By Nella Letizia, WSU Libraries
PULLMAN, Wash. – Federal agencies were told in 2013 to ensure public access to federally funded research through national repositories. Washington State University researchers receiving federal funding have a ready and local tool for making their work accessible: the Research Exchange at WSU Libraries.
The newly redesigned repository promotes the preservation and sharing of scholarship produced at the university. All WSU faculty members, staff, students and affiliates can share their research in any digital format, including articles, book chapters, working papers, technical reports, conference presentations, datasets, images, media and more.
“The power of research is not fully realized unless it is shared,” said Jay Starratt, dean of libraries. “From the publication of the first science journal in 1665, scholars have disseminated their research with others who share their interests and ambitions. WSU Research Exchange continues that tradition.”
A solution to the scholarly communication crisis
Rising journal costs have forced scholars and libraries to consider other options for disseminating and accessing scholarly work, said Talea Anderson, WSU Libraries’ scholarly communication librarian.
According to a 2012 report on academic libraries published by the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. academic libraries spent $2.8 billion in fiscal year 2012 to purchase information resources; almost $2 billion of that went to journal subscriptions. The Association of Research Libraries reports that the rate of journal expenditures has risen 402 percent from 1986 to 2011.
“As an alternative to the traditional model of scholarly communication, these dissatisfied groups have proposed open access – a model that makes digital copies of research freely available to the general public,” Anderson said.
Why use Research Exchange?
Faculty and other authors post their work to repositories like Research Exchange for several reasons, Anderson explained. Some published works are prohibitively expensive to buy in print. Authors want the convenience of sending interested readers to a website to download the works rather than emailing them.
“We believe Research Exchange can be useful in rapidly communicating faculty research to scholars around the world,” she said. “The repository is instrumental in increasing the impact and longevity of the university’s scholarship.
“As a public land-grant institution that received $125 million in federal funding in fiscal year 2014, WSU has an opportunity to take the lead in increasing access to key research findings,” she said.
Ties to land-grant mission
The open access model aligns with WSU’s land-grant mission of service to society. In 2014, WSU completed a 120-day study of its research enterprise that yielded the Grand Challenges, five key priorities that team WSU researchers with scholars around the world – as well as federal and state agencies, national laboratories, business and civic leaders and philanthropists – to target critical national and global problems.
“The Grand Challenges offer a better understanding of how local expertise can be more widely shared with regional and global audiences, a mission in keeping with open access publishing,” Anderson said.
In high demand
As of early December, WSU’s Research Exchange has 4,678 items, 199 collections and 5,255 authors. Between 2011 and 2015, the site recorded 715,971 page views and 1.43 million primary file downloads, Anderson said.
The most popular item in the last 12 months is a “Catalog Calculator,” downloaded and viewed 8,654 times. The calculator finds variable and fixed MARC (machine-readable cataloging record) fields, language codes, geographic area codes and more.
Other well-used items last year were an honors thesis on Beethoven’s piano sonatas; an invitation poster for President Elson S. Floyd’s welcome reception in 2007; a clinical project paper on sleep deprivation in the college student; and a master’s thesis on theme and experience in restaurant design.
How to get started
WSU researchers and authors can share their work on Research Exchange by sending a short email to email@example.com giving WSU Libraries permission to post their work and attaching a CV or publications list. The libraries will seek copyright permissions to post the digital items.
Alternatively, authors can navigate to the Research Exchange site (http://research.libraries.wsu.edu) and click on the “Share Your Work” button at the top of the page. A tutorial will walk them through describing and uploading files; WSU Libraries staff will finalize the submission.