MSI Graduate Student Open Access Fund

MSISC Member and doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology: Daniel Perez.

Daniel Perez is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology. More specifically, Daniel is an archaeologist by training and specializes in the archaeology of the North American Southwest. Daniel has also been involved in archaeological research projects in the Near East for 10 years prior to arriving at UNLV. Daniel serves as a member of the Minority-Serving Institution Student Council (MSISC). He helps promote individual projects as well as collective initiatives and events with other council members–both of which aim to further the mission and research of the MSISC within the university community. Daniel Perez is also the person behind the MSI Graduate Student Open Access Fund. Below is an interview with Daniel about the initiative.

What is the MSI Graduate Student Open Access Fund and what does it represent?

The MSI Graduate Student Open Access Fund is the name of my MSISC initiative. This fund aims to help promote graduate student publications in open access peer-review academic journals by providing up to $1,500 of support to article processing charges (APCs) commonly required by open access journals prior to publication of a research article. Ultimately, the Open Access Fund represents one step in facilitating greater equity for graduate students who are seeking to publish original research and/or pursue a career in academia.

What do you think your work means to historically underrepresented students?

From my perspective, this initiative helps provide access to financial resources applicable towards publishing costs that are otherwise unavailable to graduate students at UNLV and elsewhere. Regarding historically underrepresented students in particular, I think this fund demonstrates a removal yet another impediment to historically underrepresented, or other disenfranchised, students seeking to navigate the world of academia and academic publishing.

How did you come up with the MSI Graduate Student Open Access Fund? What was your thought process?

The idea of launching the MSI Graduate Student Open Access Fund was inspired by the existence of a similar fund available only to tenured or tenure-track faculty at UNLV, the UNLV Open Article Fund–a funding source which was temporarily available to graduate students. As a result of university budgetary cuts, however, graduate students soon lost access to the UNLV Open Article Fund. Following the lack of access to open access publishing funds, my thought process entailed seeking how to help provide continuity for the graduate student community. As a result, in collaboration with the MSISC and the UNLV Libraries, came about my proposal to launch a graduate student-specific publishing fund.

Why should the UNLV community pay attention to this initiative?

The UNLV community should pay attention to this initiative because it represents an active promotion of two of the most widely touted features of UNLV–namely, being an MSI-designated institution and being an R1 (very high research activity) university. From my perspective, these two respective designations are only meaningful insofar as active work is done to promote and expand the reach and significance of these titles. In short, the MSI Graduate Student Open Access Fund is set up as one lever through which the UNLV community can successfully promote the collective MSI and R1 designations.

What is your favorite part of creating the MSI Graduate Student Open Access Fund?

My favorite part in creating the MSI Graduate Student Open Access Fund is the immense gratitude and positive reception the UNLV Libraries and MSISC have received from students who have been awarded funds.

What challenges did you face planning your initiative and how did you overcome them?

Although other challenges may have arisen, the one challenge that was faced in planning the initiative was not knowing how this fund would be received by the graduate student community. In particular, it was difficult not knowing how much money would be required to adequately fund this initiative. The way in which we worked around this was to set up a funding baseline and assess the reception of the initiative. This strategy ended up working well in helping establish student interest and their need for publishing funds.

Who are some people who contributed behind the scenes that you’d like to thank?

I want to thank the UNLV University Libraries for their immense help in managing this fund, both on the front and back ends. Specifically, I owe a debt of gratitude to Andrea Wirth (Interim Head, Scholarly Communication Initiatives of the University Libraries). Andrea helped spearhead this entire project with me, and couldn’t think of anyone better to have been there on the ground floor to set this initiative up for success. I want to extend my deep gratitude to Michelle Shannon (Library Technician II, University Libraries). Since joining the University Libraries in January 2022, Michelle has been instrumental in managing and responding to all submitted applications. Thank you Andrea and Michelle!

You’ve been to several conferences throughout the last year. Can you tell us about the conferences and what you experienced there?

Over the last year, I had the opportunity to attend the Pecos Conference in Mancos, Colorado (August 2021), the Great Basin Anthropological Conference here in Las Vegas (October 2021), and the American Anthropological Association annual meeting in Baltimore (November 2021). Most recently, I attended the annual meeting for the Society of American Archaeology in Chicago (March 2022). At each of these conferences, I either presented a research paper and/or was involved in conducting training in archaeological ethics. Even though all of these conferences included Covid-19 restrictions, I experienced a great opportunity to reconnect with friends and colleagues as well as a vested interest, by everyone in attendance, in presenting original research despite pandemic challenges.

What are some projects that you are currently working on that you’d like to share?

I am currently involved in a couple archaeological excavation projects involving a prehistoric site on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and a historic 18th-century Catholic Church site in Arizona and New Mexico, respectively. In addition to these projects, I am also working on co-editing a book, along with my dissertation advisor and a colleague in the Department of Anthropology, on the archaeology of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

What are some projects that you hope to work on in the future?

In the future, beyond my time at UNLV, I hope to work on more museum-based research pertaining to archaeological pottery–my primary research interest.