A Newly Revised Open Access Commitment by Librarians and Archivists at USask

April 26, 2021
A Newly Revised Open Access Commitment by Librarians and Archivists at USask

Alongside this year’s Scholarly Communications SkillShare event happening on Thursday, we invited contributions to our blog over April and May to hear more about what is happening at libraries in Western Canada. The first of these entries is below.

Guest post by DeDe Dawson
Associate Librarian for Science and Scholarly Communication
University Library, University of Saskatchewan

In 2010, librarians and archivists at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) adopted our first official commitment to making our research publications as openly available as possible. This was just after we had officially launched our institutional repository, eCommons, and we believed that we should model the way for our colleagues in other disciplines at USask. By making a public statement of the importance of open access (OA) to research in general and our commitment to depositing our own papers openly in eCommons or other OA venues we hoped to lead by example.

In the decade since making our first OA commitment much has changed in both scholarly communication and locally at USask, including a turnover in the collegium and a newly branded and launched repository called HARVEST. We decided it was time to revise the language in our Commitment to reflect these new realities. A small group of librarians drafted revisions and shared them with colleagues for comment and discussion through email, Teams chats, and virtual meetings. After several rounds of revisions, we arrived at a much more robust and nuanced statement than our original one from 2010!

The main additions include:

  • A broader understanding of the importance of making other products of research throughout the research lifecycle open (i.e. beyond just the final publication). This open science, or open scholarship, approach could include preregistering and posting research plans and protocols, as well as sharing research instruments and the data underlying the research projects.
  • A growing awareness that librarians have a professional obligation to call out unsustainable pricing practices in the conventional subscription journal market and promote more ethical and equitable open access venues. This aspect of the revisions prompted the most discussion and debate among librarians to arrive at wording that is acceptable for all.
  • A section on other actions librarians can take to advance open access more broadly such as advocating for OA in our roles as editors, reviewers, and authors; encouraging and supporting fellow USask researchers to also make their research products OA; and collaborating with publishers to develop more sustainable open publishing models.
  • A short statement acknowledging that cultural, ethical, and privacy considerations may mean that not all research outputs are appropriate to share openly.

Our new Open Access Commitment was officially adopted by librarians and archivists at USask in December 2020.