Sustainable Scholarship at the University of South Florida

The University of South Florida Libraries offer services to make scholarship sustainable, transparent, equitable, and open.  The Libraries’ permanent collections in digital and print formats and providing “just in time” access to materials not owned by the library through alternative sources ensure that faculty and students have the resources needed for their academic success.


Scholars depend on a complex international publishing infrastructure to share research and to remain current in their fields. In the past, academia entrusted publishing to learned societies, university presses, and not-for-profit publishers. Libraries subscribed to journals from these publishers at reasonable costs.

Today, commercial publishers dominate the scholarly publishing market. They have purchased many of the world’s leading scientific journals and have instituted new subscription models driving the cost of scholarly information to outpace the rate of inflation and exert great strain on library and institutional budgets.

This problem is not simply a financial one. Universities, research funders, and the academic community recognize that publishing research in expensive journals limits the growth of new knowledge by limiting access to important findings to those who can pay for the privilege. Unaffordable subscription prices and high paywalls keep taxpayers from reading and accessing the very research that they have paid for with their tax dollars.

How Can You Help?

The USF Libraries’ budget is not immune from the ravages of the escalating costs of scholarly publications, so like many institutions, we are working to balance acquisition of permanent collections with providing access to a broader range of resources for the university’s scholarly community in an affordable and sustainable manner.

There are ways that you can increase the impact and citations of your work while simultaneously helping the library. This involves being creative both in accessing resources that we might not own and in making your own work openly available for other researchers.  Below are some resources and suggestions.

  • Make your journal open access or start a new OA journal

The OA citation advantage

Open Access publishing has been shown to have a citation advantage. Studies suggest that there is a correlation between more citations and articles published open access, higher for green open access. These articles are available for free worldwide–not behind paywalls–so they are more easily accessible.

At USF, a study by Jason Boczar and LeEtta Schmidt showed a citation advantage in seven USF departments (Anthropology, Geosciences, World Languages, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Educational and Psychological Studies, and History). The results of the study show that OA published articles for these seven departments had greater citations on average than non-OA articles, although it varied by discipline. The citation advantage was higher for Geosciences and Chemistry. For more information about the study, please see Analyzing Faculty Open Access Publishing: A citation analysis of select colleges at the University of South Florida.

Our Collection Management Principles

Collection development at the USF Libraries are guided by the principles of the American Library Association which includes the Library Bill of Rights, The Freedom to Read Statement, Freedom to View Statement, and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Intellectual Freedom Principles.

A review of the Principles of Membership for the Association of Research Libraries, Procedures for Membership in the Association of Research Libraries, current University of South Florida Strategic Plan, and the USF Libraries Strategic Directions has provided general guidelines for the development of more specific collection management statements:

  • Providing broad interdisciplinary collections in all formats in support of research and graduate education in order to contribute to the effective interchange of information among research institutions.
  • Proactively identifying and supporting new academic programs, research grants/projects.
  • Developing distinctive research-oriented collections and resources of national significance in a variety of formats in order to successfully contribute to the shared collection of research resources in North America.

In support of the University’s teaching and research mission, the USF Libraries collect materials in a variety of formats, including print, multimedia, and microform.  Online access to scholarly materials is preferred. The USF Libraries use the most effective and economical methods possible for its collection acquisitions, licensing, and contracting procedures following the ARL Principles for Licensing Electronic Resources.

The USF Libraries work with faculty to acquire new materials for research and teaching. New items considered for inclusion in the collection are reviewed in accordance with the general collecting principles. Non-recurring items such as individual monographs are processed via request or demand-driven acquisition as funds allow and balanced across disciplines as needed.  Requests for new subscriptions requiring recurring annual payments must be carefully evaluated against existing content. Electronic resources are typically available for all USF faculty and students across all campuses.  Our process is guided by the following principals:

  • Continue support of faculty resource needs;
  • Maximize control of the USF Libraries collection budget;
  • End reliance on non-recurring funding sources;
  • Engage faculty in the decision-making process; and
  • Focus collection expenditures on perpetual rather than leased access.

The USF Libraries regularly evaluate the collection and subscribed resources to maintain balanced support of the ongoing curricular and research needs of the university within budgetary allowances.

The acquisitions process for library resources includes the review and assessment of resources within a decision matrix comprised of key elements focused on four perspectives: contribution toward the University’s values and goals for teaching and research; the content, scope, and quality of the resource;  the usage and utility of the resource as experienced by faculty, students, and librarians; and trends in pricing, cost per use, and licensing models, with consideration for alternate methods of access. The USF Libraries’ Collection Management Process is further described on the USF Libraries Collection Management Guidelines