macklin says OpenEmory provides several benefits, not the least of which is helping faculty reach new audiences.  

“It’s a way for faculty to make their articles available, findable and accessible to anyone in the world; therefore, it can help them build their reputation,” Macklin says. “They can and should publish in whatever journal they choose, and depending on publisher policy, can put a version of the article in OpenEmory. Their articles are then much more widely available than a subscription journal, and maybe cited more often.”  

As more content is available in OpenEmory, it becomes a useful tool for faculty and graduate students to identify others at Emory who are working either in similar areas or in areas they’re interested in.  

“It’s a way to showcase our research and build community at Emory that we don’t really have other forums for,” Macklin says.  

It also supports the underlying mission of the university, which is to generate new knowledge, while also preserving the scholarship for the long term. OpenEmory tracks views and downloads of each article, so faculty who have articles in OpenEmory have data on how frequently their research is accessed. Each article also has a permanent URL which faculty can easily email to colleagues or link to on websites.  

Supporting faculty without adding to workloads  

For articles that resulted from National Institutes of Health funding and fall under the NIH Public Access Policy, faculty don’t need to do anything. Those articles are identified and added to OpenEmory by the staff. For other articles, the only thing faculty need to do to get started using OpenEmory is to send a list of published articles (such as a CV, website link, or file from Google Scholar) to OpenEmory staff. Staff will review the list and determine the publisher policy for each article.  

Faculty members don’t have to upload the articles themselves—the OpenEmory staff do that for them, with the faculty member’s permission. If the publisher won’t allow the final published version to be deposited, the staff will ask the faculty member if they have previous versions of the article they would like to make available in OpenEmory.  

But that’s one of the challenges OpenEmory faces, Macklin says: If it’s an article they published some time ago, faculty often don’t have anything other than the final published version to submit, and many journal publishers—certainly subscription-based ones—don't permit the published version of articles to be republished. Considering submission of an article to OpenEmory close to the time of publication can make the process easier.  

To encourage publishing in open access journals, OpenEmory also has set up the Open Access Publishing Fund, available to current faculty and students, which covers article processing fees when no other funds are available. To date, the fund has helped Emory researchers publish seven articles in open access journals.  

With almost 10,000 article downloads from the site, the OpenEmory repository seems to be doing well, but Macklin would like to see more Emory faculty contact the staff to deposit their published articles.  

“We’re trying to create a long-term resource, and part of that is collecting the intellectual output of Emory as well as preserving it,” she says. “We need to build more awareness that OpenEmory is available and how faculty can benefit from using it.”