May 27, 2022

New Penn State Open Access Policy to Expand Reach of University Research

From Penn St. University:

A new open access policy at Penn State, recently endorsed by the University Faculty Senate, will greatly increase public availability of original, peer-reviewed Penn State scholarly research in support of the University’s land-grant mission.

“The Faculty Senate’s endorsement of an open access policy is a gratifying milestone for us at the University Libraries,” said Karen Estlund, Penn State University Libraries associate dean for technology and digital strategies. “Research libraries across the world, including Penn State, have been leading the charge to provide free, unobstructed online access to original research for more than two decades.

“We support the views of the Open Access movement, which assert that publicly funded research should be made available to the public,” Estlund added. “Open research from higher-education institutions like Penn State not only helps to disrupt the cost-inflation crisis of academic journal subscriptions but also supports the affordability of higher education and increases the impact of that research around the world.”

Under the policy — expected to be implemented by Penn State President Eric Barron in the fall 2019 semester — Penn State researchers will remain free to submit their work to scholarly journals of their choice. The policy also will not transfer copyright ownership of scholarly works to Penn State. In addition, a waiver option in the policy guarantees that researchers are able to opt out of open access for each one of their publications on an individual-article basis; these waivers would be automatically approved.

Progress toward the new policy began in earnest in April 2015, when the Faculty Senate passed an open access resolution. In 2017, Provost Nick Jones and Dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications Barbara I. Dewey charged a Penn State Open Access Task Force to “investigate and recommend opportunities to promote open and free access to Penn State scholarly output to maximize impact and availability of research and establish Penn State as a leader in the international Open Access movement.” The charge included drafting an open access policy for the University and recommending steps to implement the policy.

“The Task Force is working to ensure that the open access policy places minimal burden on faculty,” said Greg Madden, senior advisor for research computing and cyberinfrastructure and co-chair with Estlund of the Open Access Task Force. “It is one of our top priorities to implement a system that does not lead to any difficulty by Penn State faculty in placing articles into journals, regardless of the journals’ OA policies. We will be working hard to create processes that are streamlined with current workflows and transparent for all parties involved.”

The task force also was charged to recommend a “suite of strategies to advance the Open at Penn State Initiative,” which have been implemented. Open at Penn State, found at, supports University researchers in addressing and advancing affordable, discoverable and equitable access to information, scholarly research, educational resources and research data within the University community.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.