The University of California Office of Scholarly Communication recently launched its eScholarship postprints service, allowing the public free access to peer-reviewed articles written by UC faculty.
Catherine Candee, director of publishing and strategic initiatives at the OSC, explained three ways that the OSC attempts to improve and change the system of scholarly communication.
‘One way is by working with faculty to try to implement and change the way copyright is managed,’ Candee said. ‘The second way is to work with the library to make informed purchases. The third is to provide alternative publishing platforms and services.’
The postprints service is an addition to the already existing eScholarship repository launched in 2002, which contains working papers, technical papers, professional reports, journals and monographs.
Candee built and developed the repository and the postprints service in hopes that it will help fulfill the mission of the OSC.
‘The postprints service is a nice concentration on those aims in that there is an immediate aim of encouraging scholars to have direct control over their scholarly output,’ Candee said. ‘They’re reclaiming it and we’re taking content that is generally unavailable to most of the world and making it widely available.’
Candee also explained that the postprints service rose out of faculty concerns with the increasing costs of publishing at the UC negotiations with certain publishers last year.
‘When the negotiations focused faculty attention on the outrageous prices that [publishers] are charging for materials and because we are able to afford a shrinking percentage of them, we cannot get access to badly needed research,’ Candee said. ‘It really animated faculty. It angered them and motivated them in a way they have never been before.’
George Blumenthal, chair of the UC systemwide academic senate, expressed the increasing support of electronic publishing.
‘UC faculty and the [academic] senate have been extremely supportive of electronic publishing, particularly of journals and eScholarship, largely because of concerns that the cost of journals, of printed journals and even commercial electronic journals, has been rising almost exponentially,’ Blumenthal said.
According to Candee, the cost of developing the postprints service was miniscule compared to publishing fees.
‘We’ve spent less than $20,000 on research and development for the service, but that is because the [eScholarship repository] is already in place,’ Candee said. ‘Compared to the more than $20 million UC spends on serials [publications], the development and operational costs of the repository are relatively minor.’
William R. Schonfeld, professor of political science and the director of the Center for the Study of Democracy at UC Irvine, explained that the CSD has been depositing to the repository for a few years now.
Because of the repository, the research that CSD has done circulates easily and quickly.
‘The eScholarship repository has been an invaluable vehicle for sharing findings from our center faculty and graduate fellows with a wide international audience,’ Schonfeld said. ‘After we joined the eScholarship repository, we have seen the readership of our paper series double each year.’
Schonfeld also explained that the postprints service will allow people to see research more quickly.
‘There can be a delay of more than a year between the time that a professional journal says, ‘We will publish your article’ and the time that they actually publish it,’ Schonfeld said. ‘This technology allows during that period of time, a person to share that work with other people in a very easy way.’
The only issue that has been raised regarding the postprints service is the issue of plagiarism, but Candee does not feel that it outweighs the benefits of sharing information.
‘There’s always the concern that ideas can be stolen and it’s easier when everything is up on the Web, but that problem has always existed,’ Candee said.
The outlook for where the postprints service will lead are optimistic.
‘We think that the university is a source of knowledge that should be shared with society and by unfettering the access to all this, it will lead to a more vibrant, intellectual community and a more vibrant state for the society and economy,’ Candee said.
Blumenthal believes that the postprints service will become an establishment adopted by institutions of research, especially publicly funded research.
‘As time goes on, there’s going to be a growing culture where it will be mandatory that research that is paid for by taxpayers should be available free to taxpayers,’ Blumenthal said.
Jerome Anaya, third-year criminology, law and society major, believes that the postprints service will be beneficial for students.
‘I think it’s a great idea to allow free access to journals, especially for students who need to do research projects and papers,’ Anaya said.
To access the service, go to: http://repositories.cdlib.org/escholarship.