Virginia Tech Dean of University Libraries Tyler Walters has been selected to co-chair a steering group that will guide the formation of a proposed network of digital repositories at universities, libraries, and other institutions across the country. 

This network, the SHared Access Research Ecosystem, would provide the public with open, online access to federally funded research and scholarship.

“Most of the scholarship in the United States is generated from university-based research, and most of that is coming from federally funded research,” said Walters. “We believe that universities should assert their role in association with one another as the home of the creation, production, accessibility, and sustainability of scholarship and other forms of research information and data.”

Currently, most research is published in scholarly journals that require costly licenses or subscription fees, limiting access to research that in many cases has been funded through federal tax dollars. In a recent memorandum, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy called for federal funding agencies to make the results of federally funded research available to the public.

The SHARE steering group, a partnership between the Association of Research Libraries, the Association of American Universities, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, says they hope to respond to this memorandum by developing a feasible plan and governance structure for a network of repositories hosted by universities.

“The higher education research community has an abiding interest in ensuring long-term access to its research output, and in seeing the success of state and federal policies that require public access,” said Elliott Shore, executive director of the Association of Research Libraries. “Through SHARE, research libraries and higher education leadership have an opportunity to maximize the impact of funded research by working together to ensure that research output is publicly deposited and accessible.”

With its own institutional repository, VTechWorks, already in place, Virginia Tech’s University Libraries continue to advance the university’s reputation for groundbreaking research and eminent scholarship under Walters’ leadership. Now, Walters will have the opportunity to guide policies that will preserve and provide open access to research and scholarship on a national level.

“Virginia Tech, as many leading research universities are doing, is erecting a new technology and information services infrastructure to facilitate the life cycle of scholarly research information,” Walters stated. “Libraries, with the support and partnership of their universities’ information technology divisions and offices of research, are leading the way in managing the important, unique content created from research.”

Walters will co-chair the group alongside Rick Luce, associate vice president for research and dean of university libraries at the University of Oklahoma. Additional members include Richard McCarty, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Vanderbilt University; MacKenzie Smith, university librarian at the University of California, Davis; Brad Wheeler, vice president for information technology and chief information officer at Indiana University; and Caroline Whitacre, vice president for research at Ohio State University.