At a rural land-grant university, the engineering librarian and scholarly communications librarian have been working to understand the complex relation between open access publishing and faculty expectations. When exploring this idea, the librarians found that promotion, rank, and tenure (PRT) guidelines have long been identified as a crucial factor in the perpetuation of particular publishing practices (Ellis, 2019; Hilstob, 2017; Odell, Coates, & Palmer, 2016; Wical & Kocken, 2017). Although librarians and open-access advocates have frequently discussed PRT as a barrier to open access, engineering faculty have rarely been approached as a group to glean their views on opportunities and challenges involved in changing these guidelines. To meet the need for a better understanding of engineering faculty’s publishing process, the first goal of this study was to collect responses from engineering faculty at a land-grant university about the role of promotion, rank and tenure (PRT) guidelines as they relate to individual publication practices. The second goal of the study was to take a holistic approach and examine engineering faculty’s overall criteria during the publication selection process as it relates to formal and informal publishing. The librarians acknowledge that faculty take into account more than one set of guidelines when choosing where to publish; therefore, by exploring PRT in tandem with other criteria for selecting publications, the authors expect to gain a deeper understanding of current publishing practices within engineering. Using this deeper understanding, the engineering librarian and scholarly communications librarian plan to educate departments, colleges, and the university leadership to work towards a more open and equitable scholarly landscape. While some larger institutions have spoken out about these issues in statements such as the Big Ten’s “Sustaining Values and Scholarship,” this project will focus on the perspectives of specific faculty at a public land-grant institution and will, thus, contribute to an understanding of the issues at play and possibilities for future advancement in PRT guidelines.
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