This fall, the Penn Libraries will begin exploring open source options for hosting Penn’s institutional repository, ScholarlyCommons, which provides free and open access to scholarly works created by Penn faculty, staff and students.
For 13 years, Penn Libraries has hosted ScholarlyCommons on the platform Digital Commons, which we contract from the commercial company bepress. Through ScholarlyCommons and other initiatives, the Penn Libraries has enabled Penn authors to lower barriers to accessing scholarship, publish new research, and take advantage of library services that benefit not only our own community but those around the world. For 13 years, bepress was a partner in this endeavor.
In August, bepress sold their company to Elsevier, a business with a history of aggressive confidentiality agreements, steep price increases, and opaque data mining practices. In their acquisition of bepress and other companies like SSRN and Mendeley, Elsevier demonstrates a move toward the consolidation and monopolization of products and services impacting all areas of the research lifecycle.
We are worried about the long-term impacts from these acquisitions and are concerned that such changes are not in the best interests of the library community. Therefore, we feel obligated to begin exploring alternatives.
With this decision, the Penn Libraries hopes to provide a better solution for openly sharing Penn’s scholarship and asserting author rights. We believe that scholarly research should be made freely available for the greatest global and local good. We wish to support a scholarly ecosystem in which authors can decide how to publish their work, and we will continue to provide platforms for Penn authors who find their work has greatest impact when it is shared openly and without barriers.
We call on the academic community to join us in this endeavor—to partner with us, to collaborate, and to find solutions that align with our values as researchers, libraries, and universities and serve our collective communities’ needs.
You can follow this journey on our Operation beprexit blog.