If you want to make long-lasting changes in any organization, you need a culture shift. You need to help people change the way they look at things and go about their daily tasks. Becoming an Open Access-friendly institution definitely falls into this category because you have to get buy-in for your Open Access initiatives from every group involved, from deans, librarians, researchers, and students to the local community.
Sounds overwhelming? It doesn't have to be. In this article, we will explore some easily-manageable Open Access promotion tactics that you can implement to facilitate this cultural shift.
11 Ways to Promote Open Access in Your Institution
According to the Open Access Advocacy organization, SPARC, Open Access is defined as "the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open Access ensures that anyone can access and use these results—to turn ideas into industries and breakthroughs into better lives."
Now, if you want to make your institution more Open Access-friendly, here are a few quick and easily manageable ways you can promote the concept to your community.
1. Reach out and support the local community
Work closely with schools and educational institutions in the vicinity to create Open Educational Resources for the local community. Along with that, your institution can assist local charities, museums, and galleries, in digitizing their archives and making sure the local records and knowledge are safeguarded and available to be accessed publicly.
These engagement activities will help faculty and researchers get a firsthand experience of the impact of Open Access and how it benefits the community.
2. Reward top repository contributors
An Open Access institutional repository can’t be successful without active participation from your faculty and researchers. To encourage participation, you can tap into their competitive spirit and need for recognition by instituting monthly and yearly awards for top contributors.
Recognize members who contributed the most manuscripts, who had the most downloads and citations, among others. This tactic is handy to populate the repository quickly.
3. Publish public statements on journal cancellations
Over the last decade, we have seen high-profile universities, including Harvard and University of California canceling journal subscriptions because they can’t afford them. So, in case your institution is planning to cancel subscriptions, publish a public statement detailing the cost involved and the reasoning behind the decisions.
This ploy should help build awareness about the reality of academic publishing. Plus, you can use it to emphasize your institution’s commitment to Open Access and encourage students and faculty to explore Open Access publishing more in-depth.
4. Create repository training and help resources
To promote your Open Access institutional repository usage, you need to make sure the students and faculty know the ins and outs of your repository solution and your institution’s Open Access policy.
Create help and FAQ documents elaborating the key aspects — the Open Access mandate, how to set up an author profile, how to deposit manuscripts, what formats are allowed, what type of content can be deposited, how to run copyright analysis, how to track citations and downloads, and more.
5. Set up an Open Access publishing fund
Unlike traditional journals, Open Access journals typically charge authors a specific fee for submissions. This fee may stop some faculty and researchers from opting for OA publications. To avoid this situation, the institution can set up a dedicated OA publishing fund and bear the expenses on behalf of the researchers and faculty.
While it could be seen as an additional expenditure, OA journals are freely accessible, and it costs very little for the university library to stock them.
6. Make copyright detection as easy as possible
Faculty and researchers are often reluctant to deposit their manuscripts in institutional repositories because they are unsure about their copyright rights. Moreover, they don’t want to spend their precious time negotiating with the publishers.
What you can do instead is to get a repository solution that supports copyright detection. This way, copyright detection will be part of the deposit workflow. It enables your faculty or staff to find out exactly which version of a manuscript (postprint, preprint, and published) can be made freely available, and they won’t have to worry about copyright violations.
7. Join Open Access advocacy organizations
Join international Open Access advocacy organizations and consortiums such as SPARC and be at the forefront of furthering the Open Agenda. They offer a policy framework to structure your Open Access initiatives.
But that’s not all. They also support member institutions with research insights, best practices, direct campus visits, workshops, webcasts, technical tools for authors, and much more.
8. Make Open Access a part of campus activities
Allow the scholarly communication office to work closely with student and faculty liaisons to ensure Open Access is part of the curriculum and campus activities.
It could be as simple as encouraging students to deposit their thesis PDF to your repository or making it standard practice at the end of every event to announce that all the related resources can be accessed from your repository. Over time, these efforts will help you educate and develop awareness around Open Access and make it a critical part of the daily conversation.
9. Share your repository content online
Sharing repository content through email and social media is another excellent way to reveal the benefits of Open Access to faculty and researchers.
You can send email alerts to community members each time a deposit is published. Alternatively, you can curate the best articles of a week and send them as part of the weekly newsletter. As for social media, simply share links to new deposits with a 2-line summary and relevant hashtags. You can set up a dedicated handle for your repository or merely use your library’s official handle.
10. Assist faculty in their discussions with publishers
The scholarly communication staff should have a liaison officer to help faculty and researchers in their discussions with publishers. The liaison must work closely with faculty and ensure that they always retain the right of postprint archiving.
11. Get distinguished faculty to participate
Faculty and students may not buy into your Open Access initiatives straightaway. There could be many reasons, ranging from trust deficits, time constraints to lack of interest. An easy way to get over this roadblock is to get one or two distinguished faculty members from each department to participate in these Open Access initiatives.
Since most institutions look up to these individuals, getting them to participate will give you the much-needed credibility. It is excellent for gaining word-of-mouth traction too.
Many of these steps become much easier if you have an Open Access Mandate in place. As it typically means, faculty and researchers are duty-bound to make their papers and articles freely available. While it may result in greater participation in your Open Access initiatives, the quality of the participants may be a question mark. It is up to you to decide what suits your institution.
If you are looking for a repository solution to complement your Open Access initiatives, check out Typeset’s University Suite. It gets much easier to run an open access repository when it is hosted on Typeset. With its integrated writing and publishing tools, copyright detection technology, streamlined deposit and approval workflows, including search-friendly indexing, you will be able to manage and showcase your research output seamlessly.