Published: Oct. 23, 2017

world map showing readership and downloads from CU Scholar

Readership map of total downloads by region from CU Scholar, our institutional repository.

While most undergraduate projects get filed away after being graded, some are shared hundreds or even thousands of times. For example, CU Boulder alum Kerry Doran's Undergraduate Honors Thesis has been downloaded over 13,800 times by researchers from as far as Auckland, New Zealand and Fairbanks, Alaska.

How did Doran’s research spread across the globe? By publishing her work in CU Scholar, the University of Colorado Boulder’s institutional repository. Institutional repositories are digital archives that provide free and unrestricted access to the scholarly output produced by an institution. Researchers can upload their work to CU Scholar to see the impact of their scholarship soar.

This week, Oct. 23-29, students and faculty alike will be learning more about openly accessible scholarship as CU Boulder celebrates International Open Access Week. While some are unaware of the rewards of Open Access publishing, many others like Doran have reaped the benefits by participating in the Open Access initiatives, led by the University Libraries..

Repositories like CU Scholar are especially beneficial to undergraduate students who, compared to faculty, often have fewer opportunities to publish their work. One way undergraduates can participate in open access is through the Arts and Sciences Honors Program. Since 2014, Undergraduate Honors Theses have been included in CU Scholar, and since then have been downloaded over 455,000 times. Not to be left out, graduate students have the option to include their theses, dissertations, and publications in CU Scholar, which can increase the visibility of their research in their field. Repositories also spread academic research to the public by freeing content from expensive journal and database subscriptions.

CU Boulder committed to the philosophy of open access to research when the Faculty Assembly voted to approve a campus-wide open access policy in 2015. The faculty granted CU Boulder nonexclusive, worldwide license to the scholarly work of its faculty. The nonexclusive nature allows faculty to retain full ownership, including the right to further publish where they wish, but it also ensure that all research produced by the university will be accessible to people around the world via our institutional repository, CU Scholar.

The University Libraries also support open access on campus through the Open Access Fund. Faculty, staff and students may request funding up to $2,000 per year to pay for reasonable article processing or publishing fees charged by full open access publishers. To date, 74 articles by CU faculty and graduate students have been published through the Open Access Fund.

Interested in learning more about Open Access? Stop by the display in Norlin's Research Area or come to any of our Open Access Week events!