Monday, April 15, 2013

Open-acess and The Cupola

I am currently working to develop The Cupola, Gettysburg College’s open-access compliant institutional repository. That’s a mouthful! What, exactly, is an open-access compliant institutional repository? Since I’m a philosophy student at heart, I’ll engage in a little bit of conceptual analysis and explain what each of these constituent terms mean.

An institutional repository is a place where an institution—in this case, Gettysburg College—can store and preserving the research created by its members. The Cupola stores research by faculty, but also students.

What does it mean that our institutional repository is open-access compliant?

As Peter Suber notes on his excellent website about open-access, a primary goal of open-access is to remove both “price barriers” and “permission barriers”. That means not only that open-access materials are free to download and distribute, but also that they are free to be built upon by other scholars. The Cupola aims to make the College's research available to the online community, for the purpose of contributing to the work of others and providing a foundation for future research.

My responsibilities have included researching publishers’ copyright and self-archiving policies to determine whether we can include faculty research in The Cupola, and if so, in what form. For example, Prof. Steve Gimbel’s paper in Evolution: Education and Outreach is open-access, so we can include it without too much trouble.

Open-access is evolving, so it can be difficult to figure out whether a journal or publisher allows us to deposit the publisher's version of an article (the version of record) in a repository or not. Accordingly, part of my job is communicating with publishers and editors to ask for permission. I have been in contact with editors from different journals. It has been interesting learning about the different kinds of permission and different versions of a piece of research.

I've enjoyed working on The Cupola because it's easy to see the results of my work. I can go to The Cupola's website and see articles that I uploaded. I look forward to continuing this work in the future.