The presentation on Open Access that Jeff Belliston and I had previously prepared was well received yesterday by the assembled deans, the Academic Vice President, and the President of BYU. I was impressed by our Academic Vice President's keen interest in the issues. And while this institution is still a long ways off from something like the Harvard Open Access mandate for our faculty, there is clearly interest and awareness at the top.
We from the Scholarly Communications Committee were asked to prepare a handout for the deans to help them with next steps. The door is now open for bringing in the issues of rights management, and for thinking about Open Access within the context of promotion and tenure. Part of the good news was that a few of the deans present had actually published in Open Access journals, and one dean commented on the advantage of quick turnaround with his electronic scholarship. Open Access is on the map at BYU.
Two concerns were raised. First, the deans do not know how or whether to value Open Access journals since these are new within their fields (They are suspicious of their reliability and authority, even if peer reviewed). The more significant concern expressed related to the changing business model for Open Access publishing. The prospect of fronting up to $3000 for an article to be published as Open Access raised fears of having to provide expensive subventions across the university. At this point Open Access does not appear "resource neutral." We didn't have time to address these concerns except to say that multiple economic and publishing models are evolving. I wish I had brought up the fact that when we investigated how BYU faculty members have been paying for Open Access, it was (for those in the sciences) written into the grant without a problem.
There seemed to be a strong sense that Open Access is coming regardless of worries over financing it and that it is a topic needing to be revisted. Our head librarian offered to have presentations like this one given in the various colleges. I'm planning on revising the presentation and gearing it toward the humanities, my own discipline, in case our dean wants to make use of it.
I expressed very briefly at the end of our presentation a point that I wish I could have made more forcibly. That relates to the way that Open Access can prime the pump of scholarly productivity. As I have learned from my own electronic publications, the constant feedback from people all over the world continues to reinvigorate my scholarship and encourage me to develop it (and shape it in some specific ways responding to interest). I know from personal experience that open access to my own scholarship has energized my work, and I'm confident that it will do the same for other scholars as they join the "open scholarship" culture.