In early October, Utah State University joined an elite group of universities in the United States to actively endorse a commitment to make scholarly work widely available. On Oct. 5, Executive Vice President and Provost Raymond T. Coward signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. With his signature, Utah State became one of the first American universities — and the first in Utah — to join the ever-growing list of international universities and organizations to endorse the declaration’s goals, according to Richard Clement, dean of libraries at USU.”We are pleased that Utah State University is among the first American universities to put a signature to the declaration,” Clement said. “It’s an affirmation of what we’ve already been doing in our support of open access and the library’s Digital Commons.”Institutions that sign the Berlin Declaration strive to make its authors’ works available without restrictions and place scholarly publications in an institutional repository that supports open access, unrestricted distribution and long-term archiving.The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, issued in 2003 by international research, scientific and cultural institutions, promotes the Internet as a medium of disseminating global knowledge. It has been signed by the leaders of more than 300 research institutions, libraries, archives, museums, funding agencies and governments from around the world.”Utah State University supports and endorses the goals of the Berlin Declaration and is implementing them on our campus,” Provost Coward said. “Our libraries, under the direction of Dean Clement, lead the way in this effort and much has been accomplished.”Among areas of progress noted by Coward are significant numbers of USU faculty depositing scholarly articles in USU’s Digital Commons and an anticipated increase in these numbers. Currently, many of the library’s unique holdings are freely available in digital form, and the university supports several open access journals in Digital Commons that maintain traditional peer review. Open access publications that have gone through the peer review process are considered in the promotion and tenure process. Additionally, the continued development of necessary infrastructure supports the university’s open access efforts.Open access literature is accessible to all readers free of charge on the Internet and can be distributed and used in science, teaching and related areas. It refers to peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly publications and their manuscript versions, both pre-print and post-print.Utah State University was recognized as a new signatory in a ceremony at the International Berlin 9 Open Access Conference held Nov. 9-10 in Washington, D.C. Dean Clement represented USU at the two-day conference.The Berlin Open Access Conference series supports the continued adoption and realization of the principles of the declaration, conference organizers said. It has been hosted in Germany, Switzerland, England, France and China. Berlin 9 marks the first meeting in North America.Organizers said the conference addressed the unique considerations of the North American community in exploring the transformative impact that open, online access to research has on scholarship, scientific discovery and the translation of resulting benefits to the public. Its goal is to make scientific and scholarly research more accessible to the broader public by taking full advantage of the possibilities offered by digital electronic communication.Signatories of the Berlin Declaration support actions that ensure the future Web is “sustainable, interactive and transparent, and that content is openly accessible, in order to realize the vision of a global and accessible representation of knowledge.”USU’s University Libraries policies and practices fall in line with the objectives of the Berlin Declaration.”The library is dedicated to assisting USU faculty in retaining copyright protection to their own scholarly articles,” Clement said. “They can then be deposited in our Digital Commons, making them available not only throughout the state of Utah but everywhere. I believe that’s a fundamental part of the land-grant mission of the 21st century.”
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