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April 29, 2010

Task force to look at open-access issues

Pitt will set up a University-wide task force to recommend policies and procedures governing open-access publishing of Pitt-generated research.

Senate Council unanimously approved the creation of the task force April 14. The action followed Faculty Assembly’s April 6 endorsement of the task force, a proposal that originated in the University Senate’s library committee. (See April 15 University Times.)

Under the resolution, Provost James V. Maher and Senate President Michael R. Pinsky are designated to appoint the task force, to be drawn from stakeholders across the University.

The task force will address open-access scholarship issues, including:

What is the role of the University as producer and disseminator of knowledge/scholarship?

What is the role of the individual members of the academic community in the dissemination of their own scholarship?

How will the University evaluate and reward the dissemination of scholarship in new or nontraditional forms in the tenure and promotion process?

What are the long-term implications of new financial and technological arrangements for the consumption of scholarship and the production of new knowledge in research universities?

Prior to the vote at Senate Council, Maher said, “It has been clear for a number of years that scholarly communication is under serious strain, nationally and internationally. We’ve been one of the leaders over those years in trying to do some concrete things as they become available to us.”

For instance, Maher said, Pitt was one of the early adopters of an electronic system for storing and making accessible University PhD theses. The University also opened its institutional repository, known as D-Scholarship@Pitt, last year for Pitt authors who want to make their scholarly work available in open-access form.

“Where this system of scholarly publication is going to go, I don’t think anyone knows. But it is important that we be part of that discussion. A number of very good universities have already in the last couple of years made commitments on open access for scholarly publications that I think would be good for us to consider,” Maher said.

“The attractive thing about this task force is while we don’t know what it will propose, we’ll put together a task force of good people from the University and at least have serious discussion of what we should be doing.”

Maher cautioned that the reference in the resolution to “developing policies and procedures” is not intended to circumvent the University’s established policy approval process.

Any policies and procedures the task force recommends will have to move through the normal processes of adoption, including Faculty Assembly and Senate Council, he said.

—Peter Hart

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