Academic Libraries

The Role of Academic Libraries in Promoting Scholarly Communication Literacy: An Exploration of Open Access, Researcher Identity and Social Impact

Academic librarians, apart from serving the information needs of the academic community and promoting information literacy, also play a vital role in informing researchers about research impact, social impact, and other metrics, including those related to Open Access (OA) — we refer to this as scholarly communication literacy. Additionally, university libraries typically implement and manage institutional repositories, where researchers are expected to self-archive their outputs.

UTS Library is responsible for creating and maintaining the repository of the research outputs of UTS scholars and researchers, and the university mandates that all researchers must deposit an OA version of their work. Despite this requirement, we find that the adoption rate is low, and awareness of OA varies between faculties and departments.

This project brings together library practitioners and LIS researchers to explore issues related to the perceptions and adoption of OA, not just in the publishing process, but also through self-archiving of works in their institutional repository. Simultaneously, we will study academics’ perceptions of researcher identity, research impact, and social impact as it relates to open access. The project uses an action research approach through a collaborative inquiry between academic researchers and academic librarians, with the aim of further developing open access practices at our institution. The project will use interviews and case studies to collect data, while also disseminating our findings through customised workshops within faculties based on disciplinary preferences and trends.

Given broader trends in the sector and increasing demands from funders for researchers to disseminate the results of their research in a publically accessible format, open access practices are becoming an increasingly important aspect of the scholarly communication landscape. We aim to bring this conversation to the foreground at UTS through our project.

Since the issues faced by the UTS Library are very similar to those encountered at other Australian universities, the outcomes and outputs of this project are relevant to a wider audience.

Project Team

Edward Luca is an Academic Liaison Librarian at the University of Sydney, where he supports the Faculty of Pharmacy. Previously, Edward was Communication Officer at UTS Library and promoted library services including UTS ePRESS, and the institutional repository, OPUS.

Bhuva Narayan is a Senior Lecturer within the School of Communication in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). She coordinates the Information and Knowledge Management (IKM) Program, including the Master of Digital Information Management.

Mal Booth is the University Librarian at UTS Library. Mal is well known as an advocate for openness and new models of scholarly publishing.

Belinda Tiffen is Director of Library Resources at UTS with responsibility for the library’s publishing and open scholarship initiatives. Belinda is a champion of open access publishing.

Ashley England is Team Leader of the Arts & Social Sciences Team and the Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation at UTS Library, which provides specialist research and teaching advice for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building.


Learn about the project’s findings:

Narayan, B., Luca, E., Tiffen, B., England, A., Booth, M., & Boateng, H. (2018). Scholarly communication practices in humanities and social sciences: A study of researchers’ attitudes and awareness of open access. Open Information Science, 2(1), 168-180.