University of Michigan’s provost Phil Hanlon, along with his counterparts in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, recently expressed their support for open access in a piece for Inside Higher Ed. In their statement, the provosts of the eleven CIC institutions voiced their concerns about restrictive legislation like HR 3699 (the Research Works Act) and their disappointment in the academic publishers (Elsevier being perhaps the most talked about example, but by no means the only one) who came out in support of the bill.
Hanlon and his colleagues offer four recommendations for how campus administrations can contribute to an environment in which research is made widely available and accessible. Two of these recommendations represent the core of what we do here at MPublishing, namely 1) counseling faculty on how to retain and reclaim their rights to their own published material, and 2) creating new models for scholarly publishing. Staff in MPublishing’s Copyright Office regularly counsel faculty members to help them determine what their publishing contracts mean, and they provide an author’s addendum to ensure that faculty retain the rights they need to make their work widely available. The University of Michigan Press is pioneering open access imprints like digitalculturebooks, which publishes innovative work in the fields of digital humanities and new media studies. MPublishing has partnered with Open Humanities Press to release six open access books on critical theory, continental philosophy and cultural studies. In addition, MPublishing is responsible for publishing nearly thirty open access journals in a variety of disciplines.
MPublishing is proud to see Provost Hanlon and his CIC colleagues making a strong statement in support of open access. Publication, whatever form it takes, is critical to the infrastructure of scholarship, and in the words of the CIC provosts, it “is a means to social betterment, and not a goal unto itself.”