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Here, I describe several key topics affecting academic libraries and how I could assist faculty with them: data management plans, open access, and intellectual property policy. This was originally written for my Academic Libraries class in the Spring of 2018.

Librarians in research institutions must offer support for teaching faculty, and this service can manifest in a variety of ways. On this page, I examine three particular areas in which I could serve university faculty as a librarian: data management plans, open access, and intellectual property.

Part 1: Research Data Management Plans

Description and Key Issues

The importance of data has grown enormously in recent years, and most people expect that trend to continue. While research literature always presents its findings, it often does not publish the raw data itself. This can make verifying and reproducing results difficult, time consuming, and expensive for other researchers. When data is made available, it has the added effect of making funding and public support more likely. While researchers tend to shy away from creating formally data sharing policies, in practice, they share their data liberally (Keil, 2014. Informal sharing and preservation is often insecure and unaccountable. Emailing files or copying them onto a thumb drive is not a safe or secure strategy, even if it is the most convenient. But even without a license to share publicly, data must be preserved in an accountable system. A data management plan (DMP) is valuable for outlining exactly how this preservation and sharing will take place.

A DMP will specify how and where the data will be stored. It should explain what software or equipment will be used, what file formats, and so on. It will also specify where, or how, the data will be preserved. In addition to the technical aspects of access, a DMP will also clarify licensing. The researcher can grant access and usage rights to the public, retain rights for themselves, an institution, or any other combination.

DMPs are not just a theoretical “best practice” anymore. Institutions and funding agencies often require researchers to draft one before beginning a project. For example, The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Endowment for the Humanities require data management plans for submissions (Diekema, Wesolek & Walters 2014). Despite these requirements, Diekema et al. notes that most faculty are unfamiliar with DMPs and are open to more help from their librarians.

Academic librarians are natural leaders for DMPs. They have the most access to, and usually are in-house experts on, repositories and licensing information. Furthermore, they can more easily see the broad picture across disciplines (MacMillan, 2014). A DMP can be structured like a legal form, so it requires technical know-how to execute properly. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Librarians can aid researchers to follow best practices and choose a plan that works with their needs. Despite this clear opportunity for librarian partnerships, only a small number of academic librarians are supporting data management (Keil, 2014), so this area has room for expansion.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of these lessons, faculty will be able to:

  1. Explain what a DMP is.
  2. Locate DMP resources.
  3. Create a DMP.

Learning Activities

Activity 1: Create a DMP. users would meet with a librarian and walk-through how to create a DMP together with DMPTool. The users would get to see the different templates offered by institutions on DMPTool and what information they would be expected to provide.

The librarian would offer the users three research scenarios to base the DMPs on:

  1. A study of library fine policies, in which the researcher will collect the written policies from a number of public libraries and analyze them based on the amount they charge for overdue items.
  2. A study of sleep habits, where participants will sleep in a laboratory with equipment that monitors their biometrics such as heart rate and REM time.
  3. A study of plant photosynthesis, where the researcher will analyze several different types of trees and how much carbon dioxide they consume.

In each of these cases, the user will have to determine what data will have to be collected, what format it should be stored in, if there would be any sensitive or personal data, and anything else necessary to accurately fill out their DMP.

Activity 2: Identifying Data Types and Stages of Data. This comes from Module 2 of New England Collaborative Data Management Curriculum, which is a comprehensive series of learning modules, lesson plans, and other DMP activities. This particular activity presents a sample case study for researchers, and then asks them questions such as, “what file types/formats might be involved in the study?” and, “for each of the items on your data list, match it to one of the following data stages: Raw data, Processed data, Analyzed data, Finalized/published data.”


DMPTool is a free website that can generate unique DMPs tailored to a researcher’s needs. It uses templates provided by institutions to guarantee that each DMP meets required specifications.

Johns Hopkins University Data Management Services is a hub of tools organized around the different needs of researchers at different points of the research process. Although a lot of it points to resources for John Hopkins University faculty, it also includes other information and links that anyone can use.

Scholarly Communication Toolkit: Research Data Management is an ACRL libguide containing a large and diverse amount of DMP resources. It’s a definite go-to for users new to DMP.


  1. Diekema, A. R., Wesolek, A. Walters, C. D. (2014). The NSF/NIH effect: Surveying the effect of data management requirements on faculty, sponsored programs, and institutional repositories. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 40, 322-331.
  2. Keil, D. E. (2014). Research data needs from academic libraries: The perspective of a faculty researcher. The Journal of Library Administration, 54, 233-240.
  3. MacMillan, D. (2014). Data sharing and discovery: What librarians need to know. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 40, 541-549.

Part 2: Open Access & Institutional Repositories

Description & Key Issues

Open access (OA) is when researchers publish literature in a format freely available to anyone on the internet. It is partially a solution to the so-called serials crisis, where libraries cannot afford the growing number of expensive journals. For this, as well as other reasons, OA has risen in popularity over the past several years.

There are two basic kinds of OA, green and gold. Gold OA is when a journal itself publishes its content freely online. Green OA is when researchers publish the literature themselves, usually by self-hosting or with an institutional repository. When a non-OA journal publishes a work, it will sometimes allow authors to publish their own green-OA version, but usually only after an embargo period, or only a preprint copy.

Libraries are key to facilitating OA publications, because they typically control the repositories which host the literature, and which journals their discovery service can search. Wesolek (2013) says that most researchers are fine with their work being open access, as long as it requires no additional effort from them compared to a traditional publication. He concludes that libraries should make OA publishing as easy as possible for researchers. However, this does mean there will be an additional burden for librarians.

Creating the technology for an OA repository is only the first step. Librarians will have to advocate to get faculty on board, which means adopting an OA policy for their institution. Kern & Wishnetsky (2014) discuss the differences in OA policies. The weakest form is an “encouragement pledge,” which creates no obligation for faculty to publish OA. The strongest type is called Harvard-style, because it resembles the one Harvard uses. It mandates that faculty submit copies to the repository and gives the institution permission to make the work publicly available. McKiel & Dooley (2017) also discuss the details of a Harvard-style, along with the exact Harvard text.

Wesolek (2013) notes that there is no “right” way to implement a policy. It will all come down to the institutional culture and how much work the librarians and faculty are willing to invest. However, successful policies work effectively by educating faculty on OA, and making their participation as easy as possible.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of these lessons, faculty will be able to:

  1. Explain what OA is.
  2. How to recognize OA journal quality.
  3. Understand our institution’s OA policy.

Learning Activities

Activity 1: Open Access Quiz. This online quiz was published by Springer Nature, the academic publisher. It provides an introductory quiz on basic OA concepts, such as “what are the two OA routes called?” and “what does the CC BY license imply?” Users could do this quiz online on the website.

Activity 2: Concepts of Openness and Open Access Quiz. These questions are adapted from the quizzes in the “Concepts of Openness and Open Access” module in UNESCO’s Open Access Curriculum. The curriculum itself is a great source of learning tools for researchers or librarians looking for more in-depth knowledge of publishing and the OA movement. This quiz would be given in a classroom, accompanied by a face-to-face lecture that explains the concepts.

  1. What are the barriers to information access?
  2. What is ‘openness’? What is ‘open access’?
  3. Describe the important milestones in the open access movement
  4. What are advantages and disadvantages of Green OA publishing?
  5. What are advantages and disadvantages of Gold OA publishing?
  6. What is the difference between gratis-libre distinction and green/gold distinction?
  7. Describe the major initiatives and network for Open Access.

Text adapted from UNESCO’s “Concepts of Openness and Open Access.”


Unpaywall is a browser plugin that provides OA versions of non-OA publications. When a user goes to a webpage containing a paywall for an article, Unpaywall will search its database for an OA version and provide a link to that instead.

Open Access and Scholarly Communications is a LibGuide that contains a lot of information about OA, addressing a wide range of topics.


  1. Kern, B., Wishnetsky, S. (2014). Adopting and implementing an open access policy: The library’s role. The Serials Librarian, 66, 196-203.
  2. McKiel, A., Dooley, J. (2017). Changing library operations: Open Access Policies. Against the Grain, 26(6), 82-83.
  3. Wesolek, A. (2013). Bridging the gap between digital measures and digital commons in support of open access: Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love human mediation. Collection Management, 39(1), 32-42.

Part 3: Intellectual Property

Description & Key Issues

Copyright is a big business, and many universities are needing to adjust their infrastructure to cover it. The topic is complex, nuanced, and constantly changing in the courts. It’s usually dangerous to apply heuristic or one-size-fits all policies to copyright issues. Because it’s a field that requires expertise beyond that of most faculty, librarians are especially poised to take on this issue.

Ferullo (2011) argues that it is necessary for universities to open copyright offices, special departments with dedicated staff who are trained in copyright issues. While the exact details of these copyright officers would be left to the administration to decide, there are two main areas of interest: author’s rights and mass digitization projects. Authors, the faculty, are often encouraged to manage more and more of their copyright, rather than just sign it away to a publisher. Many authors are too busy to be interested in managing the legalities of their copyrights. This is where a librarian in a copyright office would enter the picture.

Charbonneau & Priehs (2014) found that close to half of universities have copyright centers or experts. However, Schmidt & English (2015) conclude that copyright instruction is not widespread enough, or in-depth enough, to prepare librarians for the workplace. Copyright often intersects with other library science topics, including the aforementioned DMP and OA issues. Like these topics, librarians are obvious natural leaders in the field. Copyright, as an area of academic librarian focus, is a field that is ready for future expansion.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of these lessons, faculty will be able to:

  1. Know their rights as authors.
  2. Understand the TEACH act (“Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act”)
  3. Know their institution’s copyright policies.

Learning Activities

Activity 1: Copyright Quiz - Online Courses. This quiz from Washburn University covers copyright law as it applies to educators with distance education classes. It’s just five true-or-false questions, but the answers it provides (by clicking “answers” at the bottom) are excellent references that explain the topic. In particular, it clarifies details about the TEACH act. Users could take this quiz online and then check their answers.

Activity 2: Copyright policy quiz. This is a quiz I would put together based on the university’s policy. I use Colorado State University’s copyright guidelines for reference. This quiz would be presented face-to-face with a lecture to clarify the policy.

  1. If a student submits a paper, may a professor use portions of the paper for their own publication? (Answer: false)
  2. Who owns copyright for works created by faculty employed by the university and using university resources? (Answer: the university)
  3. Can faculty can always photocopy materials for their classes? (Answer: false)
  4. Can faculty photocopy up to 10% of a work and in order to fall under fair use? (Answer: false)
  5. The university does not allow photocopying “consumables” such as worksheets. (Answer: true)
  6. Faculty may show a legally-purchased video during teaching activities. (Answer: true)
  7. Who should faculty contact for clarifications about copyright? (Answer: the Copyright Clearance Center)
  8. Faculty always have the right to copy their own publications. (Answer: false)


Intellectual Property Policies for Universities is a searchable database of policies across universities. Faculty can use this to locate policies at their current institution, as well as review differences in other institutions.

Exceptions for Instructors in U.S. Copyright Law is a step-by-step guided tool that helps instructors identify when they can legally use a copyrighted work.


  1. Charbonneau, D. H., Priehs, M. (2014). Copyright awareness, partnerships, and training issues in academic libraries. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 40, 228-233.
  2. Ferullo, D. L. (2011). Managing copyright services at a university. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 51(2), 111-114.
  3. Schmidt, L., English, M. (2015). Copyright instruction in lis programs: Report of a survey of standards in the U.S.A. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41, 7236-743.