michael boockHui Zhang BioUniversities have struggled to increase article deposit rates for their institutional repositories. Regardless of citation benefits and top-down mandates, getting faculty to adjust publishing workflows does not happen overnight. At their institution, Michael Boock and Hui Zhang found that direct solicitation of author manuscripts has been the most effective method of reaching a higher deposit rate.

Authors who wish to provide open access (OA) to their scholarly articles have two options: Green OA and Gold OA. Green OA provides access to articles through disciplinary repositories such as arXiv, federal agency repositories such as PubMed Central, or institutional repositories such as ScholarsArchive@OSU. With Gold OA, access is provided to articles published in OA journals or in subscription journals, provided the author pays an OA fee.

Academic libraries support Green OA by establishing and maintaining institutional repositories that disseminate university scholarship in the form of theses and dissertations, conference proceedings, university publications, historical materials, research data, and faculty articles. Libraries do this in order to make research that is largely paid for by taxpayers more widely accessible to the research community and the general public. Faculty who make their research open access benefit from increased readership and impact for those articles; the OA citation advantage has been demonstrated in numerous studies.

green OAImage credit: www.GlynLowe.com (Flickr) CC-BY – modified by LSE Impact Blog

Unfortunately, these benefits alone do not result in Green OA author self-deposit of their articles to repositories. The National Institutes of Health established their first public access policy in 2005 to “make peer-reviewed, final manuscripts stemming from NIH-funded research available to the public free of charge on PubMed Central within 12 months after publication in a scientific journal”. As that policy only encouraged the deposit of articles, it remained largely unheeded until they enacted a stronger policy that requires deposit in 2008. The deposit rate stood at 7% for the period of 2005-2007 and increased to 75% by March 2012.

Universities have been unwilling to hold faculty accountable for depositing articles to institutional repositories, and have struggled to increase article deposit rates among their faculty. Even though OA policies passed at universities around the world often require article deposit to their respective institutional repositories, unlike the NIH policy these policies are generally not enforced. Deposit rates at the institutions vary widely. Faculty remain free to ignore the institutional OA policies. Most do.

Academic libraries are usually charged with policy implementation at OA policy institutions. A variety of methods for increasing article rates of deposit are used. Most often they focus on advocacy and education about the value of OA. Libraries continue to seek a reliable and practical solution for increasing article deposit rates.  In our recent Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication study “It Takes More Than a Mandate”, we found that direct solicitation of author manuscripts has been the most effective method of reaching a higher rate of article deposit at our university. In January 2012, OSU Libraries initiated a process to identify newly published OSU faculty research articles using Web of Science RSS feeds. Library staff then request and deposit faculty articles into the university’s institutional repository.

As illustrated in Table 1, the percentage of OSU faculty authored articles available in the institutional repository soared to 45% one year after the article solicitation project began, compared to a rate of 12% the year before the project began.

Table 1. Direct Solicitation Impact on Number of Articles Deposited in IR

zhang table 1

Articles in IR: number of open access articles in IR
Articles total: total number of articles published by faculty and indexed in Web of Science

OSU faculty established an OA policy in order to increase the percentage of faculty-authored articles that are open access in the institutional repository. The policy has not yet had this effect.

Table 2. OA Mandate Impact on Number of Articles Deposited in IR

zhang table 2

Article in IR: number of open access articles in IR,
Article total: total number of articles published by faculty and indexed in Web of Science

As illustrated in Table 2, there has actually been a slight decline in the rate of deposit in the year since the policy passed.

In addition to the solicitation of recently published articles from faculty, OSU has attempted to supply value-added services to increase article deposit rates. The library interviewed 23 faculty in early 2015 to determine what repository features would motivate them to deposit their articles. The provision of reliable and comprehensive use statistics was deemed most important. Although major repository platforms such as DSpace and Hydra offer usage statistics, authors and college administrators demand broader measures of research impact. For instance, providing article-level use metrics to repositories such as Altmetrics may make Green OA article deposit more appealing to authors. This type of article-level use metric can demonstrate the timelier and broader impact of research in comparison with standard journal based metrics such as journal impact factor.

OSU’s OA policy, like the other institutional OA policies in the United States, is not a true mandate. Most, if not all, of the policies allow for authors to get a policy waiver. No institutional policy to our knowledge is being enforced, and even those faculty who are aware of the policies are free to ignore them. Adoption of a Liege model that requires green OA in order for articles to be considered for promotion and tenure appears to be a long way off, at least in the U.S. Indeed, this type of policy is not even mentioned as a policy model in the “Good Practices for Open Access Policies” document. Until more federal agency and national policies are in place that require open access to articles funded by grants, or institutional policies are in place that require article deposit for promotion and tenure, institutional OA policies may only be as effective as the library mediated processes that are put in place to identify and solicit articles from faculty. Libraries should implement such processes to ensure the greatest possible dissemination of the research of their universities.

The OSU mediated deposit service has had the most success in making faculty articles available OA through the institutional repository. In addition, and in recognition that authors are not likely to suddenly make self-deposit of their articles a part of their own publishing workflows, at least not until funding agencies or university promotion and tenure committees require it, OSU is implementing additional services such as article deposit to federal agencies that provide added value to faculty. Such services are intended to serve faculty and university needs in the areas of funding compliance and promotion of research.

This post is based on the journal article “It Takes More Than a Mandate” by Hui Zhang, Michael Boock and Andrea Wirth (2015) which appeared in the recent issue of the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication. The article has also been self-archived on the ScholarsArchive@OSU here.

Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of the Impact of Social Science blog, nor of the London School of Economics. Please review our Comments Policy if you have any concerns on posting a comment below.

About the Authors

Michael Boock is Associate Professor/Head of the Center for Digital Scholarship and Services at Oregon State University Libraries & Press. His professional and research interests include scholarly communication, digital library organization, digital library workflow, open access policy implementation, and library data services. 

Hui Zhang is assistant professor and digital application librarian at Oregon State University Libraries. He is the primary developer of ScholarsArchive, Oregon State’ institutional repository and has worked on various projects on issues of open access, altmetrics, and linked data. Meet him at: ORCID and github.

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