University of Tennessee Signs Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity (COPE)

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) has proclaimed support for open-access publishing of journal articles by signing the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity (COPE). UT is the eighteenth institution to join a roster of signatories that includes Harvard, Duke, Sloan-Kettering, and other preeminent research institutions.

Open-access publishing is an alternative to the prevailing business model of subscription-based journal publishing. Open-access journals are freely available online to researchers, scholars, and the public worldwide.

COPE was formed in 2009 to encourage equity of the two models of journal publishing.

For universities, open-access publishing offers several advantages over the traditional model. Open access insures that research and scholarly work will be broadly disseminated and discovered. Scholarly work and research results are published online, through journals and institutional digital repositories, and made immediately available to the millions of people around the world who have access to the Internet.

Open-access publishing also allows authors to retain copyrights in their own scholarly work rather than ceding copyrights to a commercial publisher.

Commercial publishers play a valuable role in the cycle of scholar communication. However, in recent decades inflation in costs of subscription-based journals has consumed an every larger portion of university libraries’ collections budgets.

“Open-access publishing offers an attractive and viable alternative to the scenario of ever-increasing journal subscription fees,” says Steve Smith, UT’s dean of libraries. Publication costs for open-access journals are borne on the front end by sponsoring organizations or through author fees (article processing charges) rather than subscription fees charged to the end user. “We are proud that UT’s Open Publishing Support Fund has, since 2008, been subsidizing publication in open-access journals,” declares Smith. The Fund, a project of the university libraries and the office of research and engagement, has to date underwritten the publication of 79 open-access articles by 48 faculty and graduate student authors.

The University of Tennessee has long had a policy of supporting and funding open-access publishing. A decade ago, a group of UT life sciences faculty requested that the university provide incentives for faculty to publish in open-access journals. The UT Faculty Senate endorsed the Tempe Principles for Emerging Systems of Scholarly Publishing in 2003 and passed a resolution in May 2006 endorsing administrative incentives to encourage faculty publication in alternative scholarly outlets.

“Joining COPE confirms the university’s commitment to a new culture of scholarly communication,” according to Taylor Eighmy, UT’s vice chancellor for research and engagement. “For tenure and promotion decisions, ‘peer-reviewed’ is ‘peer-reviewed,’ whether on paper or online. The ultimate goal is to create and disseminate new knowledge. Sharing UT’s research and scholarship is central to our mission as a land-grant institution.”

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