Gary Novack was honored by the UC Santa Cruz Foundation, an organization of which he is a past president. Together with past Executive Director Ann McCrow and past president Gordon Ringold, ten year ago he helped to execute the Board Opportunity Fund. This fund provides seed funds to initiate or support short-term campus projects through the Board Opportunity Fund (BOF), established in January 2008. The Foundation accepts proposals that allow faculty and staff to take advantage of unique opportunities to support a strategic project aligned with academic priorities. This may be an incentive for further fundraising or a vehicle for raising awareness and visibility for UC Santa Cruz. In the ten year, over 60 projects and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested. Many of the recipients have gone on to leverage this investment into 5- and 6-figure subsequent grants, providing support for faculty, students and staff. In particular, Dr. Novack was involved in several astronomy and astrophysics projects.
Academic journals have long worked on the “subscription model”, where print subscribers pay to read articles that, for the most part, authors submit for free. With the advent of digital content, the same model has been used – subscribers pay and author provide content for free. There is a shift to “open access”, which typically means that the authors pay upon submission, and readers view for free. Among the first quality journals adopting this model is PLOS One. Other quality journals are moving in this direction, and we are currently in a mixed model paradigm shift, where authors can pay for non-subscribing readers to have free access (“Open Access”). This is not to be confused with “predatory journals” – technically open access journals – but ones that are of low quality.
Universities, through a special application of the subscriber model, pay a subscription fee to allow their faculty and staff to have access to many journals, including those from Elsevier, Wiley, etc. Academic researchers find this tool of high value. For decades, there has been a symbiotic relationship. UC’s researchers contribute quality research for free to quality journals, which in turn publish the “peer-reviewed” paper, key to academic prestige. UC has paid for subscriptions. However, in the paradigm shift, academic authors are starting to have to pay fees – and thus universities are caught in a financial bind. There’s no increase in income for the Universities – yet universities are paying for both subscriptions and author fees for open access. In particular, this has been an issue for the University of California and one of the largest publishers of medical literature, Elsevier. In short, Elsevier’s view of the fees to be paid by the University of California in this transition phase were greater than what UC thought they should pay. This came to a head in January 2019, when it became public that the two were not able to come to a resolution (as discussed in a piece by University of California, Davis, University Librarian, MacKenzie Smith.
Throughout this period, University of California researchers still had access to Elsevier publications. That changed in early July, with Elsevier announcing that they are now stopping that access.
The impact of this decision has yet to be felt or fully comprehended.
(Disclosure – I am an alumnus and professor of the University of California, serve on the UC Davis Library Leadership Board, and an author, reviewer and on the editorial board for Elsevier journals).
I am proud to be a member of the University of California, Davis, Library Leadership Board. The Library Leadership Board plays an essential role in sustaining and enhancing the excellence of the UC Davis Library by advancing the library’s philanthropic goals and priorities. It is the primary volunteer leadership group for the library, which is ranked among the top academic research libraries in North America.
This student video on the 10-year plan for UC Davis, To Boldly Go, has a great plea from a student about 32 seconds in. The student is having trouble finding a place to study in the Library for an upcoming mid-term examination. This is one of the issues we are trying to help – for many students, the Library is the only place they can study. We’re working on other issues as well, including scientific methods for dealing with Big Data in our digital scholarship program.