Student Embargoes within Institutional Repositories: Faculty Early Transparency Concerns

Libraries encourage students to utilize Institutional Repositories (IRs) to house e-portfolios that demonstrate their skills and experiences. This is especially important for students when applying for jobs and admission into graduate schools. However, within the academic sphere there are legitimate reasons why some faculty-student collaboration efforts should not be documented and openly shared in institutional repositories. The need for the protection of ideas and processes prior to faculty publication can be in direct conflict with the intention for institutional repositories to promote the excellent efforts of students.

This is certainly true in laboratory situations where details of experiments and research areas are guarded for the lifetime of the exploration process. Librarians must work with others to develop guidelines and educational programs that prepare all stakeholders for these new information release considerations. One outcome of such deliberations could be the development of mutually beneficial publication guidelines which protect sensitive details of research yet allow students to submit selective research documentation into an IR.

The other extreme, with no agreed upon partial embargo scenarios, could result in the removal of students from sensitive collaborations. Given the need for scientific laboratories to utilize student workers, and the benefit of real research experiences for students, the academy must find a balanced solution to this inherent conflict situation.