Campus launches new research support website

Anissa Nishioka/Staff

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The campus library launched a new website July 13 which compiles resources for campus researchers.

The website includes resources on affordable course content, copyright laws and open access publishing, among others.

The goal of the program, as explained by scholarly communication officer Rachael Samberg, is to provide “support for making (researchers’) work available more broadly.” The website is part of a larger scholarly communications services program which began last summer, according to MacKie-Mason, the campus’s university library.

The website supports the UC’s larger policy of open access for all UC academic publications.

The website provides resources on finding open access articles, books or textbooks — which means that they are available online for free. A current campus open source pilot program includes paying professors up to $5,000 to incentivize them to make their textbooks open access.

According to Samberg, the program could save students “thousands and thousands” of dollars.

The affordable course content portion of the website states that “textbook prices have risen 88% in the past decade … the campus and the Library are dedicated to addressing and improving this situation.”

Additionally, the price of academic journals has outpaced inflation — rising 5 percent per year, according to MacKie-Mason.

Samberg pointed to the campus’s data science program as being particularly active in promoting open source materials. The Foundations of Data Science course, for example, uses a free open-source online textbook.

Assistant teaching professor John DeNero, who taught the course in spring 2017, said using open source allows other universities to utilize of the material by fitting it into their existing curriculum. He noted that students made use of the exclusively online textbook a surprisingly substantial amount.

The copyright portion of the website outlines how instructors can use copyrighted materials and manage their own intellectual property. It explains laws surrounding “fair use,” which encourages instructors to make versions of copyrighted materials available that facilitate discussion and education.

According to MacKie-Mason, researchers often give the copyright of their work to publishers in exchange for its publication. Jo Anne Newyear-Ramirez, associate university librarian for scholarly resources, said the website gives tips on negotiation for when researchers sign copyright agreements.

According to MacKie-Mason, only about 15 percent of new campus research is being published open-source.

He attributes this to the time needed to submit materials to the UC’s open-source repository as well as the policy’s lack of enforcement.

The website also details a campus program that provides funds for UC Berkeley researchers to be able to publish their work as open access. As opposed to the standard process of readers paying the publisher to access scholarly works, under this program the university pays the publishers to provide the work for free.

The campus currently spends $12 million per year to access academic journals for students, faculty and campus researchers to use.

Contact Henry Tolchard at [email protected].org and follow him on Twitter at @htolchard.