Faculty Senate President-elect Jonathan Sturm wants to have all ISU authors publishing their work for free through Open Access within the next three years.

Within the next year, Sturm plans on pushing through a measure in the Faculty Senate that will be a philosophical guideline. This lays out the groundwork for having authors at Iowa State publish their work, so it is available to anyone for free.

Many academic journals and repositories require readers to pay a fee to access the research and data by authors, blocking many works from reaching audiences that do not have the resources to pay for increasingly expensive journal subscriptions.

“Open Access is a movement that is trying to bring research done on university campuses to a greater ease of public access,” Sturm said.

In academic terms, Open Access refers to a free or very low cost avenue through which a person can gain access to published journal articles and data. For example, the ISU Digital Repository contains more than 4.4 million journal articles published by ISU professors and grad students, accessible at no cost to the reader, said Beth McNeil, dean of Library Services.

“The idea is to get research and data available to people without charge,” Sturm said.

Two levels of Open Access are currently in use at Iowa State. The first level is called Green Open Access and is classified as any source that doesn't require a reader to pay for access. Iowa State’s Digital Repository is considered a Green level, because all it requires for access is an Internet connection.

“The downside of [Green Open Access] is that it is not peer-reviewed,” Sturm said.

The lack of peer review has led to some problems with Open Access. When authors publish an article in a journal or platform that is not peer reviewed, it can be detrimental when they become eligible for promotion or tenure. Even though their work has been published, the platform through which that work is published also counts during their evaluations.

The second level of Open Access is Gold Open Access, which requires the author to pay the publishing platform a fee to have their work placed somewhere it can be accessed for free. These fees can range in the hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Harrison Inefuku, the digital repository coordinator at Iowa State, said the publication fees are sometimes out of reach are out of reach for many authors.

“In some cases, you have to pay a publication fee," Inefuku said. "In libraries, in our field, that can run up to $3,000, which as a librarian, I cannot afford."

Nearly a hundred universities have put forward pledges similar to the one Sturm is proposing for the Faculty Senate at Iowa State, with Pennsylvania State University’s faculty senate passing a resolution in April.

“I’m president-elect this year, president next year and past president after that," Sturm said. "So I have about three years to get something done. I’ve made it clear to the provost that if we can just get the train to leave the station in the next three years, then that’s a good thing."

Sturm has said that so far, the administration has been receptive to getting Iowa State on some sort of Open Access policy, but only if it does not negatively impact faculty or graduate student publications and research.

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