Over the past few years, many of the most prominent American universities, including Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and Duke, have joined to embrace a game-changing approach in opening up their previously closed academic resources. Leveraging the revolutionary potential of digital technology to provide access to the world’s best faculty members, this new method of dissemination takes what were once exclusive, limited-access, high-priced resources and puts them online for anyone to learn from, freely. Despite its somewhat goofy acronym, this new model has been embraced, sometimes in the face of faculty objections, because of its democratizing, globalizing potential, as well as its effectiveness in improving an institution’s reputation for innovation and excellence.
I am, of course, talking about Coapi.
If you haven’t heard of it, the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions, which now comprises more than 40, began in 2011 as a way for colleges to coordinate and advocate for open-access policies, which typically require that all faculty journal publications be made available freely online, whether on a personal Web site, institutional repository, or discipline-specific public archive. Such reforms tend to be driven by a few faculty and staff members (usually librarians and technologists), with a ground-level commitment to open access, who manage to persuade their administrations and colleagues—and by the federal government, which just required that publications from federally supported research be made available freely online.