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Mailman School Adopts an Open Access Policy for its Published Research

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Stephanie Berger
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The Mailman School of Public Health is joining a growing movement among universities and research institutions to make scholarly research available free to the public online. The Mailman School is the first school at the university and one of the first of U.S. schools of public health to adopt an open access resolution, which calls for faculty and other researchers at the school to post their papers in openly available online repositories such as Columbia’s Academic Commons.  The resolution passed unanimously by a vote of the standing Faculty Steering Committee and goes into effect on May 1, 2013.

Faculty and other researchers at the Mailman School publish scores of articles annually in scientific journals. One of the challenges for advancing scientific research, however, is that many journal articles are available only to researchers at universities and other organizations that pay substantial subscription fees.  In accordance with their open access resolution, Mailman School researchers commit to having their published scholarly articles included in Columbia's digital repository, Academic Commons, where content is freely available to the public, or in another repository, such as the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed Central, that makes the research publicly available.

“A wider dissemination of research and information has been a number one priority of our faculty, who are motivated by the belief that scientific knowledge belongs to everyone,” said Dean Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, and DeLamar Professor of Public Health. “It is in the interest of all of us to take every measure possible to improve and simplify the process of gaining access to our research findings. I couldn’t be more proud of our faculty who initiated this resolution to share their scholarly work.”

The resolution covers all scholarly journal articles as of May 1. There is an opt-out feature built into the resolution, permitting the researcher to request that an article that appears in a journal that insists on exclusivity not have that piece included in the repository.

In January 2011, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory became the first program at Columbia to adopt an open access resolution, followed by Columbia University Libraries’ adoption of a policy in June 2011. 

"We applaud the leadership of the Mailman School as the first Columbia school and among the first U.S. schools of public health to advance open access to research articles. It will serve as a model as the Libraries continue to work with other Columbia schools, centers and institutes to expand the commitment and participation," said James G. Neal, vice president for information services and university librarian.

The Columbia University Libraries will begin working immediately to support Mailman School researchers as they make their articles available through Academic Commons, the repository platform hosted by the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS), a division of the Columbia University Libraries/Information Services.

Rebecca Kennison, Director of CDRS, commented on the resolution: “Our digital research repository, Academic Commons, has experienced several years of explosive growth in terms of research deposited and worldwide access to that that research output. We are very much looking forward to working with the Mailman School faculty to ensure that their research has the greatest impact possible within the global community of practitioners and researchers who will now be able to have unfettered access to their work.”

May 1, 2013