Skip to Main Content

Scholarly Communications News: Student Concerns

This site provides information about Scholarly Communications issues.

Student Concerns regarding Open Access

Students often wonder about the long-term implications of making their work Open Access accessable.

Of particular concern are two areas:

(1) can I redact my material at a later time if desired, and

(2) how will this affect my future publications that might include some of these elements?

1. Future removal of selected material.

When material is submitted to any repository there is a license that defines the assignment of rights and future actions (copyright, functionality, preservation, re-use, etc.). 

NOTE: Some types of student material are automatically of public record and cannot be removed, regardless of the general policy. Examples include Theses, dissertations, and other works submitted as partial requirements toward university degrees. Check with your academic departments for details on which materials are considered public materials by default. In general, these materials cannot be removed upon request at a later date ... so be sure you want these materials as part of your permanent record before submitting them as official works.

2. Future impacts of making material publically available.

In some cases, material submitted and made public may have an unintended impact on future commercial and/or copyright conditions.

For instance, a public repository may initially restrict the release of some material to protect the future publication of journal manuscripts that require material to be novel and previously unpublished.

Some book publishers will consider the prior availability of materials as prior publication and will not allow this material to be published as a book without significant revisions. Some material provided in Open Access repositories may have copyright implications that will need to be addressed before they are included in follow-up publications, regardless of whether the initial publication was by the same author. In these cases, it would be helpful for students to consider assigning Creative Commons rights to items before making the initial materials available.  

For ProQuest's Dissertation and Thesis database, in general selecting the "allow a sale" option will mean that the material will probably not be available for publication as a book without significant revisions, and that copyright clearance will need to be obtained for any future re-use, unless a Creative Commons license has already been specified.

Duke University Press response to the American Historical Association call for a six year embargo on electronic dissertations, which refers to the recent C&RL article that reports on survey results showing there is little need to be concerned about ETDs being seen as prior publications that would jeopardize future publication of the material as either books or articles. Also see the Harvard University's Office for Scholarly Communication response.

The New York Times article on Monday, July 29, 2013, entitled “Historians Seek a Delay in Posting Dissertations” (Section B, page 6) lays out the public debate very briefly, and includes a comment from the director of the Association of  University Presses stating he has spoken with 15 heads of university presses and “I haven’t found one person who has said if it is available open access, we won’t publish it.” 

The Chronicle of Higher Education has had two recent articles: the first, “Publishing Your Dissertation Online: What’s a New Ph.D. to Do?” (July 26, 2013) describes the personal experiences of an author who is well aware of the book expectation for tenure, and the impressions about the potential negative impact of releasing your material as essentially an open access ETD. It has generated some interesting comments at the bottom of the article from many angles. The second article, “Embargoes Can Only Go So Far to Help New Ph.D.'s Get Published, Experts Say” (July 30, 2013) discusses the business of academic publishing from the point of view of a few authors who have experienced refusals by publishers to consider their materials after learning that the ETDs were available as open access ETDs. It also states that YBP data shows that the AHA position does not accurately reflect actual buying patterns in terms of dissertation-related materials. The article emphasizes that there are usually extensive revisions necessary before a dissertation can be submitted as a monograph … including modifying the style and context for a very different audience. There are a few examples of publisher policy statements showing that they refuse to publish open access materials. Other comments from industry players mention the need for case-by-case considerations. The final summary is that graduate students need more education and guidance about how to guard their materials if the subsequent distribution of their materials as a commercial product is under consideration.

3. Copyright Concerns: general statement

Per Title 17 of the United States Code, copyright protection applies equally to both published and non-published (i.e., manuscript) works, granting the authors of said works the exclusive rights to determine how their works may be distributed, copied, performed, displayed or adapted. In the United States, copyright protections apply without active registration, though registration with the United States Copyright Office provides additional security through the public record. Regardless, the author retains the copyright for his or her original work.

In depositing a thesis or dissertation with ProQuest, whether in print or electronic form, the author agrees to grant ProQuest a non-exclusive right to distribute copies of the author’s work. Further, ProQuest does not impose any limitations on how the author may use parts or all of that work in the future. 

Additionally, ProQuest offers graduate students using its ETDadmin deposit tool a value-added service, whereby ProQuest will register the author’s copyright with the United States Copyright Office on behalf of the author. Use of this service does not involve any transfer of rights between the author and ProQuest.

4. Textbook Concerns: costs and alternatives

In response to escalating textbook costs, the academic world is exploring alternatives to this commercial approach. One collaborative exploration is the OER, or Open Educational Resources, movement. Free and public domain teaching materials are reviewed and coordinated by initiatives such as Open Education Resources Commons . Another recent initiative is from Lumen Learning, a group dedicated to facilitating broad, successful adoption of OER. The SXU Library is beginning an exploration of how we can expand the conversation and provide support for such local efforts. We have a Review Team to test the effectiveness of commercial online textbook capabilities, and to explore implementing within CANVAS less expensive alternatives such as Open Educational Resources and locally created teaching materials.

See our OER Information page ... a web site describing our new exploratory initiative intended to reduce costs for students by finding and creating free alternatives to expensive textbooks.

Regardless of the quality of the materials, many students will not or cannot purchase or lease these commercial materials. A U.S. PIRG Education Fund study determined that 60% of students simply do not buy their required textbooks (see . Anecdotal comments from students show how little of a book may be actually utilized, how poorly they often explain the topics … and how few helpful visualization elements are included. Rampant scanning and copying occurs of portions of textbooks in libraries.  Many libraries no longer choose to make Reserve textbook copies available; as even those that do buy or house a donated faculty copy find that the one copy is woefully inadequate to support the needs of many students. 

The recent National Association of College Stores report shows that the number of students who purchase, rent, or borrow textbooks remains the same, but the dollars spent per semester are dropping (13%). Of these users, 79% obtain their materials through the campus bookstore; 83% purchase material, as opposed to 44% who rent. 89% of students report using some free materials in class, an increase of 100% in two years. 26% prefer strictly a paper book, down 100% from two years ago. 36% of students said they did not have their material on the first day of class, with many saying it was less about price than that they did not think the material was really necessary.   

Freshman OER Challenge: The campus has embarked upon an effort to reduce costs and enhance pedagogy by replacing expensive commercial textbooks with alternative materials whenever possible. The use of OER materials, embedding of already purchased library materials (as permalinks to specific articles and/or embedded links to pre-created searches of our databases), or the creation of local teaching materials, will allow for more customization of teaching materials and better testing. The first target is to review all alternative options, and revise as many Spring 2019 freshman courses as possible. Future plans are to extend this approach to other courses. 

5. Ranking Schools.

Washington Monthly College Rankings -- ranking of schools based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country). School listings are by type/level and "Best Bang for the Buck" by region.

College Scorecard site for each college, it includes measurements of students’ earnings six and 10 years after they started at a college and data showing the proportion of the college’s students who are repaying their student loans.






Copyright © 2013 | The Library at Saint Xavier University, 3700 W. 103rd St., Chicago, IL 60655 | Phone (773) 298-3352 | Fax (773) 298-5231 | Email: | MyMail | MySXU