CUNY Institutional Repository: Coming Soon-ish?

Good news for open access at CUNY!  Last week, CUNY’s University Faculty Senate passed a resolution in support of the creation of a CUNY-wide institutional repository.  You may be familiar with subject repositories such as arXiv (physics and other sciences) and SSRN (social sciences), where researchers in specific disciplines upload their articles, making them freely available to everyone.  However, not all fields have robust subject repositories, and institutional repositories are crucial for reaching the goal of 100% open access to scholarly literature.  A CUNY institutional repository will give CUNY faculty and other researchers a permanent place to post their articles (and other work), regardless of field.

You might wonder, “Are researchers allowed to make their scholarly journal articles freely available online?” Very often, the answer is YES.  A majority of journal publishers allow self-archiving of this kind; to check the policy of a specific publisher or journal, go to http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/.  (Even if a journal doesn’t automatically allow it, authors can negotiate their rights with the SPARC Author Addendum.)

To clarify, the UFS resolution of support is not an open access policy along the lines of those passed at Harvard, MIT, Princeton, etc., in which faculty automatically grant their university a nonexclusive right to distribute their articles (with the ability to opt out, if necessary or desired).  It is my ardent hope that CUNY will pass such a policy in the not-too-distant future, but a vote in favor of an institutional repository is a huge step in the right direction.  Next step, actually create the institutional repository!

The full text of the UFS resolution is below:

WHEREAS there is a need for open-access models to assist libraries and institutions in dealing with the budgetary challenges presented by the ever-increasing costs charged by journal publishers; and

WHEREAS open-access institutional repositories do not replace traditional publishing but rather serve as an additional venue for maximizing access to the fruits of faculty research; and

WHEREAS numerous universities have created open-access institutional repositories and associated policies, and many more universities are currently working toward such repositories and policies; and

WHEREAS the City University of New York is committed to educating the public and making knowledge accessible and affordable; therefore let it be

RESOLVED that the University Faculty Senate supports the development of an open-access institutional repository for the City University of New York, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in accordance with best practices, guidelines for depositing materials into the CUNY repository should be created by faculty appointed by the UFS working with the Office of Library Services and should include recommendations to faculty to deposit finished journal articles, preprints, chapters, etc. The guidelines should encourage but not require faculty to contribute to the repository, and ensure that depositing a work into the repository will not affect the author’s copyright.

7 Replies to “CUNY Institutional Repository: Coming Soon-ish?”

  1. This is very welcome news. I hope that UFS can also envision and later construct the repository as a place to accommodate master’s theses or undergraduate honors theses. Students, not only faculty, should have opportunities to preserve their work in an accessible manor. … I had hoped that CUNY’s DSpace could be used to archive theses, but its support team is understaffed. My home department (Queens History) has been struggling for over a year to get a DSpace account to no avail.

  2. That’s a very good point, Kristina — we also hope the repository will go beyond scholarly articles by faculty. However, we focused the UFS resolution on faculty articles because other materials are trickier topics (for example, theses and dissertations introduce issues of permissions, privacy, republishability, etc.), and we didn’t want concern or confusion about those to prevent the resolution from being passed or delay the creation of a repository. That said, once a repository is developed, it will be able to hold just about anything, and it will not be difficult to create accounts or upload materials. It may or may not be possible to agree on a single university-wide policy about theses, and if it’s not, individual campuses and/or departments could definitely make policies for their student theses.

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