Mary Ann Jones is the Scholarly Communication Services Coordinator at Mississippi State University. She recently took part in our “Five Questions” series to tell us about her new role.
1. Describe your current scholcomm position?
My current position is to coordinate the Scholarly Communication Services at the Mississippi State University Libraries. I moved into this position July 1, 2019 from my previous position of Coordinator of Electronic Resources and Acquisitions, so the transition is still happening and I’m still learning about my new role. In this position, I work to bring awareness to campus of all scholcomm elements including open access, open educational resources, data management, copyright, author’s rights, impact metrics, researcher identification, etc. Currently, I’m an office of one, but have many resources at my disposal from research librarians, special collections librarians, digital media specialists, instructional technologists, etc., I could not do scholarly communication outreach without the rest of the library to back me up. Outreach and teaching are my primary concentrations while I get my feet wet and learn about all that is involved with being a ScholComm Librarian.
2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?
Money! In my previous position I was hands on with the rising cost of resources and my first passion for scholcomm was open access to research. I stayed frustrated at the cost of journals and the lack of access we were able to provide. Constant review of journals and cancellations to stay in budget became the primary focus of managing electronic resources, so advocating for open access was logical. It wasn’t until MSU started our scholarly communication initiative in 2014 that I got involved in other aspects of scholcomm when I chaired the Institutional Repository committee. Once I was more attuned to the myriad of other scholcomm issues I was “all in” and wanted to do more. When MSU hired our first scholarly communication librarian I started learning from her and getting more involved in teaching other scholcomm areas resulting in where I am today!
3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I’m still learning, but so far, it’s been the enthusiasm from the Student Association to partner with the library on an Open Educational Resources proposal to the University administration. Working with the SA president and seeing his commitment to bringing OERs to campus has helped jump start administration awareness of the need for not only OERs, but other scholcomm issues like open access and open data. I’ve also been fortunate that I am the current Vice President of Faculty Senate, so I’ve had additional occasions to address administration about scholcomm issues. Using OERs as a gateway into a more robust conversation, I’ve been able to address the need for administration to support other areas of scholarly communication; consequently, an open data initiative discussion is now happening with our Office of Research and Economic Development. I’m just getting started, but I already feel rewarded just by having the opportunity to advocate for open research issues.
4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
I would wave that magic want and do away with predatory publishers. In my short time as a scholcomm librarian, the greatest barrier I’ve encountered to open access is by far the reputation of predatory publishers. Even above and beyond the notion of article processing charges, how to avoid predatory publishing is the most often asked question and concern of authors. Researchers simply want to disseminate their research but are afraid of open access due to the reputation predatory publishing has in the rank and file faculty population. I truly believe that if predatory publishing was a non-issue, open access would be easier for researchers to accept and even advocate for in their fields of expertise.
5. If you were not a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
As a librarian, I most likely I would still be the Coordinator of Electronic Resources and Acquisitions. Not as a librarian? Maybe PR or some other area of communication in either politics or corporate human resources.