Skip to Main Page Content

ASU approves Open Access Policy


May 19, 2017

Public access to information is at the heart of a new policy at Arizona State University, the ASU Open Access Policy, which was passed by the University Senate and approved May 3 by University Provost Mark Searle.

The new policy, developed by the University Senate Open Access Task Force, aims to make it easier for ASU faculty and researchers to make their scholarly work more widely available and with fewer restrictions, and is in line with the university’s charter. students walking up steps from Hayden Library Download Full Image

Open access refers to peer-reviewed research that is made accessible to the public at no cost to the user — eliminating traditional copyright restrictions that many argue impede knowledge dissemination.

“ASU is committed to a fundamental principle of accessibility,” the motion statement reads. “This principle of accessibility includes open access to the knowledge generated and created by facul­ty members here at the university. Open Access to the scholarly works produced by ASU faculty members will allow individuals in Arizona, in the United States, and internationally to read journal articles freely and without the need for subscriptions or payment, thus disseminating this knowledge well beyond the typical audience.”

The need for open access

More than 70 universities in the United States, including Harvard, Duke and the University of California system, have adopted open access policies, part of a growing movement that is rapidly transforming the traditional model of scholarly publishing.

Many argue that making scientific data open and accessible carries major benefits for researchers and the public worldwide.

Just last year, ASU scientists were able to demonstrate how to quickly, cheaply and accurately diagnose the Zika virus in remote locations around the world through their research that was made available free online.

Open access articles are also read and cited at a higher rate than those published in traditional journals charging an access or subscription fee.

“One of the reasons we have open access policies is that it’s now a required condition of funding,” said Anali Perry, the scholarly communication librarian at ASU Library. “Many funding organizations — the NIH, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — now mandate open access for research they are supporting. In other words, they want the results of the research they’re funding to be openly available to anyone in the world.”

Perry says open access makes sense for everyone, but particularly for ASU.

“With our focus on access, impact and social justice, this policy really reflects our ASU values and is one way of advancing our philanthropic goals and demonstrating return on investment,” Perry said. “The latest health research coming out of ASU could very well help a doctor in Cambodia, who might not be able to pay $50 per article to make a better medical decision for a patient.”

How the policy works

The open access policy at ASU is like no other — what Perry describes as a “hybrid policy.”

This means that while all ASU faculty and researchers are supported by the policy and encouraged to make their work openly accessible, they have the right to choose to comply with the policy if open access is not a condition of funding.

“If you are funded by an agency that has an open access requirement, like the NIH, you are automatically covered by this policy, meaning you immediately grant ASU permission to make the research publicly available in the appropriate repository, such as PubMed Central, as well as the ASU Digital Repository,” Perry said. “If you’re not required by a funding organization to make your work available, then you have the option to grant this open access license to ASU on a case-by-case basis.”

Perry said the new ASU policy gives faculty the right to archive, at the very least, the final accepted manuscript of their journal articles in the ASU Digital Repository, the online platform managed by ASU Library to archive and share the university’s scholarship.

“The University Senate is proud to support open access as part of ASU’s fundamental commitment to the discovery and application of new knowledge to local, regional, national and global concerns,” said Arnold Maltz, an associate professor in the W. P. Carey School of Business, who is the incoming University Senate president. “Our members look forward to taking advantage of this policy to continue to make a positive difference in communities throughout the world.”

Where to get help

ASU Library will be working with Knowledge Enterprise Development and the Office of the Provost to help streamline processes in an effort to make open access an easy and attractive option for ASU researchers.

“At the library, we can work with faculty to help them identify what publishers make complying with open access policies easy and painless, and help them understand their publication agreements and self-archiving rights and options,” Perry said. “We can help faculty archive their work and ensure compliance with both the ASU policy and their funding agency requirements.”

For questions about the new open access policy, view the Open Access Task Force’s FAQs, email Anali Perry and visit her scholarly communication library guide

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

Microengineering a heart attack


May 19, 2017

Organ-on-a-chip has been a flourishing field in biomedical engineering in recent years. Researchers create microengineered chips — such as lung-on-a-chip, artery-on-a-chip and kidney-on-a-chip — that behave like human organs. These chips simulate the biological activities of a specific organ, making them ideal for studying the organ’s behaviors and for performing drug screening studies.

But Assistant Professor Mehdi Nikkhah is encouraged by the possibility of taking microengineered chip research in a slightly different direction. Rather than creating a heart-on-a-chip to understand the function of the heart, what if researchers could create a heart attack-on-a-chip to better understand a leading killer in the U.S.? Portrait of Mehdi Nikkhah in his lab with a caption of "Assistant Professor Mehdi Nikkhah's vision of a microengineered chip to better understand hear attacks is being rewarded bt the National Science Foundation with a CAREER Award totaling $500,000 over Assistant Professor Mehdi Nikkhah's vision of a microengineered chip to better understand heart attacks is being rewarded by the National Science Foundation with a CAREER Award totaling $500,000 over the next five years. Photo by Jessica Hochreiter/ASU Download Full Image

The National Science Foundation is encouraged by Nikkhah’s vision and is supporting the effort with a CAREER Award totaling $500,000 over the next five years.

Currently, there is a significant shortage of available donor hearts relative to the demand for transplant surgery among heart attack patients. In order to develop treatment or therapies that don’t rely on donations, it is essential to better understand the biological aspects that underlie the condition.

“Imagine what we can learn from a heart tissue model that lives outside of the body and is capable of replicating what the heart experiences during a heart attack,” said Nikkhah, describing his vision for the microengineered chip. “If we can understand the biology better, then we can develop better therapeutic treatments.”

This research could grow to include the possibility of mimicking other types of diseases, such as arrhythmia. As a high schooler in Tehran, Iran, Nikkhah says he always dreamed he would become a doctor.

“I was fascinated with the idea of saving lives,” he said.

When he discovered the field of biomedical engineering and enrolled in his master’s program he felt that his childhood ambition could still be realized.

“I go to a lot of hospitals these days to meet with research collaborators and physicians. I’m not always working directly with patients, but I do interact with their family members,” Nikkhah said. “I frequently pass by the emergency room and the work of health care is my passion, and these experiences touch me.”

Nikkhah believes his research was notable to the National Science Foundation for a few reasons. He says the novelty of creating the first heart attack on-a-chip was certainly noteworthy.

“Lots of proposals can be innovative, but we were also detailed,” said Nikkhah, who works closely with cardiologist Dr. Raymond Migrino from the Phoenix VA Medical Center.

"This collaboration enabled me to be very specific about the biological details of the proposal,” Nikkhah said.

In addition, Nikkhah finds the education and outreach aspect of his work highly motivating, and it was well-detailed in his proposal. He worked with Tirupalavanam Ganesh, associate research professor and Assistant Dean of Engineering Education, for two years to define the outreach component of this research, which includes the creation of summer workshops for high school students — many of them from underrepresented groups — to come work in Nikkhah’s lab.

“An important part of this research effort is the opportunity to educate young students on the biological fundamentals of heart diseases and how technologies can come to the rescue,” Nikkhah said.

Rose Gochnour Serago

Communications Program Coordinator, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering