The National Science Foundation has extended its “where discoveries begin” initiative to include not just principal investigators but anyone interested in perusing publically funded data through the promulgation of rules requiring funding recipients to have data management plans in place. Instead of researchers seeing this request as another chore in an unending to-do list, data management plans (DMP) can be considered a beneficial and valuable impetus to organize and archive resources with potential for enhancing a researcher’s profile. As Alfonso Ortega, PhD, associate vice president for research and graduate programs and the James R. Birle professor of energy technology in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, says “DMP’s are not just about fulfilling regulations but also about making your good work available.”
The imperative to make Villanova University scholarship more accessible drove Falvey Memorial Library Interim Library Director Darren Poley to organize a series of forums with Dr. Ortega on three emerging developments in scholarly communication: data management plans (Sept. 16), open access journals (Oct. 21st) and institutional repositories (Nov. 11). All forums will take place in Connelly Center cinema from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Both Dr. Ortega and Mr. Poley recognize that a “build it and they will come” philosophy can lead to costly missteps and that faculty input is critical to success. With this guiding principle in mind, the forums are designed to facilitate conversations about these trends and generate ideas about how they ought to be tackled at Villanova.
At the first forum on data management plans, Dr. Ortega introduced the topic by commenting on the challenges researchers face in the day to day management and storage of data of all stripes (big, proprietary, and sensitive), the dilemmas researchers face about pressure to archive and share data, and the importance of clearly articulating how solutions to data management will advance the University Strategic Plan and are essential for them to be resourced sustainably. Poley spoke about how libraries are natural partners in the scholarly enterprise with deep expertise in organizing and archiving resources that ought to be extended to research data. Linda Hauck, business librarian, surveyed how data management services are progressing at other higher-education institutions.
The highlight of the program was talks by Assistant Professor Melissa O’Connor, PhD, MBA, RN, COS-C (College of Nursing) and Professor Amy S. Fleischer, PhD, (College of Engineering) and the discussion they generated. Dr. Fleischer described the National Science Foundation’s data-management-plan requirement from the inside out. Dr. O’Connor illuminated the technical and physical security safeguards that need to be in place when using Medicare data and National Institutes of Health funding as well as the costs associated with data extraction. Comments and questions were volleyed about how to balance intellectual property rights with public access and scholarly reputations, whether Villanova has a research data policy, who should curate and provide stewardship of data a Villanova, and what secure methods for data back-up are available at Villanova.
At the second forum, held Oct. 21st on open access journals, Nikolaus Fogle, PhD, subject librarian for philosophy, provided an overview of the open access journal publishing movement including quality issues, tenure and promotion dilemmas, faculty initiated open access policies, and sustainability challenges. He detailed how the traditional journal-publishing-business model employed by for-profit, non-profit and association publishers alike are straining library budgets. Next up was Professor Aaron M. Bauer, Gerald M. Lemole endowed chair in integrative biology, presenting the researcher point of view, noted that publication fees for high quality open access journals range from $1350 to $3000 per paper and that those fees cannot reasonably be recouped for externally funded research given the volume of papers some projects spawn (one such project alone lead by Dr. Bauer generated 68 papers!). He observed that publication fee discounts are among the benefits of institutional membership in open access publishing organizations, such as PLoS (Public Library of Science) and Biomed Central, and many of our peer institutions have made the commitment. Finally, he commented that the transition to open access will not be simple or quick as pressure to publish in high impact and h-index journals is a fact of life for academics establishing careers and striving to advance professionally. Dr. Bauer implored Villanova academic departments, Colleges and the Library to commit to finding sustainable solutions to the National Science Foundation’s impending mandates for open access publishing. Interim Library Director Darren Poley discussed library supported journals. Gregory D. Hoskins, PhD, Lawrence C. Gallen fellow in the humanities, took attendees for a deep dive into how Concept has become a professional-looking online journal powered by graduate student editors and reviewers. Finally Professor John-Paul Spiro shared the joys and difficulties that came with starting up the online journal, Expositions: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, including managing subscriptions and submissions to cultivate readership.
Contribute to the ongoing conversation by attending the final forums on institutional repositories (Monday, Nov. 11, 3:30-5 p.m., Connelly Center Cinema).
Linda Hauck, MS, MBA, is a business librarian. Photographs by Alice Bampton.