What do researchers in the health sciences really think about open access?

IUPUI’s Faculty Council passed an Open Access Policy on October 7th, 2014, just two weeks before I started my position here at University Library. I was hired as a health sciences librarian, and was told when I arrived that the Library wanted to pilot the OA Policy in one of my liaison areas, the School of Nursing.

Not having a background in scholarly communications, the task was initially daunting. I felt out of my league, and I was often worried about saying the wrong thing to faculty. After all, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. My fears quickly proved to be unfounded, however, as my first meeting with the School of Nursing faculty allowed me to include open access as part of my suite of services. I shared the perks of participating in our policy, namely increased citation counts and wider readership. This gave me an opportunity to explain the background of the policy, answer any questions they might have, and let them know that many of them would be receiving an email from me in the near future asking for their manuscripts.

As a result, I got very little push back when it came time to send those emails. My first round in Spring 2015 saw 33 requests for the faculty, with 10 deposited manuscripts, 8 opted-out, and the remaining 15 never responded. My response rate was just over 50%, and although a few people wanted more information on copyright concerns, I didn’t receive a single angry email. I was thrilled by the results!

As we have continued asking for manuscripts, interest and understanding of the policy has increased. I had the opportunity to present with several co-workers on our open access successes at the 2016 annual Medical Library Association conference in Toronto, Canada. I feel these presentations were particularly valuable for librarians who work in the health sciences to hear, as there often seems to be a misconception in our subject areas that faculty aren’t even willing to discuss open access. In my experience, I haven’t found that to be true.

My biggest champions in the department are the junior faculty who want increased citations for promotion and tenure, and having them be excited and engaged with the policy has translated into more participation. This has made my job so much easier, and I highly encourage anyone interested in beginning these conversations to start with the newer hires.

Feel free to contact me at caiapike@iupui.edu if you would like more details.


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