We wanted to be able to provide them with confident, informed answers about open access dissertations, especially their effect on the publishing prospects (and, in turn, job and tenure prospects) of their authors.We quickly learned that there were very few research studies on this topic.The more comprehensive our database is, the more useful it is to everyone!
We thank Jill Cirasella and Polly Thistlethwaite of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York for contributing the following guest post, which provides some background on their recent book chapter “Open Access and the Graduate Author: A Dissertation Anxiety Manual.” For years, we have encouraged researchers at our institution, the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, to consider the benefits—for others, themselves, and their fields of study—of making their scholarship available open access.
In doing so, we have found allies, some already committed to open access and some newly swayed by our arguments.
In our research, we found a wide array of misgivings about open access dissertations, but we were able to sort them into six categories: More research on all these matters is necessary, but we were pleased to be able to pull together some (reassuring!
) statements by publishers and provide some (reassuring! We hope we dispelled some myths, clarified some ambiguities and misunderstandings, and inspired some more formal studies. (Needless to say, we also made it openly available.) We also recommend another chapter in the book that covers similar ground, “From Apprehension to Comprehension: Addressing Anxieties about Open Access to ETDs” by Kyle K. Jill Cirasella is Associate Librarian for Scholarly Communication & Digital Scholarship at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
A survey published in this month’s found about 7 percent of university presses and about 3 percent of journals would not publish works based on open access electronic theses or dissertations.
The respondents included 53 members of the Association of American University Presses and 75 social sciences and arts and humanities journals.The study suggests smaller publishers are more likely to balk at publishing books or articles based on material that has been available online.According to the same paper, as of 2011, about 140 of 70,000 papers available on the Pro Quest dissertation archive had been removed because publishers considered these works “prior publication.” Joan Dalton, one of the authors of the study and an associate dean of the University of Windsor Library, said the findings are mixed but that AHA’s policy could harm scholarship.An increasing number of higher education institutions worldwide are requiring submission of electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) by graduate students and are subsequently providing open access to these works in online repositories.Faculty advisors and graduate students are concerned that such unfettered access to their work could diminish future publishing opportunities.To review theses and dissertations by subject area, try these links, chosen for their wide appeal and timeliness.Of course, you can find documents on any topic using our keyword search.“My perspective is that if we’re intending to advance knowledge, that requires open communication and it seems to me that the policy may be more effective at protecting a business model than at promoting the building of knowledge,” she said.The AHA has tried to make clear that while it suggests embargoes of up to six years, its formal statement is aimed only at ensuring that universities give young scholars the option to embargo their research.In the late 1980s and early 1990s, while working in NYC academic libraries, Polly also worked with the Lesbian Herstory Archives and the AIDS activist group ACT UP.She became a conduit for non-academics seeking access to medical and scholarly work sequestered behind library doors and paywalls.