On March 31, Florida Gulf Coast University’s (FGCU) Faculty Senate passed an Open Access policy! The Open Access Archiving Policy ensures that future scholarly articles authored by FGCU faculty will be made freely available to the public by requiring faculty to deposit copies of their accepted manuscripts in the university’s repository, DigitalFGCU.
As Scholarly Communication Librarian, I worked with my supervisor, library administration, the university’s Provost, and Faculty Senate to write and pass the policy. Typically in the United States, Open Access policies are passed through the Faculty Senate as a faculty level policy rather than a “university policy” that requires a different approval process. Policies are usually proposed to a Faculty Senate team or committee, such as Faculty Affairs, and then proceeds to Faculty Senate for voting.
Although each institution will be different, in this blog post I’ll share some of the key decisions and learnings that allowed our team at FGCU to pass an Open Access Policy quickly.
How do we message this to a campus new to Open Access? We decided to tweak the name to “Open Access Archiving Policy” to emphasize archiving and to further communicate that the policy does not affect where an author chooses to publish.
What’s our timeline? There’s no wrong or right timeline to pass an Open Access policy. For some universities, passing an Open Access policy is a result of years of campus advocacy, but we jumped in and passed a policy in just six months. Passing a policy quickly may not be the right decision for your campus. We chose to take the leap because we are launching our institutional repository in the summer and wanted to give it the strongest start possible. FGCU is a young, public university about to celebrate its 20th birthday, and we built off lessons learned from other institutions to create a stronger repository and a successful policy.
When does it take effect? Most Open Access policies go into effect immediately, but we opted for the policy to take effect August 1, 2017 when the institutional repository was launched and to prepare the faculty for the new policy at a slower time of the academic year.
Creating a policy site
I highly recommend creating an informational policy site when you’re proposing your policy. A website can help you communicate with Faculty Senate how the policy will work in reality, how easy it is to participate or opt-out, and helps put a friendly face on the policy language.
I worked with our Web Development & Design Librarian to create a site heavily inspired by Open Access @ FSU (thanks, Florida State!). I sent individual emails to Faculty Senators inviting them to look at the website and share it with their colleagues. The Open Access Archiving Policy site was vital to passing the policy: it made it easy to understand how the policy would work in practice.
Policies can be intimidating, and copyright legalese especially so. I wanted to make sure we messaged the policy for what it is: an exciting opportunity to make our public university’s research accessible to the public and increase the impact of our research. I started off my pitch to Faculty Senate with this introduction:
Hi, everyone. I’m Chealsye Bowley, FGCU’s Scholarly Communication Librarian. I’m here today to propose the Open Access Archiving Policy, a faculty policy that would provide public access to FGCU authored research. But first I have a couple questions for you all. By a show of hands - how many of you want more readers for your research? How many of you want more citations for your research? Okay, great. And finally, have you ever been asked to pay for a journal article because FGCU did not have a subscription? Thank you. The Policy is designed to help with all of that.
How can any researcher say no to more readers and citations? This friendly introduction at Faculty Senate shifted the framing to the faculty benefits and I think it helped engaged Faculty Senators in what are long Friday morning meetings.
Tips and Advice
Ensure that the policy is the best thing for faculty members - not just for you/the Library. Make it as simple as possible to participate and opt-out, if that’s an option.
Find Faculty advocates for the policy.
Be friendly! Get faculty excited about the policy and kindly address their concerns.
Be willing to adapt. We originally had a simple opt-out option that granted automatic waivers on an article by article basis, but after feedback from a few faculty members who were opposed to article opt-out we offered a blanket waiver option that a faculty member would just have to fill out once.
Never assume that a faculty member will embrace an Open Access Policy simply because of their field or their use of Open Educational Resources. Surprisingly, the faculty members who opposed the policy came from disciplines that have historically embraced Open Access and who used openly licensed materials in their classes.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel! If something worked at another university and you liked it, give it a try.