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Tuwhera: how being open is the key to scholarly communications

Tuwhera – ‘be open’ in te Reo Māori – is AUT’s first open access scholarly journal publishing service, launched in October 2016 with two peer-reviewed, AUT-edited titles. What makes Tuwhera different from other similar services offered by academic libraries is its future focus.

Tuwhera as a project was initiated with the objective of supporting both established AUT researchers and new and emerging researchers. We now envisage Tuwhera playing a leading role in the open access scholarly communications network, one that could be catalytic in influencing the institutional culture around open access, research dissemination and impact assessment with potentially far-reaching implications for policy in Aotearoa.

Tuwhera (‘be open’) is AUT’s Open Access journal publishing platform. It officially launched in October 2016. The project to create Tuwhera was based on a feasibility study carried out by senior staff at AUT Library in 2014. That report explored the possibilities of developing an open access scholarly journal publishing service to meet the needs of academics within the university seeking new ways to make their journals more visible and accessible.

A number of proprietorial and open sources hosting solutions were investigated with the Library selecting Open Journal Systems as the product on which to build the platform. The Library successfully bid for AUT Capex funding for the project and work began in February 2016.

The project was led by the Library’s Scholarly Communications team, established as an outcome of an organisational review of its Digital Services unit and in recognition of an emerging and significant area for academic libraries. The project team connected with key stakeholders across the university, including ICT, the Research and Innovation Office and a wide range of academic staff.

The name, Tuwhera, emerged early on in the project, giving the service not only a point of difference but an identity which acknowledges AUT’s commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi. The name was chosen in consultation with Māori representatives within the University and when the platform was officially launched, the event was marked by appropriate tikanga.

If Tuwhera’s initial aim was simple, then its vision has evolved to be much more expansive. The principles and values underpinning Tuwhera have inspired a great deal of interest within the University and have opened up numerous possibilities for scholarly communications at AUT. In realising those possibilities, Tuwhera is positioning itself as a key player in driving the Open Access movement and influencing the research culture in Aotearoa New Zealand.