A VCU Libraries-led project is one of 18 projects that won support from the university’s Presidential Research Quest Fund. The 2021 Quest fund awarded $512,000 for research efforts on both the Monroe Park and MCV campuses, including in business, the sciences, public affairs, education, the health sciences, social work, engineering and pharmacy.
This is the first time VCU Libraries has received Quest funding. The project received $20,000.
Open Educational Resources Librarian Jessica Kirschner, leads the interdisciplinary and cross-campus collaboration between VCU Libraries and the VCU School of Education. The research team includes two other VCU librarians, Sergio Chaparro, Ph.D., behavioral and social sciences research librarian, Hillary Miller, scholarly communications librarian, in partnership with Jose Alcaine, Ph.D., director of research services and affiliate assistant professor in the School of Education.
The project, “Investigation into the Impact of Promotion and Tenure on Engagement within Open Practices at the School of Education,” aims to investigate the influence of factors, including promotion and tenure, on faculty engagement with open practices in their teaching and scholarship at the School of Education. This study will serve as a pilot to inform and pave the way for future research that will expand the investigation to other disciplines and other institutions.
“This project aims to explore what motivates, or, alternatively, prevents, faculty from publishing open access articles and books or creating open educational resources,” Kirschner says. “If we better understand the factors that influence faculty to create or collaborate with others in making open materials, VCU Libraries and other academic units can strenghten systemic support for these efforts and potentially work to remove barriers. We hope that one day, open practices will be commonplace, so that research and teaching materials can truly benefit the common good.”
Open practices involve the use, creation and dissemination of scholarship and teaching materials that are free to access, including publishing an open access article and customizing or creating an open educational resource (OER). Open access materials are freely accessible, sharing scholarship broadly and therefore providing sound stewardship of public and private philanthropic dollars. OER, or free and openly-licensed course materials, also directly impact students, who save money in textbook costs.
While faculty engagement with open practices is increasing, some barriers to widespread participation remain, including how these practices are (or are not) valued within promotion and tenure policies and procedures. The research team seeks to identify those barriers in an effort to increase faculty engagement, grow related VCU Libraries services, and enable VCU to fully realize the benefits of open practices to advance learning, innovation, discovery and translation of knowledge into real-world impact. Such benefits align with VCU's Quest 2025: Together We Transform plan and the initiatives of the newly launched One VCU Strategic Research Priorities Plan, a priority of the Presidential Research Quest Fund.
According to Kirschner, the team also hopes that this project and the receipt of Quest funding will help build a foundation for increased capacity for VCU Libraries to secure external research funding and to establish research partnerships between librarians and faculty in varied academic units.
Since the Quest fund was founded in 2014, it has supported more than 100 projects, with recipients making more than 241 presentations, publishing more than 200 peer-reviewed papers, and receiving over $25.3 million in subsequent state, federal, private and industry funding in the academic years 2016-21.
The news story is adapted from an article published by University Public Affairs.
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