Faculty Members Who Teach Online: A Phenomenographic Typology of Open Access Experiences

The open access (OA) movement today incorporates a number of different threads reflecting disagreement among information professionals, publishers, institutions and advocates about how OA is defined and facilitated. It is unclear in this environment how faculty members involved in teaching and research construct understanding about open access and what range of understandings among this constituency may currently exist. This paper reports the results of a study using phenomenography to understand the open access experiences and perceptions of faculty members who teach online; a growing subgroup of faculty whose professional context positions themselves and their students differently in relation to subscription-based digital and print-based library collections and support than in a brick-and-mortar educational environment. Faculty members in this group experienced open access in five qualitatively distinctive ways: as resources for teaching; as a publication channel; as a social justice movement; as open source, and asfree for me’. These findings have implications for outreach and communication efforts for university libraries and higher education administrators, and offer insights into the concerns and challenges faced by faculty members while engaging with open access materials.