CU Scholar: An Open-Source Repository of Scholarship

A recent, relatively short article by Joshua Bolkan published in Campus Technology broadly describes a new initiative at the University of Colorado at Boulder:

“The University of Colorado Boulder has gone public with its recent adoption of an open access policy.

“As a result of the new policy, the university will have ‘nonexclusive, worldwide license to the scholarly work of its faculty including published journal articles and conference proceedings,’ according to information released by the school.

“The aim of the policy is to enable global access to research findings to speed scientific discovery, improve educational experiences, enable innovation and stimulate the economy.

“The new policy, similar to those in place at Harvard and the University of California, allows faculty to maintain ownership of their work and makes it available for free via CU Scholar. Users can search by topic, author or sponsoring department or sign up to receive notifications about new work aligned to their interests.” [Bolkan’s article is available at:]

So the university is essentially establishing an open-access catalogue of the scholarship produced by its faculty and students, an alternative falling somewhere in the middle of the current system in which journal publishers own that scholarship and lease it to corporate database providers and some often envisioned future system in which universities cut out the middlemen and, after establishing some sort of peer-review process, publish the scholarship produced by their faculty on their own dedicated websites, thus insuring that they profit fully from the work that they are sponsoring.

I am not sure if the University of Colorado alternative might be accurately described as some sort of transitional stage between the current system and future possibilities, but I was very curious about how it would navigate around the copyright on materials published in journals, never mind in books.

It turns out that the CUScholar website [] includes a list of journals that allows re-postings to repositories without restrictions, after embargo period of various lengthss, and with explicit permission. Most allow the re-postings in PDFs, though a few do require that the re-postings be of the publisher’s version of the materials.

The entire list is available at: It is a fairly lengthy list, but given the number of scholarly journals currently being published, it probably represents only a small percentage of that total. Moreover, at a glance, it appears that there are more journals from outside than from inside the U.S. on the list, and scientific and technical disciplines seem to be much more represented that disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

The same is true, though much more predictably so, in the actual scholarship that is currently available on the site.  For instance, the only departments with any scholarship available from the College of Arts and Sciences are Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences, Classics, Comparative Literature, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Studies, the Honors Program, and Philosophy.

One assumes that the catalogue will expand dramatically if many U.S. journals are willing to allow re-posting of materials to the repository and if a sufficient number of faculty have genuinely bought into the idea of such a repository.


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