New open access policy expands public accessibility of Penn State research

Penn State has joined a growing list of major research universities to enact an open access policy to expand the public availability and accessibility of its research.

The new open access policy took effect on Jan. 1 and applies to all University researchers, including faculty and staff, University appointees, graduate and post-doctoral research assistants or fellows, and visiting scholars.

Under the new policy — known officially as AC02 — University researchers automatically grant Penn State a non-exclusive license to make their work available through ScholarSphere, the University’s open access institutional repository designed to help increase the global visibility and impact of Penn State research and scholarship.

“This new open access policy is a landmark development for our University as a global research institution, and it will magnify the reach and impact of Penn State scholarship,” said Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones. “In support of our modern-day land-grant mission, we want to share Penn State’s impactful research as openly and widely as possible, so that people worldwide can benefit from this work. “

The policy also supports and preserves the academic freedom of faculty members to submit their research to publications of their choosing. If a researcher wishes to submit their work to a journal that does not allow archiving their work in ScholarSphere, the researcher can request a waiver to the policy, which is automatically granted upon submission. The policy does not require payment of article processing charges, and imposes no restrictions on where University researchers may publish.

The new policy was endorsed by the Penn State Faculty Senate last spring and approved for official implementation by University President Eric Barron in August, representing the culmination of multiple years of collaborative work between Penn State’s administration, the University Libraries, faculty members, researchers and other key stakeholders across the University.

“I’m proud that Penn State’s faculty and Libraries are taking a leadership role in the global initiative to make research open to the public, an idea that is fundamental to the University’s land-grant mission of public service,” said Lora Weiss, Penn State’s senior vice president for research. “It’s exciting to see many years of hard work coming to fruition with the launch of the program, and I thank the faculty senate and the Penn State Libraries for their work on implementing it.”

AC02 was developed by a University-wide taskforce charged by Jones and Dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications Barbara Dewey with creating an open access research policy that supports and empowers researchers while expanding the public accessibility of Penn State scholarship.

“Open research benefits both researchers by increasing the availability and visibility of their work, as well as the public by making scholarship and information more widely and easily accessible,” Dewey said, noting that Penn State is also a member of the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions. “As subscription access to scholarly journals continues to steadily increase in price, we remain committed to the open and equitable access to Penn State research and scholarship.”

The Penn State Open Access Taskforce was led by Karen Estlund, at the time the associate dean for technology and digital strategies with the University Libraries, and Greg Madden, Penn State’s associate chief information officer for research, with representatives from University Libraries and various academic colleges.

The new open access policy is one of several initiatives related to Open at Penn State, which aims to advance equitable and affordable access to information, research, data and educational resources across the University.

Questions about the open access policy should be directed to the University Libraries’ Office of Scholarly Communications and Copyright at openaccess@psu.edu. Researchers interested in learning more about the policy and how it relates to their work can also attend online Zoom sessions with librarians from the Office of Scholarly Communications and Copyright.

Additional information on the open access policy implementation is also available online at OpenAccess.psu.edu.