MSA pushes open access materials

Some professors might need convincing to support the program, senators say.

The Missouri Students Association Senate passed a resolution in support of the use of open access materials at its meeting Wednesday evening.

“Open access materials are materials the author has put out for anyone to use,” MU Bookstore Media Coordinator Heather Tearney said.

There are different levels of the open access materials program, Tearney said. Such levels include no fees and the ability to edit the author’s work, changing the author’s work for a fee and viewing material free of change without the option of changing the material.

“You can put information out there for other people to build on,” Tearney said. “It's like building blocks – more and more information can be compiled to help other people grow and learn.”

The resolution states “open access materials and publishing present a great opportunity for students to receive the same academic quality of textbooks at a lower cost to the students.”

“Open access may be free but there are cases when you need to pay nominal fees,” Tearney said. “Some materials you can view online for free, and if you wanted to print it off you would need to pay a fee.”

Academic Affairs Chairman Everett Bruer said big publishers are the cause of high textbook prices, and the bookstore works to achieve lower textbook prices.

“Open access is a way to get information out to the world without having to go through the traditional publisher or distributor,” Tearney said.

It will be difficult to convince professors to change to open access, Bruer said.

“It will be tough to convince faculty members to move from the status quo,” Bruer said. “Getting some professors to switch over will help out.”

A small number of professors know about open access materials right now.

"The bookstore and a few of the professors are in favor of open access materials,” Bruer said. “They take advantage of publishing through the bookstore."

Professors needed to submit their textbook orders for next semester by March 31, so it is not expected many will use open access materials in the fall.

“We can't properly inform faculty and students since it is so late in the semester,” Tearney said. “We want to take a little time to educate them. Decisions have already been made for next semester, so we can talk about it a lot during the fall and explain how it affects students for the better.”

The main classes that could benefit from the open access program are math, science and other hard science classes, Bruer said.

“Depending on the book, everything is the same,” Bruer said. “Equations don't change. Why buy all these expensive textbooks when all the information is the same?"

The next step for the resolution of the use of open access materials is to present it at the joint session senate meeting next week.

“I want other student leader organizations involved,” Bruer said. “I want as many different student leaders' signatures on it as possible.”

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