Open Access to Scholarship: The Impact of Platform Purchases by Major Vendors

About This Session

Kyle Courtney & Sarah Wipperman

Universities have seen an increasing number of vendors purchasing platforms across the research and scholarly communication lifecycle, from content creation to publishing, data management to analysis, research collaboration to evaluation. In this model, university libraries “rent” products rather than owning and controlling their own research infrastructure, which intensifies the question of what control universities have over their the scholarship they create and steward.

In particular, Elsevier’s purchase of bepress in 2017 caused a stir in the institutional repository (IR) community. Unlike previous such purchases (e.g., SSRN, Mendeley), bepress’ Digital Commons IR platform is more than just a place to store and share scholarship: it is a library-hosted and library-branded platform meant to support library stewardship of scholarly works. This left many libraries considering the implications of a major vendor-controlled IR solution and the role of the library in this space.  

In fall 2017, the University of Pennsylvania made a formal statement of its intent to explore other options for its institutional repository, ScholarlyCommons. Over the next year, a cross-divisional library taskforce conducted user research on scholarly communications practices on campus and an environmental scan of current repository uses and platform options.

In this presentation, Sarah Wipperman, who led the Penn Libraries taskforce, will be discussing the importance of library-owned/academy-aligned scholarly infrastructure as well as the work and findings of the Penn taskforce.


photo of Kyle Courtney

Kyle Courtney

  • Copyright Advisor, Harvard University

Kyle K. Courtney is the Copyright Advisor for Harvard University, working out of the Office for Scholarly Communication.  He works closely with Harvard Library to establish a culture of shared understanding of copyright issues among Harvard staff, faculty, and students. His work at Harvard also includes a role as the copyright and information policy advisor for HarvardX/edX. 

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photo of Sarah Wipperman

Sarah Wipperman

  • Scholarly Communications & Digital Repository Librarian, University of Pennsylvania

Sarah heads the Scholarly Communication & Research Infrastructure Project (SCRIP), which is rethinking Penn Libraries' scholarly communication infrastructure - the services, tools, and platforms we provide to help the Penn community create and disseminate their scholarly works - and the Scholarly Communication UnBoxed Activity (SCUBA), a blueprint for hosting events where communities work through collaborative activities designed to build a shared understanding of scholarly communications and to think together about their practices.

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