University System of Maryland Encourages Researchers to Consider Benefits of Open Access to Their Works

Adelphi, MD (Oct. 23, 2017) -- The University System of Maryland (USM) institutions have released a "Statement Supporting Open Access Dissemination of Scholarship," a joint statement created by the university libraries of all 12 USM campuses. Councils representing the faculty, students, and the presidents of USM's universities have collectively endorsed the statement. The statement explains the potential benefits to researchers who choose to make their works "freely available online either immediately upon completion, or within specified limited periods."

The statement encourages USM researchers to consider Open Access as part of their personal and professional publishing strategies. Numerous national and international governments, coalitions, and learned and professional associations embrace Open Access as a desirable strategy for improving existing systems of scholarly publishing. Scholars who choose Open Access can experience potential gains such as increased visibility, use, and impact of their scholarly works.

The statement in support of Open Access also encourages authors of scholarly works to retain the copyrights to their works whenever possible, rather than follow the customary practice of transferring all copyrights to publishers in exchange for being published.

"The libraries of USM led this effort and did a great job securing support for a statement that reflects our wish to increase the visibility and impact of work done within USM institutions," said USM Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs JoAnn Boughman. "The statement is not a mandate to the faculty, staff, and other researchers within USM institutions. However, it does encourage researchers to consider methods for making their works openly available, and helping to improve the existing systems of scholarly publishing and communication within academic disciplines."

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), a global coalition committed to making Open Access the norm for research and education, applauds the USM statement.

"We commend the University System of Maryland for its leadership in issuing this joint statement, as well as for their encouragement to faculty, students, and other researchers to embrace Open Access," said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC. "Only a small handful of public university systems in the U.S. have issued collective statements or policies on Open Access, authors' rights, or the need to change the existing systems of scholarly publishing. This action places USM squarely at the forefront of a movement to ensure open and equitable access to research outputs."

The statement also offers help to faculty, staff, and other researchers who want to learn more about Open Access and their rights and options as authors.

"Our universities' libraries are prepared to help researchers understand their options, and to help them make choices that maximize advantages to them as authors," said Chuck Thomas, director of the consortium that represents the USM libraries. "We encourage them to consider Open Access, but we also recognize that the options for researchers and authors vary considerably across different scholarly fields.

"The choices that a researcher in ‘Discipline A' makes could be very different from the choices made by an author in ‘Discipline B.' We made sure that the statement reflects differences across academic disciplines," Thomas said. "Moreover, we recognize that there is value in having different co-existing models of scholarly publishing. This statement is about helping researchers understand their full range of choices and letting them make the choices that best suit their publishing and career goals."

Professor Beth Haller of the Towson University Department of Mass Communication & Communication Studies welcomed the USM statement.

"The Towson University library provides a digital platform and services for me to store and openly share much of my research from a period spanning more than 20 years in the field of Disability Studies. I hope the USM statement will encourage more of the faculty and students at Towson University and other USM institutions to consider the benefits of Open Access to their works, and to begin more departmental and institutional discussions on this topic."

The University System of Maryland, the state's public higher education system, comprises 12 institutions, two regional higher education centers, and a system office. The USM engages in research and scholarship that expand the boundaries of current knowledge, and provides knowledge-based programs and services that are responsive to the needs of the citizens of the state and nation.

The USM statement is available here and is accompanied by a supporting Frequently Asked Questions document. Both documents are available as downloadable PDF files.

Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719