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19:18 GreyNet International English 2017

How open access policies affect access to grey literature in university digital repositories: A case study of iSchools

Problem/Goal: An issue of interest to library and information science (“LIS”) scholars and practitioners is how open access policies can affect the access and use of grey literature in university digital repositories. Open access (“OA”) refers to research placed online free from all price barriers and from most permission barriers (Suber, 2015), allowing unfettered access to scholarship and promoting open scholarly communication (Banach, 2011; Eysenbach, 2006). OA may apply research published traditionally, such as books (Schwartz, 2012) and academic articles (Suber, 2015), and published non-traditionally (i.e., grey literature), such as student electronic theses and dissertations (Schöpfel & Prost, 2013; Schöpfel & Lipinski, 2012). The treatment of grey literature in university digital repositories is of particular import due to “the ephemeral and changing nature of grey publication types, editions, and formats” (Rucinski, 2015, p. 548; see Farace & Schöpfel, 2010). The access and use of grey literature in these repositories is often executed through an OA policy. There is a gap in the literature, however, regarding best practices for drafting and implementing OA policies that promote unfettered access to grey literature. Research Method/Procedure: This paper analyzes OA policies from a sample of U.S. iSchools, created by cross-referencing the iSchool Directory (iSchools, 2014) with the top twenty-five best LIS programs ranked by U.S. News and World Reports (U.S. News, 2017). Initial analysis shows that of the twenty-two iSchools in the sample, all schools have university digital repositories but only fifteen have OA policies. The project maps these policies against variables drawn from the benchmark for open scholarly communication, the Harvard Open Access Project’s Good Practices for University Open-Access Policies (Shieber & Suber, 2017; 2015; 2013; see also Harvard OSC, 2015; Nguyen, 2008). Results: The goal of this paper is to understand how OA policies at university digital repositories affects access to grey literature in an ever-changing information landscape. Based on the analysis of the sampled iSchool OA policies and the Harvard OA policy variables, it recommends best practices for drafting and implementing OA policies that provide unfettered access to grey literature in university digital repositories.
  • Published: 2017
  • Publisher: GreyNet International
  • Language: English
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