February 24, 2020
Dani Guzman, Ex Libris
Academic libraries play a key role in supporting a university’s research, and their involvement can amplify the work of researchers significantly. University College London (UCL) is a fitting example. The UCL Library Services team is driving open-access publishing across the institution in ways that are raising the visibility of research output.
We spoke with Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services), for an inside view. (You can listen to the full audio of the interview below.)
“We have identified a distinct role for our libraries in the research process,” says Ayris. “For instance, we’ve built a very rich digital experience for researchers, in which they can interact with us and complete much of their workflow electronically.”
When we make these publications available as Open Access outputs via UCL Press, we get tens of thousands of downloads.
UCL librarians are also leading discussions with faculty about the importance of open-access publishing and how they can take advantage of this — and this hands-on approach is making a big difference in changing behaviors.
“We’re trying to support our researchers’ work using open-science practices,” Ayris says. “We’re opening their minds to possibilities for sharing their work — and new ways of measuring success.”
UCL’s Open Access team of librarians makes personal contact with individual researchers and academic groups, walking them through the process of uploading their work to UCL’s institutional repository. The dozen or so librarians on the Open Access team also show researchers how to comply with research funders’ OA requirements.
“We walk them through each transaction,” Ayris says. “I hear from academics all the time that they appreciate the personal attention we can provide. This attention to detail has made open-access publishing very common here.”
Open-access publishing at UCL extends to the arts and humanities as well as the sciences. It is “removing barriers between the user and the source,” Ayris declares.
In what Ayris calls the United Kingdom’s first fully open-access university press, the university’s publishing arm, UCL Press, publishes around 50 open-access research monographs per year.
“If we were to sell one of these monographs over the bookshop counter, the number of sales we’d get worldwide would be quite small — probably around 200,” he observes. “But when we make these publications available as OA outputs via UCL Press, we get tens of thousands of downloads.”
The most popular UCL Press monograph has been downloaded more than 350,000 times from the university’s institutional repository and from JSTOR over the course of four years.
“We get a fantastic number of downloads,” Ayris concludes. Open-access publishing “is making a huge impact in how people are accessing our research” — and the Library Services division is at the center of this success.
Listen to the full interview with Paul Ayris: