In one of those coincidental juxtapositions that can make you think, I had also just read Bill Wolff’s article for Inside Higher Ed on making the tenure process more transparent.
I work for a teaching-oriented institution, and have been through the tenure and promotion process there myself. Now, one of the notable aspects of this process at a teaching-oriented institution is that scholarship, research, and creative work tend to be more broadly and flexibly defined than they are at R1s, where I perceive that the peer-reviewed academic article (the higher the impact factor, the better, of course) still rules the roost. It’s not that having an appreciable number of these in your portfolio (or a monograph or two, or both, depending on your discipline) isn’t also good at a teaching-oriented institution, but my point here is that those of us in academia outside of R1s have a bit more flexibility, and that flexibility affords us an opportunity.
Namely, we are arguably in a better position to do the things that David Parry advocates, especially publishing in open-access journals. My first academic publication, “Unclear on the Context: Refocusing on Information Literacy’s Evaluative Component in the Age of Google”, was published in the OA journalLibrary Philosophy & Practice (sidenote: it’s also been cited a dozen times. Would it have been cited so often if it was in a locked-down journal behind a paywall? There’s no way to know, but it’s hard to believe that the article’s easy discoverability and accessibility haven’t worked in its favor). The key, of course, is to do this without sacrificing quality—either of our work, or of the venues in which we publish it.
As a librarian, reading Parry’s article makes me think of what librarians can do, both as professionals and as scholars ourselves, to push for openness in scholarship. Two key courses of action are advising and advocating around issues of copyright, and identifying and highlighting high quality OA journals across the disciplines. In academic institutions, especially smaller ones, libraries are already the go-to source for copyright information, clearances, and fair use assistance. To this we can add Creative Commons licensing advocacy, an important way for academics to maintain control of their work, rather than signing that control over to a publisher.
Secondly, by identifying and highlighting high-quality OA publications, we are in a position to advocate for submitting to them when faculty are seeking publication venues for their work. (And, of course, those of us who are researchers ourselves should publish in OA journals where possible—something made much more feasible now thatCollege & Research Librariesis open access!)
I encourage you to read Parry’s article for yourself. Like him, I believe that openness of access to research is imperative: the physical barriers to ubiquitous distribution of research are essentially gone, and now all that’s left are the commercial ones.