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Scholars and Scholarship

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Catalyzing Collective Efforts to Achieve Enduring and Barrier-free Access to Information

Our priority is to align library strategy, staffing, and spending to advance the principles and practices of open scholarship. Through collective action we work to increase the amount of high-quality scholarship that is openly available, to position our members to lead on “open science by design” within their own institutions, and to provide leadership on high-impact collective collections initiatives. Much of this work is done in partnership—ranging from individual libraries, peer associations, and disciplinary communities. 

Advancing the principles and practices of open scholarship

Open science by design is a strategy to remove barriers and move toward widespread open access to scientific data, research, and publications. It is based on the principle that research conducted openly and transparently leads to better science as well as more equitable access to knowledge. ARL hosted and participated in several additional events to promote barrier-free access to information:

  • With the California Digital Library, Association of American Universities (AAU), and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), ARL hosted a National Science Foundation (NSF)–funded conference on “Implementing Effective Data Practices” to promote open science. In 2020, we will continue to work with AAU and APLU to advance public access to data.
  • ARL hosted a webinar for members about the University of California (UC)-Elsevier journals contract negotiations.
  • As part of an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) sub-award from James Madison University, we hosted focus groups for the OA in the Open project.
  • ARL participated in an NSF-funded workshop on “Open and FAIR Data: Meeting of Societies” at the American Geophysical Union and participated in a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) workshop on digital infrastructure sustainability. 
  • We are part of a small, ad hoc group of stakeholders, including professional associations, scholarly societies, federal agencies, publishers, and registries, that meets in DC to exchange information and advance public access to publicly funded research.

The Association partnered nationally and internationally to inform open science practice. To shape the principles and inform the implementation of Plan S, ARL organized a meeting of member representatives with Plan S architect David Sweeney early in 2019. Plan S is an initiative to make full and immediate open access a reality. The initiative is supported by an international consortium of research funders. In the fall of 2019, with the International Alliance of Research Library Associations (IARLA), ARL endorsed the Plan S objectives, and provided comments on its implementation, resulting in a visible role for the international research library community as a key stakeholder in Plan S. ARL presented at the Research Libraries UK (RLUK) international symposium on digital scholarship, resulting in ARL-RLUK collaboration in the Digital Scholarship Institute and the ARL Position Description Bank. 

Increasing the amount of high-quality scholarship that is openly available 

The Association is committed to advancing open monographs as part of a movement to sustain the infrastructure of academy-based humanities and social sciences publishing. AAU, ARL, and the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) launched openmonographs.org to flip the funding model for university publishing. The new website for the joint initiative TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem) will facilitate building a community of scholars, publishers, librarians, and university administrators that increases access to humanities and social sciences scholarship. In 2019, the number of TOME-funded books grew from 5 to 28, and there are more than 30 additional books in progress.

AAU, ARL, and AUPresses convened the third annual TOME meeting in Washington, DC, in July. The group agreed to highlight TOME’s connection to the larger conversation around sustainable scholarly infrastructure, including lowering the financial and time commitment for participating in TOME. For more information on the TOME meeting, please see the full report.

ARL and AUPresses hosted the third meeting of press and library directors with reporting relationships (P2L3) in Detroit, Michigan, in June. The P2L3 theme was “a world not dependent on sales.” Participants focused on the unique strength of the P2L community to sustain open access monograph publishing, given the organizational and operational alignment between the library and the press. P2L builds institutional capacity by sharing and combining staff for such activities as copyright consultations, outreach and advocacy, and implementation of open scholarship practices. The P2L community is well positioned to create standards and best practices around digital scholarship, including peer review, publication, and presentation. For more information on the P2L3 meeting, read the full report and view presentation slides. The P2L partners are planning a P2L4 meeting (date and location to be determined) on the theme of diversity, equity, and inclusion in scholarly communication and publishing.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Astronomical Society (AAS), American Geophysical Union (AGU), American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), American Society for Microbiology (ASM), and BioOne participated in the ARL-hosted exploratory meeting of library directors and STEM society leaders in November. This meeting resulted in the formation of a working group to identify potential collaborations in advancing research dissemination and long-term access.

Additionally, Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) invited ARL to present at the ESIP Winter Meeting in Bethesda, Maryland, in January 2020.

Statements and publications to advance barrier-free access to information

ARL issued or endorsed several statements promoting barrier-free access to information: a statement supporting University of California’s termination of its systemwide Elsevier journals contract, a statement supporting MIT’s Open Access Framework for Publisher Contracts, an endorsement of the COAR/SPARC Good Practice Principles for Scholarly Communication Services, and an endorsement of Invest in Open Infrastructure

ARL wrote a Policy Notes blog post on the UC-Elsevier negotiations and Plan S, focused on paying for publication as part of the cost of doing research. We released Research Library Issues no. 298 on the critical role and participation of libraries and librarians in supporting the data science revolution at research universities. And we published a white paper from the IMLS-funded Supporting OA Collections in the Open project documenting a series of conversations with librarians with diverse backgrounds regarding their experiences and attitudes towards financially supporting open access content.

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