What University Leaders Can Do to Promote Open and How Librarians Might Help

This post is part of a series on highlights and key takeaways from the 2016 SPARC MORE Meeting.

Danny Anderson, President of Trinity University in San Antonio, shared his advice on leadership in promoting openness on campus. He provided 6 specific actions that campus leaders can take today to help create positive change on campus:

  1. Leaders can advocate for openness.Think about reshaping the current model. “We are the ones that wrote the rules that we feel constrain us so much,” said Anderson. “We can rewrite those rules and we change that system.”There is an opportunity for provosts and presidents to be new partners in Open Access as they are called upon to make higher education more affordable and accountable. “A university leader can advocate for meaningful change and effective solutions to scarce resources through the support of openness,” said Anderson.
  2. Leaders can act role models for the faculty.“Rather than playing the role of a policy enforcer, making sure everyone else’s materials are available, we have to be the ones to take the lead make sure our scholarship is there first,” said Anderson.Identify a core group of change agents, and focus on engaging the right people. For instance, find a department that wants to be the first recognized because every member had his or her work in the repository.

    These actions can signal clearly to a campus that Open Access is important, allay fears and show that open does not create a risk for tenure and promotion. Faculty members need to hear this message from those who make tenure and promotion decisions and from leaders who have their own works accessible in the institutional repository, says Anderson.

    Some faculty members fear the loss of their jobs and reputations. OA policies may appear to be career threatening. Anderson says leaders can demonstrate there are many ways to be open and not harm one’s career.

  3. Leaders can acknowledge successes.Working with the library, Anderson said faculty who have developed pages that link their research to the institutional repository have reported higher citation rates and more downloads. “They have a sense that their work really has an impact in the world,” said Anderson. As a president, Anderson said he looks for ways to talk back to his campus about success he sees with faculty using the institutional repository.
  4. Leaders can address fears.Some faculty members think publishing anywhere but a top-tier journal will result in their academic death. Others claim open-access journals are fronts for predatory publishing and question why openness places the financial burden on the professor.Anderson said librarians cannot reassure faculty away from these perceptions, but university leaders can begin to address their fears by supporting experimentation models without pushing the pioneers. For example, a vice president for academic affairs can guide discussions that allow faculty to express their worries.

    “By listening and understanding the source of concerns, safeguards and reassurances can be established,” said Anderson. “University leaders can refer to materials found in the institutional repository in their speeches and communications to the campus, trustees and alumni. We can mention in conversations with peer administrators at other institutions.”

  5. Leaders can analyze data.They can use information from the institutional repository to brag about projects and showcase where research has been downloaded around the world.
  6. Leaders can articulate messages that can be used to influence others.As university we have the ability to advocate to transition to new models, to make them less risky,” said Anderson. “Change is constant in higher education…why not create an environment where some changes are less threatening.” For instance, a university leader can participate in ventures and initiatives that provoke and experiment with new publication models.

Takeaways for librarians to help lead their leaders on the open path:

  1. Think about the challenges new leaders on your campus face and pick out places they can immediately become an advocate or act in a way where they can serve as a role model for openness.
  2. Consider what a leader can do to help faculty feel more supported and less threatened by the new models. Look around your campus to identify some stories or specific examples that could help address fears on your campus.
  3. Help leaders have conservations about ways to have faculty reward systems to try to tip the balance in favor of openness. Provide information to craft a compelling message to the campus community, using data from faculty members who have embraced open-access publishing and show who that might be a part of their success on the path to promotion and tenure.
  4. Identify ways your institution’s reputation can be strengthened by support for Open Access.
  5. Find out why faculty members don’t their work in the institutional repository, through a survey, to learn about the obstacles so they can be removed.

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