Q&A with Yuan Li, Scholarly Communications Librarian

Yuan Li

Yuan Li, Scholarly Communications Librarian

Bio: Yuan Li

Yuan Li joined Princeton University Library in 2014 from Syracuse University (SU), where she was the Scholarly Communications Librarian since 2011 and built SU’s Scholarly Communication Program and the institutional repository from the ground up. She holds both a Bachelor and a Master of Engineering in Computer Science and a Master in Library Science and Information Studies. Yuan's research interests focus on the changing landscape of scholarly communication, open access, copyright, digital preservation, data management and curation, new models of digital publishing, and digital library at large. Yuan writes, publishes, and presents nationally and internationally.

As a Scholarly Communications Librarian, what does your role entail? 

My role, as a Scholarly Communications Librarian, is three-fold: advocacy, education, and management. The open access (OA) movement started in only the last couple of decades. For many, it is still a new concept. Being an open access advocate on campus, I promote OA and raise awareness of OA by organizing many campus-wide events. To help the campus better understand OA, I provide workshops and teach seminars. I also manage PUL's efforts to support scholarly publication innovations and reforms, ensure the resources and services meet the evolving needs of the campus with respect to open access, supervise and coordinate activities related to the Princeton Open Access policy and the Open Access Repository, and work with the Office of General Counsel to assist faculty and students with copyright questions in research and teaching, especially related to Open Access. The ultimate goal of myself and my office – the Scholarly Communications Office – is to help Princeton authors make their research and scholarship available and visible to the world as much as possible.  

What needs in academia prompted the Scholarly Communications Office to be created in 2014? 

The Scholarly Communications Office was created in 2014 to co-lead with the Office of Information Technology (OIT) the implementation of the University Open Access Policy, which was unanimously adopted by faculty into the Rules and Procedures of the Faculty of Princeton University in 2011. Princeton University Open Access Policy requires that faculty grants the University a non-exclusive right to make available copies of scholarly articles written by its faculty. Open Access Repository is the result of this effort and has been the place for faculty to make their scholarship open access.    

Broadly, what is open access, and why is it important to research and scholarship?

Open access is a broad international academic movement that seeks online access to academic information, such as publications and data, without any financial, legal, or technical barriers other than gaining access to the Internet, itself. Open access is also the term for a new business model for academic publishing that makes research information available online, free of charge, and free of most copyright restrictions. It contrasts with the subscription model, in which information is kept behind the paywall. 

Knowledge exchange is very important to the progress of numerous fields of discipline including science, social science, and humanities, and thus the development of society as a whole. That’s why the publishing industry started in the first place. However, the traditional model of scholarly communication has not caught up to the needs for knowledge exchange nowadays. With rapidly advancing information technology, researchers and scholars expect convenient, free, immediate, online access to the research results they need and to be able to use and re-use those results in new and innovative ways. That’s exactly what open access allows people to do. In a world of open access, people will have no barriers to access or reuse published research and scholarship. Free flow of knowledge exchange will help better advance knowledge, promote progress, and maximize research impact and return on investment. 

In what ways does Princeton University Library support open access for Princeton and other scholars? 

PUL supports open access in a number of ways. The Library has a membership with open access publishers, such as MDPIBMC/Springer OpenOpen Book Publishers, so that Princeton authors receive a discount when choose to publish as open access with those publishers. The Library helps the author at the end point now as well by providing the OA Fund. With the fund, Princeton authors will be able to publish their research directly in open access, which is freely available online to the world. The Library also supports many open access initiatives and programs nationally and internationally, such as SCOAP3arXivKnowledge UnlatchedSouth Asia Open Archive, and the Open Library of Humanities. We are of the position that we provide as much help and support as we can to give access to the information, no matter if it’s from the user’s end or from the production point. It’s all about access to the information and information sharing.

What is the Open Access Repository, and how does it serve Princeton researchers? 

Open Access Repository (OAR) provides a platform for collecting, sharing, and archiving scholarly and creative works authored by members of Princeton University community. The goal of the repository is to make Princeton research and scholarship available and visible to the widest possible audience and to preserve them for long-term use. The repository is developed jointly by the Library and OIT, and is managed and maintained by the Library.

The Scholarly Communications Office recently launched the Princeton Open Access Publication Fund. What challenges in research does the fund address?

The OA fund aims to help underwrite reasonable publication charges for fee-based Open Access (OA) publications by Princeton authors when other funding sources are unavailable. Funding OA publication charges removes barriers to open access publishing practices and promotes the value of OA to scholarship, research, and creative output. The fund aligns the investment in OA with the core mission and values of the Library and University, as well as the Library’s strategic priorities. 

What is the intended audience for this resource?

OA fund is available to anyone affiliated with Princeton University who publish scholarly or creative works, particularly those from underrepresented groups such as graduate students, junior faculty, and researchers in the humanities and social sciences.

If you would like more information or have any questions about the service, Yuan Li can be reached at yl7@princeton.edu.

Media contact: Barbara Valenza, Director, Library Communications