Scholarly conversations examine open access

In the last 10 years, a number of prestigious universities and individual disciplines of higher education have moved toward supporting open access principles as they relate to journal publishing and the role of scholarly societies in publishing. Made possible by the Internet and the consent of the author or copyright holder, open access literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. Radically changing the distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature, open access offers free and unrestricted access by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students and other curious mind

Now in its sixth year, International Open Access Week is October 24-30, and activities at Penn State University Libraries will include two noteworthy speakers presenting scholarly perspectives on open access from the humanities and from the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) communities.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, director of scholarly communication at the Modern Language Association and professor of media studies at Pomona College, will present "New Wine in Old Bottles: Open Digital Communication and Scholarly Societies," from 2 to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26. A passionate advocate of new thinking in academic publishing, Fitzpatrick's recent article “Do 'the Risky Thing' in Digital Humanities?” in the Chronicle of Higher Education has received a lot of attention. The full text is available at

Scholarly societies have a crucial role to play in creating a new, sustainable model for scholarly communication in the digital age, yet many of these societies have long supported the services that they provide for their members through income generated from closed-access publications. In an age in which more and more scholarly communication is taking place on the open web, Fitzpatrick asks, "How can scholarly societies best help facilitate that work? How can those societies remain sustainable as their revenue models are increasingly replaced with a gift economy? What are scholars’ responsibilities with respect to their disciplinary organizations? And how can we work together to create a more open communication environment?"

Thomas Colledge, assistant professor of engineering design at Penn State and founder of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program, will present "Converting Passion into Academic Respectability: An Editor-in-Chief’s Open Access Journal Experience," from 2 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27.

Colledge's HESE program engages students and faculty in scholarly endeavors to alleviate problems experienced by marginalized communities around the world. To disseminate results of such efforts both at Penn State and across the world, in 2006, he began the International Journal for Service Learning in Engineering (IJSLE), an open access journal, aiming to nurture scholarly efforts in humanitarian engineering, social entrepreneurship and service learning in engineering as a distinct body of knowledge. His more perilous objective was to facilitate community building and nurture similar efforts across the country. In his presentation Colledge will discuss the audiences and motivations that influenced the creation of this open access journal, the hurdles encountered in its development and how mission creep influenced the evolution of IJSLE. He asks, "Where do authors, editors and sponsors come from and why do they do it? Do indexing services accommodate the struggle to be "known?" Where does a scholarly journal fit when accommodating a community that consists of both academics and practitioners? How is sustainability achieved? And where do we go from here?"

Free and open to the public, the presentations will be in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, University Park and also live and archived on MediaSite Live at No login required. The University Libraries' Colloquia Committee sponsors both presentations and Fitzgerald's talk is co-sponsored by the Institute for the Arts & Humanistic Studies.

For more information, accessibility accommodations or for questions about the physical access provided, call Patricia Hswe, digital curation, University Libraries, at 814-867-3702, or Linda Friend, scholarly communication, University Libraries, at 814-865-0673.


Last Updated January 09, 2015