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Faculty & Students Join the Drexel Libraries Efforts to Promote Open Access

November 11, 2021

Each year, the Drexel Libraries seeks new opportunities to increase awareness of the benefits of Open Access (OA) across campus as part of its mission to provide cost-effective access to authoritative information and shape future scholarship.

In October, the Libraries continued its work to bring OA to campus by celebrating Open Access Week—an annual, international event that promotes the benefits of free, open access to research. 2021 marks the sixth year the Drexel Libraries has formally celebrated Open Access Week; although the organization has worked to educate the Drexel community about Open Access since the early 2000s and has continuously sought ways to support the adoption of OA at Drexel.

This year, as part of its OA Week activities, the Libraries hosted two new panel discussions, which featured Drexel students, faculty and staff.

Case Study: Adopting Open Educational Resources

Elise Ferer, Librarian for Information Assistance and Undergraduate Learning, moderated the first session, Adopting Open Educational Resources at Drexel University, held virtually via Zoom on Oct. 27.

The panel discussion put the spotlight on four faculty from Drexel’s College of Arts & Sciences who recently created a new Open Educational Resource (OER)—a completely free, online textbook—for the Freshmen English course sequence (ENG 101, 102, 103). Ferer helped guide the faculty to create the OER, offering advice and expert guidance throughout the process.

“The first-year writing program touches every student who comes to Drexel University,” said Fred Siegel, Director of the First-Year Writing Program and Teaching Professor of English, who initiated the project. “This year, I think we had 2,800 new students. These are new students who might use [this OER]. This is a new resource so some [faculty may not be using this yet] but it’s an option. I haven’t heard anyone complain about not having to purchase books for this.”

By creating this OER for the course sequence, professors took the book expense from $100 down to $10. (Students are still required to purchase a copy of The 33rd as part of the course)

Maria Volynsky, Associate Director for the First-Year Writing Program and an ESL Coordinator, also noted the importance of offering a completely online textbook during COVID-19.

“There are a lot of reasons for creating this OER,” she said. “But for certain faculty working with international students, especially during the pandemic, our students were away. [Due to costs and location factors] some students were left without textbooks during the pandemic. It showed us that we need something that students always have access to and don’t have to struggle to access. I wanted to work on this project to help our international students and to help [ensure equal access to course materials.]”

Anne Erickson and Margene Peterson, both Assistant Teaching Professors in the Department of English & Philosophy, also contributed to the OER and participated in the panel discussion. View the OER online and watch the recording of the session.

The Role of Pre-prints & Pre-Print Repositories in OA

During the Libraries’ second OA Week event, Engineering Librarian Jay Bhatt kicked off the event—called Preprints, Open Access, and their Role in Scholarly Communication—by defining pre-prints and pre-print servers. Pre-print articles are scientific articles posted online before peer review. Pre-print servers are publicly available online archives that host pre-prints and their associated data.

Next, Kevin Lisankie, Director of Editorial Services for IEEE, shared a demo of the IEEE pre-print server called IEEE TechRxiv (pronounced "tech archive") to give attendees a sense of what pre-print servers are and how they work and can benefit researchers.

To end the session, Vignesh Perumal, a Drexel University PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics, spoke about his personal experiences using pre-print servers, how they have helped him with his research, as well as some of the drawbacks of pre-prints.

“From the researcher perspective, pre-prints offer an avenue for viewing the latest cutting-edge research that is then open to peer scrutiny,” Perumal said. “[You open yourself up] to constructive criticism and channel you into different directions that enrich the research.”

On the other hand, one of the major drawbacks of posting pre-prints online is that a negative reception may affect an author’s ability to get the paper formally published.

Although OA Week ended Oct. 31, the Libraries work to bring OA to Drexel is far from over. Libraries staff continue their efforts to find new ways to bring OA to campus and to support faculty and staff as they work to use OA for their own teaching and research. Watch the recorded session online.

Visit the Libraries’ resource guide for more information and resources about Open Access and Open Access Week at Drexel. Contact for more information or to discuss adopting Open Access resources in your teaching, research and coursework.