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Open Access & Universities, 28/09/15

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OA Policies

Universities and Funding Agencies Open Access Policies

Universities Open Access Policies and Mandates

Creating institutional repositories is only a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition for providing Open Access. Only about 15% of institutional research output is being self-archived spontaneously today. It is helpful to provide incentives to self-archive, such as, download statistics, publicity, help from librarians in depositing, or even small financial incentives. But several studies have shown that incentives also are not sufficient and can only increase self-archiving to about 30%. The only successful way to guarantee 100% self-archiving is for universities and research funders to make the self-archiving of published research articles an administrative requirement: a mandate. Universities and research funders already mandate publishing itself, as a condition of employment and funding (“publish or perish”), in order to maximize research usage and impact in the paper era. A self-archiving mandate is just a natural extension of the existing publishing mandate, for the web era. International surveys of researchers in all disciplines have already found that 95% of researchers would comply with a self-archiving mandate.

More than 600 universities and research institutions from around the world have already adopted and have officially registered in the relevant international registry (Registry of Open Access Repository Material Archiving Policies – ROARMAP) a policy of open access to the publications of their members. The European University Association (EUA), headquartered in Brussels, has over 800 members in 46 countries. In January 2007 it established a Working Group on Open Access, under the chairmanship of Professor Sijbolt Noorda, to convene for a year and provide expert opinion and a voice for European universities as stakeholders in the public debate about Open Access. The pressure to do this came from member universities that wanted the EUA to work for Open Access at a European level in Brussels. The Working Group developed a set of recommendations regarding the peer-reviewed published research literature, based on the following core premises: the university’s role and responsibility as guardian of research knowledge as a ‘public good’; the results of publicly-funded research should be publicly-available as soon as possible; and quality assurance peer review processes are preconditions for scholarly publishing and therefore essential to be maintained in the digital publishing mode.

Indicatively below you can see the official policies (mandates) for open access of some universities in USA, UK and Europe:

Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Harvard Business School
Princeton University
University of California

University of Southampton
Manchester Metropolitan University
University of Sussex
Cardiff University
Loughborough University

University of Liège (Belgium)
University of Minho (Portugal)


Funding Agencies Open Access Policies and Mandates

Not surprisingly, governments and funding agencies around the world are recognizing that dissemination of research results is part of the research process itself. Many are implementing or exploring policies to facilitate the sharing of information and realize the benefits of digital scholarship. For example:

  • The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy requires that its funded investigators deposit their final peer-reviewed manuscripts in PubMed Central, NIH’s online digital archive, for free public access within 12 months of journal publication. NIH also allows grant funds to be used to pay journal publication fees. (See the Association of Research Libraries’ guide to the policy.)
  • The Canadian Institutes of Health Research requires that all research papers from its funded projects are freely accessible online within six months of publication and that bioinformatics, atomic, and molecular coordinate data be deposited into a public database immediately upon publication of research results.
  • Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has endorsed the principle of open access and is moving to increase awareness, pursue discussions with major stakeholders, and gradually incorporate open access provisions in research support programs.
  • Wellcome Trust, the UK’s largest private biomedical research funder, requires grantees to submit an electronic copy of the final manuscripts of their research papers into PubMed Central. It also provides grantholders with additional funding to cover publication fees charged by open access journals.
  • The Research Councils UK supports the principle that “knowledge derived from publicly funded research must be made available for public use.” Several of its component funding councils have implemented policies asking or requiring their grantees to deposit journal articles and conference proceedings in open online archives when appropriate archives are available and copyright or licensing arrangements permit.
  • Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market. The European Commission took a big step towards open science in Europe. All projects receiving Horizon 2020 funding will have the obligation to make sure any peer reviewed journal article they publish is openly accessible, free of charge.