NSERC Open Access Policy in Development: update

More on the open access policy in development at Canada’s National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC); a presentation by NSERC’s Denis Leclerc’s to the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) AGM, May 15, 2008, on the NSERC Open Access policy in development is available at: http://www.carl-abrc.ca/horaire/2008/d_leclerc_nserc.ppt (thanks to Kathleen Shearer).

OA is seen as a global trend. Governments, universities, and research funding agencies have developed or committed to open access policies. Publishers are adjusting, by experimenting with OA publishing and permitting author self-archiving. The status quo is not an option; there are profound negative consequences to not having an open access policy. The plan is to present an OA policy to NSERC by March 2009. Overall, the policy is likely to be similar to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) policy, with some important innovations under consideration. One very innovative idea under consideration is the possibility of negotiating consortial arrangements with publishers to cover article processing fees, possibly working cooperatively with libraries. This is a gem of an idea. Bringing the library subscription purchase together with article processing fees is the best possible way to avoid double dipping (publishers receiving revenue for both subscriptions and article processing fees) in the short term, and for facilitating full-scale transition to open access in the longer term. Also noteworthy is that NSERC is contemplating investment in infrastructure, to support local publishing and repository development, and that the need for enforcement of an OA policy is being addressed early on.


Negative consequences to NSERC of not having an OA policy – from Denis Leclerc’s presentation:
– NSERC-funded researchers are in a policy vacuum as to their own responsibilities when engaging in multi-funder collaborations (collaborators may be subject to OA).
– Possible risks: where original/raw data is not openly available for scrutiny, scientific misconduct may be facilitated.
– NSERC may be vulnerable to criticism regarding accountability to taxpayers.
– Missed opportunity to further demonstrate societal impact and relevance, as well as potential additional means to measure and monitor scientific output from funded research.
– Missed opportunity with respect to the 5th goal of NSERC`s Strategic Plan – To increase the visibility of Canadian NSE research in Canada and worldwide.
Conclusion: the Status Quo is not an option

Options being explored range from policy to institutional repository development. Particularly noteworthy is the idea of negotiating consortial deals with publishers, perhaps working cooperatively with university libraries to cover author OA charges, funding for infrastructure development, including support for local publishing, and enforcing / monitoring adherence to policy.

This post is part of the Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement series.

OICR Open Access Policy

It’s been blogged elsewhere (e.g. on Heather Morrison’s Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics: http://poeticeconomics.blogspot.com/2008/06/three-forthcoming-oa-policies-announced.html) but I should make brief mention of the just-announced Ontario Institute of Cancer Research (OICR) Open Access Policy. I won’t get into too many details (this page – http://www.oicr.on.ca/portalnews/vol2_issue3/access.htm – covers the basics plus there will be lots of discussion elsewhere) but I will say that the new directive is much in the vein of the previously-announced CIHR policy.

Also, in her posting, Heather says “Note: watch for OA policies at other Canadian provincial funding agencies – discussions are underway!” I know that the main Alberta health funder, the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR, http://www.ahfmr.ab.ca/), is certainly looking seriously looking at Open Access options; along with Denise Koufogiannakis from the University of Alberta, I talked with some folks at the AMFHR several months back about OA.


Ontario Institutes of Cancer Research: Official Announcement

The Ontario Institutes of Cancer Research (OICR) Open Access Policy will give researchers worldwide immediate access to OICR data (from Portal 2:3, the OICR Newsletter).

Text of the announcement:

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) is taking the lead in 2008 and making the research it funds available to the public through an open access policy that takes effect July 1. OICR’s policy, “Access to Research Outputs,” provides the guidelines for OICR’s scientists when they publish their work and describes the institutional repository where all publications from OICR scientists will be deposited for public accessibility.

The policy, which builds on the policy in place at the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), requires OICR researchers to provide unrestricted access to their publications within six months of publishing, either through self-archiving of the journal article in the OICR Institutional Repository or through publication in open access journals. The large majority of publishers already offer such accessibility within their copyright agreements.

“The main reason behind implementing an open access policy at OICR is that it allows the world to read OICR’s published papers and to benefit from the research funded by the Ontario government,” says Francis Ouellette, OICR’s Associate Director of Informatics and Biocomputing and a key member of the panel tasked with developing this policy for OICR. “It is important for people to know that what we do here at OICR is important and relevant, and they can do that by reading the papers that our researchers publish.”

Open access publishing has gained increasing attention and support over the past decade with the growth of the Internet and digital publishing. In addition, an increasing number of research institutions like OICR, as well as funding agencies like CIHR, have adopted open access policies to ensure publicly funded research is made freely available to the public.

Ouellette says researchers are starting to recognize that open access publishing and repositories greatly expand readership not only within the international research community itself, but also among the public.

“The average person knows how to use a basic search engine and knows how to find information and articles that are relevant to their disease,” Ouellette says. “If they have open access to research publications, even if they can’t fully understand the content, they can take that paper to their physician and ask about the disease. Open access empowers patients and their families – and since the research at OICR is publicly funded, they should have access to it.”

Ouellette feels that in addition to federal funding agencies, it is up to organizations like OICR who are developing new policies to lead the way and prove that open access can work.

“OICR has developed a very important policy for the open accessibility of its research output,” Ouellette says. “I think it will become a model policy for the Canadian research community.”

For details as released by Francis Ouellette at the ELPUB conference, and my comments, please see this IJPE post.

Congratulations once more to OICR for a very progressive policy that is indeed a model in many respects, and a fine example of Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement.

Three forthcoming OA policies announced at ELPUB in Toronto

Three new open access policies were announced by Canadians at the ELPUB 2008 conference in Toronto last week.

Stanford Faculty of Education
John Willinsky, in his home town of Toronto, announced the Stanford Faculty of Education unanimous OA mandate, as detailed by Peter Suber on Open Access News. What was most remarkable about John’s announcement is the ease of the decision – the question was raised about whether Stanford’s Faculty of Education should adopt a policy similar to Harvard’s, and the answer was yes!

Comment: watch for more and more reports along these lines – institutional OA policies that come much, much easier than earlier victories. Why? Thanks to these early victories, we have models. Harvard did not have the Harvard OA mandate to refer to – but now, all of us do!

National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)
Kathleen Shearer, research associate at the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), talked about an open access policy in the works at Canada’s NSERC, one of Canada’s three major federal funding agencies, anticipated for March 2009. The NSERC policy is likely to resemble that of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, with expectation of OA within 6 months of publication via OA publishing (preferred and encouraged) or self-archiving. Kathleen stressed that OA policies need to be accompanied by strong implementation strategies, and that libraries have a key role to play in OA education, advocacy, and infrastructure.

Ontario Institute of Cancer Research
Francis Ouellette of the Ontario Institute of Cancer Research announced that an OICR Policy on Access to Research Outputs is nearing completion and details will be released within the next couple of weeks, adapted from the CIHR’s Open Access policy document. An OICR institutional repository will be established, and OICR funded scientists will be expected to deposit peer-reviewed journals articles in the IR as soon as they are accepted for publication, and made freely accessible within 6 months of publication. OICR encourages publication in fully open access journals, and has plans for a fund for direct reimbursement of OA article processing fees for OICR-funded research, up to a maximum of $3,500 if the first, last or corresponding author is funded by the OICR. It is assumed that if scientists belonging to multiple institutions are contributing to a publication, they will share proportionately the cost of publication. Researchers are also expected to immediately deposit publication-related resesarch data into a publicly accessible database.

Comments: Kudos to OICR and the open access policy team, chaired by Jim Till. OICR funds about 60 principal investigators at about $75 million per year, and is in a growth process; in the next few years, OICR is expected to grow to about 120 principal investigators. While OICR follows the CIHR open access policy, clarification of expectation of access via a reprint request button for articles embargoed beyond six months is an important improvement. The optional OA-publication-specific funding is a welcome addition which will really help in the transition to open access. The maximum limit of $3,500 is very generous, more than most current OA article processing fees and even to cover even the researcher with a major breakthrough with an article well-suited for the very highest end journals in scholarly publishing.
Note: watch for OA policies at other Canadian provincial funding agencies – discussions are underway!

Could Canada become the first country in the world to mandate that all publicly funded research be open access? That day is not yet here – but with these announcements and more to come, it might not be long…

This post is part of the Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement series.

University of Calgary Open Access Authors Fund

It has appeared elsewhere already but, in case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the press release about the University of Calgary OA submission fee fund. I figured that I should blog something about this considering I’m involved in it and am one of the folks behind OA Librarian 🙂

U of C funds Open Access Authors Fund

Fund gives professors and students access to new funds

University of Calgary professors and graduate students will now have access to a $100,000 Open Access Authors Fund designed to increase the amount of publicly available research.

The new fund, announced today by Thomas Hickerson, Vice-Provost, Libraries and Cultural Resources and University Librarian, is the first of its magnitude in Canada. “I am proud that the University of Calgary is taking leadership in this movement to increase the worldwide accessibility of cutting- edge research,” said Hickerson.

The new fund will provide U of C faculty and graduate students with financial support to cover Open Access author fees. Open Access publishing is a rapidly expanding development in the exchange of research information. An increasing number of academic journals make research literature openly available via the internet without the restrictions on authors and without the high costs to users imposed by traditional subscription-based publications.

This new publishing model does, however, often require that authors pay fees contributing to the costs of publication. With the establishment of this new fund, researchers at the University of Calgary will have the freedom to exercise their own choice in publishing decisions. Open Access publishing is emerging as the best hope for a sustainable and responsible course of action for the future of scholarly communication.

“The Open Access movement is a significant initiative in bringing our research activity more quickly and broadly to the awareness of the scholarly community and to the public at large,” said Dr. Rose Goldstein, Vice-President, Research. “The establishment of this fund by Libraries and Cultural Resources is a crucial development for our faculty and graduate students.”

Open Access publishing allows authors to retain copyright control over their work and promotes broad educational use of the latest information. Open Access is also a key means by which university research can serve the larger community, providing public access to the new findings in everything from cancer treatment to global warming.

Faculty or graduate students looking for additional information may contact Helen Clarke, Head, Collection Services and Electronic Resources Librarian at hclarke@ucalgary.ca For media inquiries, please contact: Tom Hickerson Vice-Provost, Libraries and Cultural Resources and University Librarian tom.hickerson@ucalgary.ca 403.220.3765

The online version of the press release, with picture, is at http://www.ucalgary.ca/news/june2008/authorsfund.

I should stress that we haven’t worked out all the details quite yet but we in the process of doing so. The official start-up date is September 2008.