Open Access Week 2016: An Interview with UC Berkeley’s Scholarly Communication Officer Rachael Samberg

rachael (1)Rachael G. Samberg is UC Berkeley’s first Scholarly Communication Officer, and is leading the charge in developing their scholarly communication program. A Duke Law graduate, Rachael practiced intellectual property litigation at Fenwick & West LLP for seven years before spending six years at Stanford Law School’s library, where she was Head of Reference & Instructional Services and a Lecturer in Law. She joined UC Berkeley in June 2016.

What is your mandate at UCB?

I’m here to build a world-class program supporting scholars throughout the entire knowledge lifecycle. Our mission is to help faculty, staff, and students use, create, publish, and manage scholarly information by providing guidance and training as they research, publish, and teach. This could mean anything from: answering copyright and licensing questions about what scholars include in their publications, helping authors protect their IP rights once they publish, promoting discoverability and recognition of scholars’ research and writing, shaping funding models that will sustain open access scholarly communication, making data and text more available for research and analysis, incentivizing the creation of open educational resources—and much more.

We’ll do all of this with an eye toward helping scholars navigate and maximize their research impact in the changing scholarly publishing landscape. The UC System performs nearly one-tenth of all the academic research and development conducted in the United States, and produces approximately one-twelfth of all U.S. research publications. So, our program’s ability to bring added visibility and support for UC Berkeley scholars’ research and publishing can thus have tremendous global impact, and potentially help us shape national and international policies and practices in scholarly publishing.

Why is OA important to you?

The books, periodicals, and journals in which scholars publish (and that researchers and students around the globe need to access) are nearly out of reach for well-funded institutions, let alone smaller campuses or individuals. They’re expensive and often behind insurmountable subscription paywalls. This publishing system stymies idea exchange.

Open Access publishing—like the kind that UC Press is doing with Luminos, Collabra, and Elementa—helps ensure that scholars can discover and utilize the information they need, and have their work found and used by others—all of which promotes innovation and progress.

What initiatives do you have planned?

 Our program’s first year priorities will be to:

  • Provide support for OA publishing. This means expanding library funding and support for OA publication of all types (monographs, journal articles, data, etc.), supporting national and international initiatives to migrate publishing to OA, promoting UCB scholarship that’s published OA, and conducting outreach and training about OA and scholarly impact.
  • Provide intellectual property rights education. I’m providing both wide-scale and discipline-specific campus education and guidance about the use of licensed and IP rights-protected materials in research, scholarship and instruction. I’m also offering education and guidance on post-publishing author rights retention, and supporting consultations as to all.
  • Explore opportunities to further affordable course content and open educational resources (OERs). We’ll be looking into ways to encourage creation of OERs, and provide education and training regarding incorporating them into instruction and syllabi. We’re also working on promoting library-licensed resources to reduce student course pack and textbook costs.
  • Establish a scholarly communication program website. I’ve been creating a lot of guidance materials in support of all the different educational initiatives for the program. For instance, I’ve developed a copyright and publishing guide for dissertation writers, a workflow for addressing copyright issues in course content, and much more. I’ll be establishing a unified program website that pulls together information about all of the program’s services, and includes this rich, comprehensive content to support scholars and students.

We’ll also be exploring adoption of a profiles system (or, research information management system, as they’re sometimes called) to promote faculty scholarship and encourage OA publishing, and revising library special collections policies to reduce access barriers for publishing and reuse.

What has faculty reception been?

As one indicia of the great need for scholarly communication services on many campuses, I’ve discovered it’s possible to strong relationships with faculty members even without “the campus” as a whole knowing what our program is yet. I’m so grateful that, from the moment I arrived, library staff and various academic departments and programs began referring faculty to me for guidance related to copyright and licensing issues. Even without a program website, I’ve been able to conduct outreach through these individual consultations. If you can provide excellent service—which I aim 1000% of the time to do—word will spread, and you can become an important resource in the academic community.

Any lessons learned to share with other institutions?

Build relationships, listen, and learn. I hit the ground running when I arrived to meet with as many individuals and campus departments as I could, and figure out what services they need. Of course, on a campus this size, that type of work is always ongoing. But from the beginning, by focusing on building relationships, I’ve been able to organize and hold a wide array of trainings to help the scholarly communication program become integrated into the network of campus support services.

For instance, during this OA Week, we have partnered with the UC Berkeley Graduate Division to provide workshops on copyright and publishing issues with dissertations and first books (at which UC Press’s Reed Malcolm spoke), and training on how to track and increase scholarly impact. We have also worked with the D-Lab (data lab) and Digital Humanties@Berkeley to offer unique sessions related to data publishing and DH project preservation. And, we’re looking forward to ongoing partnerships with UC Press to promote OA publications by UC scholars.


This post is in honor of International Open Access Week, October 24–30, 2016.