The University Libraries will be hosting a virtual Open Access Week Oct. 19-23 with events featuring topics on open access, open educational resources, and open data including the role of open access in faculty recruitment, promotion, and tenure processes.

Virginia Tech library faculty and staff are passionate about providing access and sharing knowledge in a sustainable and equitable manner. The planning committee Alex Kinnaman, Kayla McNabb, Rachel Miles, and Anita Walz created a virtual experience to celebrate and promote sharing knowledge, data and educational materials openly. 

“We use Open Access (OA) Week to encourage people to think about the kind of scholarly communication system we want to have,” said University Libraries Director of Publishing Services Peter Potter. “Not only is the current system unsustainable, it is inequitable. OA Week gives us a chance to spotlight this fact while considering what a more sustainable, and equitable system might look like.”

Interested faculty and community members are encouraged to learn more about OA Week and register for some or all of the events.

On Monday, Oct. 19, from 6-8 p.m., the panel presentation “Connecting the Opens: open access, open educational resources, and open data” will be a brief introduction to open access and its benefits and controversies, followed by a discussion about how the University Libraries and faculty across campus collaborate in creating and promoting openly and freely available research and educational materials. 

“Making research and data freely accessible, without subscription paywalls, can lead to better research practices all around, such as addressing the science reproducibility crisis through incentives to share data openly,” said Rachel Miles, University Libraries research impact librarian and OA Week organizer. “We hope that faculty will gain a better understanding of how the current system of scholarly communication works and why we believe that open access needs to be a central component of any future system.”  

On Tuesday, Oct. 20, from 10-11:30 a.m., keynote speaker Elizabeth Gadd, research policy manager at Loughborough University, United Kingdom, will present “Counting what counts in recruitment, promotion, and tenure.” Gadd chairs the INORMS Research Evaluation Working Group, the ARMA Research Evaluation SIG and the LIS-Bibliometrics Forum. She founded the Bibliomagician Blog and was the recipient of the 2020 INORMS Award for Excellence in Research Management Leadership.

Gadd’s keynote will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by University Libraries Dean Tyler Walters and featuring panelists Thomas Ewing, associate dean for graduate studies and research and professor of history; Carla Finkielstein, associate professor of biological sciences; Bikrum Gill, assistant professor of political science; and Sylvester Johnson, professor and director of the Center for Humanities at Virginia Tech. 

Currently, 40 percent of review, promotion, and tenure documents in the U.S. and Canada mention the Journal Impact Factor or journal prestige, reputation, or status as a requirement or strong encouragement to publish in such high impact journals.

“From Gadd’s keynote, I hope faculty will understand that there are different ways to structure the current incentive system,” said Miles. “Many of us are stuck in the default mode when it comes to academic incentives. Some are frustrated, and, depending on the unit or department and field, it might affect some more than others. However, it is clear that the system does not treat all scholars equitably and fairly, and therefore, we are all affected. I hope that those who feel powerless, as well as those who aren’t quite convinced this is a real issue, will come away from the event thinking differently about how we approach research evaluation, for everyone’s sakes.”

On Thursday, Oct. 22, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem (TOME) will be hosting its annual stakeholder meeting. TOME brings together scholars, universities, libraries, and presses in pursuit of a common goal—a sustainable open monograph ecosystem. TOME launched in 2018 as a five-year pilot initiative of the Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and Association of University Presses (AUPresses). Peter Potter serves as ARL’s Visiting Program Officer of TOME.

Thanks to TOME, 60 monographs have been published in OA editions, including six by Virginia Tech faculty members. Potter said this year’s TOME meeting will review the progress of the pilot to date while asking the question, “Where do we go from here?”

On Friday, Oct. 23, from 11 a.m.-noon, faculty members can attend part two the 2020-2021 Open Education: Student Success and Faculty Autonomy webinar series hosted by SCHEV’s Open Virginia Advisory Committee. The webinar provides a space for learning and sharing to spark innovation and expand open education in Virginia. The virtual conversations will consist of short lightning talks, which will allow institutions to share their open education efforts and learn from similar efforts around Virginia.

“We hope that current and future faculty, editorial board members, authors, and administrators take the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of issues which drive the open access conversation,” said Anita Walz, University Libraries’ assistant director of open education, scholarly communication librarian and OA Week organizer. “We also hope that they will engage in conversations, share their perspectives - and ultimately make decisions to enable broad access to and use of scholarly works in their disciplines. Monopolies over journals and other works are not just a library issue, but a whole of academia issue.”

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