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KU Libraries announce recipient of 2nd annual open access award

Friday, October 16, 2015

KU Libraries are pleased to announce Dr. John Symons as the 2015 recipient of the Shulenburger Award for Innovation & Advocacy in Scholarly Communication.

Granted annually, the Shulenburger award recognizes KU staff, faculty, students and academic departments that demonstrate outstanding efforts to facilitate open access by creating channels for public communication between scholars and community members across the globe. Former KU Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor David Shulenburger, a longtime advocate for open access, established the award with a private gift in 2014 to recognize exceptional advocacy and innovation in the scholarly communication system.

Multiple strong nominations were received; however, the committee noted Symons’ commitment to both international and local open access efforts as evidence that Symons is a worthy recipient of this year’s honor. The current chair of the Department of Philosophy, Symons’ work demonstrates remarkable commitment, fostering a culture of openness by pioneering open access opportunities into the humanities.

“We are thrilled to name Dr. Symons as this year’s winner of the award,” said Ada Emmett, director of the University of Kansas Libraries’ Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright. “His efforts expand the interest in and benefits of openness into the humanities in far reaching ways, increasing the visibility of important scholarship and affecting current and future scholars, as well as the citizen-scholars world-wide.”

Locally, Symons spearheaded efforts to move Auslegung, the student journal of philosophy, and the Lindley Lectures archive to the fully accessible KU ScholarWorks. Decades of student and guest lectures are now available due to Symons’ diligence and persistence. Symons also collaboratively launched the international Open Access journals Science, Religion, and Culture and Logos and Episteme.

Symons underscored the importance of open access conversations for the future of the humanities and, specifically, in the field of philosophy. “I have worked hard in recent years to support open-access publishing in philosophy, and I think it is vital to the promotion of excellence, but for open-access to succeed, it requires that we change some of our disciplinary norms,” said Dr. Symons. “For example, if candidates for tenure were judged only on the basis of what they regard as their top-three papers (considered independently of publication venue), we would see much more emphasis on quality rather than quantity. There are lots of other ways we could make things change, but this would be a first step.”

Symons was formally recognized at the conclusion of Martin Paul Eve’s lecture entitled “Getting Humanities Research Published and Read: Transformations in the Publication Landscape” on Friday, Oct. 16 in The Commons in Spooner Hall. The event kicked off this year’s Open Access Week at KU.

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