Working from the Grassroots: Best Practices in Campus Scholarly Communication Programs

On the surface scholarly communication is not the sexiest of topics. However, I think the topic is very important for all librarians to understand and advocate. The panel was comprised of past participants of the the ACRL/ARL Institute for Scholar Communications: John Ober (CDL), Teresa Fishel (Macalester), Carolyn Mills (UConn), and John Saylor (Cornell). 

Teresa began by sharing her small private college perspective. Her plan of attack was to meet with faculty for one on one conversations. She also developed a "soundbyte" to use when having an informal discussion with faculty members. She gave a 30 minute presentation during a faculty training day. Her overall impressions are that her faculty are aware of the problem and have a better understanding of their options.

John spoke next about some of Cornell's activities. He viewed the environmental scan as key to firmly understanding what is and is not happening at the local level. They determined who was actively publishing, who was producing large data sets that needed to be maintained, and who was serving on editorial boards. The information collected is used to help support decision making and keep the administration informed on what is going on. They discovered that their German studies program was having a difficult time getting monographs published in print. An audience member shared a similar situation at Penn State with their Romance Languages department. Both groups are now publishing this specialized content in their institutional repositories. This lead to discussion about how scholarly communications means different things to different disciplines.

Carolyn from UConn spoke next about their program. UConn has an institutional committee for scholarly communication. She has found that it's hard to educate faculty during large meetings. She suggested that small groups and one on one works best. Subject liaisons are being used as the main point of contact with the academic departments to discuss this topic. Carolyn experienced some hesitation/push back from some of the librarians because they didn't feel comfortable talking about all aspects of scholarly communication, especially the fine points of copyright. She developed PowerPoint slides that the librarians could use with faculty. Educating/outreach to faculty on scholarly communication is being written into new hire job descriptions. Some faculty concerns include: idea theft and citation challenges (how do you cite pre-print). She shared a copy of an author's rights brochure (based on brochure developed by Ohio State) that is being distributed to all faculty. Carolyn also referred us to the Boston Library Consortium's Agreement to Extend Author's Rights. All UConn faculty are encouraged to use this amendment when publishing. 

John spoke briefly about an updated survey of faculty attitude's towards scholarly communication. The data collection is focused on perceptions of nontenured, newly tenured, and tenured faculty. The updated data will be included in their environmental scan and used to craft difference messages to the different groups.

The following topics were discussed during the Q&A time.

Younger Faculty: They grew up with the Internet. They are more collaborative. They are open to change and willing to try new models for publication. There is still the challenge of promotion and tenure requirements that have very prescriptive requirements for publishing. Many felt that this is slowly changing on their campuses.

Purdue: Major challenges are data set management. Many faculty are now indicating that they are going to bypass traditional journals and share findings directly with colleagues. Some departments are encouraging that their faculty only publisher in OA titles. Many younger faculty only want to publish in OA titles. The scholar communication program begins with data generation in original research. 

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