UM System forms task force to review journal subscriptions, open access publishing

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Christian Basi

April 05, 2019

The university continues to examine how money is spent and seeks operational efficiency

COLUMBIA, Mo. — University of Missouri System President Mun Choi today announced the formation of the Open Access Publishing Task Force, calling for members of the task force to examine the rising costs of journal subscriptions and review the many open access opportunities available.

“Currently, we spend more than $5 million each year on journal subscriptions, and these costs have risen substantially in the last several years,” Choi said. “As a former researcher, I know how important it is for our scholars and students to have access to this information. However, we believe we have significant resources in our four universities and transformations in the publishing industry provide us an opportunity to revisit how we have been accessing these journals for decades.”

Recently, the University of California System decided to cancel its subscriptions with Elsevier, one of the world’s largest journal publishers. As part of its charge, the UM task force will review factors that prompted the California decision and determine how they might be similar to those impacting the UM System universities. The task force will be chaired by Ann Campion Riley, vice provost for libraries at the University of Missouri-Columbia. It will include faculty representatives from all four UM universities.

“It is critical during this time of shrinking resources that we look to other options to continue and improve on our missions of research and education,” Campion Riley said. “I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues across the UM System to find solutions to this issue. We are all very aware of our duties to be good fiscal stewards of the financial resources entrusted to us from the state and our students.”

In addition to Campion Riley, members of the task force include:

  • James Birchler, Curators' Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences, MU
  • Michael Bruening, Associate Professor of History and IFC Rep., Missouri S&T
  • Brenda Dingley, Scholarly Communications Librarian, UMKC
  • Jun Fan, Cynthia Tang Missouri Distinguished Professor in Computer Engineering, Missouri S&T
  • Emily Goldstein, Assistant Director for the Center for Teaching and Learning and Instructional Designer, UMSL
  • Sherry Mahnken, Research Librarian, Missouri S&T
  • Ed Malone, Professor of English and Technical Communication, Missouri S&T
  • Gary Myers, Earl F. Nelson Professor of Law, MU
  • Tim Nelson, Collection, Development and Acquisitions Librarian, UMSL
  • John Spertus, MD, MPH, FACC and FAHA, UMKC
  • Jill Wood, Director, Academic Affairs, UM System
  • Xiaolan Yao, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences , UMKC
  • Bethany Zolman, Associate Professor in Biology and Director of the Biochemistry and Biotechnology Program, UMSL 

“The task force will work through potential strategies, actions and desired outcomes for the UM System to embark on a path to a more sustainable model of scholarly communication and library collection costs,” Choi said. “We hope to build faculty consensus to support open access publishing; develop guiding principles for open access; retain faculty copyrights and protect author rights; identify alternative sources for access to scholarly publications; increase financial support for institutional repositories; and establish a data-driven process to inform decision-making.”

It is expected that the process could take a significant amount of time before any final decisions will be made. 

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