As part of an initiative to promote scholarship and open access to information, the University is joining the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity, according to a press release distributed yesterday.

The Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity is a group of universities and research centers committed to providing more effective and economical methods of publishing journals.

By joining the effort, the University makes a commitment to pay the publishing fees for articles written by its faculty to be published on open-access journals — free online journals that can be accessed by all users. The new program will be run and funded by the University Library.

The COPE solution — a result of ongoing discussions within the academic community — was developed by Stuart Schieber, professor and faculty director for the Office of Scholarly Communication at Harvard University.

Other university members of COPE include Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California at Berkeley, University of Ottawa and Columbia University.

In the press release, University Provost Phillip Hanlon said the new approach aims to improve both how the University attains and releases information.

“Ultimately, it can both reduce our own costs for journal acquisition and can help ensure that the work of our faculty is disseminated as broadly as possible,” he said.

All University faculty, post-doctoral researchers, graduate and professional students, staff members and students are eligible to apply for funding, with up to $3,000 in subsidies available.

The University is specifically interested in funding authors who retain publishing rights for their work. Authors who do not retain their copyrights are subject to a decrease in the funding they are awarded.

The program has been implanted on a trial basis, and it will be evaluated after a two-year period, according to the press release.

According to the University Library website, open-access publishing increases how often students visit electronic sources. It is estimated that open-access articles are twice as likely to be downloaded than non-open-access articles.

Maria Bonn, associate librarian for University Publishing, said the initiative would also help sustain electronic sources by making sure they remain secure and intact.

“If it’s publicly owned and if it’s broadly used, it’s more likely to be maintained,” she said. “The worst thing for an electronic resource is for nobody to ever look at it.”

In the press release, Dean of Libraries Paul Courant said the program will be effective if it successfully shifts the economics of scholarship and attracts users.

“Our goal is to provide the broadest possible access to the scholarly record and join our colleagues in an important effort to examine new economic models for scholarly publishing,” he said.

Bonn said that signing on to COPE is one part of a larger effort to promote open access to resources.

“The library is hoping to support open access in many forms,” she said. “We have a lot of other programs and initiatives to help our scholars learn about and take advantage of open access, but this is an important part of our strategy.”

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