Open access policies must require rather than just request deposit

SUMMARY: It makes a big difference whether a university’s (or research funder’s) Open Access policy is mandatory (i.e. a requirement) or just invitational (a request). Merely requesting deposit (as did the first version of the NIH OA policy) fails to generate deposits, whereas requiring deposit succeeds (as did the revised NIH policy, once it was upgraded to make deposit mandatory). Research grant recipients and their institutions are conscientious about complying with their funders’ official grant fulfillment procedures, to maximize their chances of future funding. University faculty are likewise conscientious about complying with their institutions’ official performance review procedures (and so depositing articles in the institutional repository should be designated as the official procedure for submitting them for performance review).

Klaus Graf wrote in the American Scientist Open Access Forum:

KG: “request” or “require” is only a play on words.

So is “may” vs. “must.” And “recommended” vs. “obligatory.”

But words matter, when it comes to formulating official institutional policy.

And they matter all the more in an area that is still very new and unfamiliar to most researchers, hence still rife with confusion and misunderstanding, as is OA: “What’s in a Word?

KG: You cannot compare a funder mandate (NIH) with a university mandate.

You certainly can — and must, if you are to formulate effective OA policies. The two kinds of mandates are complementary: “How To Integrate University and Funder Open Access Mandates

KG: Request in a funder mandate means: “May be there will be disadvantages if I don’t selfarchive”

Funder mandates (like NIH) never explicitly specified the disadvantages of noncompliance, but during the two years that the NIH policy was just a request there was only 5% compliance whereas within a year of upgrading the policy to a requirement compliance exceeded 60%.

(The obvious disadvantage of noncompliance with a funder mandate is that grantees risk not receiving a future grant if they fail to meet their present grant’s official requirements — as opposed to doing the things that are merely “requested” or “recommended” or “optional.” The positive advantage of compliance is enhanced research impact.)

KG: Request in a university mandate means: “Nothing will happen if I do so”.

To get a more realistic idea of the contingencies, please have a look at those university mandates that are procedurally tied to the official mechanism for submitting articles for university performance review — for example, the U. Liege mandate, to which the Rector has already drawn your attention in a prior posting:

“Yesterday, Klaus Graf reacted rather strongly to the announcement of the Liège University repository mandate, stating [in the American Scientist Open Access Forum] that its ‘practice and legal framework is nonsense.’

“It seems to me that perhaps he may have missed a few essential aspects of this mandate, essentially the way it is handled in practice, the legal wherewithal and the reasons for imposing it….

Excerpt from Liege Mandate: “…starting October 1st, 2009, only those references introduced in ORBi will be taken into consideration as the official list of publications accompanying any curriculum vitæ in all evaluation procedures ‘in house’ (designations, promotions, grant applications, etc.).”

(Hence the obvious disadvantage of noncompliance with a university deposit mandate is that if faculty fail to comply with their institution’s official submission procedure for research performance evaluation, their articles will fail to be evaluated. This is rather like a procedural requirement to submit a digital rather than a paper draft, or even a draft in a particular digital format. Note that the university also shares a stake in its faculty’s compliance with funder requirements, both the disadvantages of noncompliance and the advantages of compliance. The positive advantage of compliance in both cases is enhanced research impact. The disadvantage of noncompliance is loss of future grants, including both their research impact and their contribution to institutional overheads and indirect costs.)

KG: Harvard-style: “I can get all waivers I need”.

The jury is still out on what will prove to be the compliance rate with the Harvard-style mandates (with their option of opting out).

I have argued that the Harvard-style mandates should be upgraded to immediate-deposit mandates that allow authors to waive adopting the author’s addendum (on copyright retention and re-use rights), but not to waive making the deposit itself (for which access can be set as “Closed Access” if they wish to honor a publisher embargo period). Currently, deposit itself is not part of the Harvard mandate, just part of the accompanying Policy FAQ; but I still have hopes that the wording of the Harvard policy itself will be formally upgraded to make deposit mandatory in all cases, rather than contingent on whether or not the author opts to waive adopting the author addendum:

Harvard Mandate Adds ID/OA to its FAQ
Which Green OA Mandate Is Optimal?

KG: I cannot see any proof that the very few documented high deposit rates after a mandate have the mandate as causa instead of the readiness of a faculty/university to deposit.

Well it would be a remarkable coincidence indeed if the difference between the (many, many) institutional repositories with low deposit rates (<15%) and the very few that have high deposit rates (>60%) were the fact that the latter happen to have faculty with a “readiness to deposit” — rather than the more obvious difference, which is that they require deposit!

(If the real causal difference is a local “readiness to deposit” rather than the official requirement to deposit, perhaps we should be looking at what the faculty are eating at those universities, so we can add it to the diet of the faculty at all those other universities whose faculty do not yet seem to have this estimable “readiness to deposit”…)

Response to an early posting by Klaus Graf (about peer review, PLoS, which publishes biological and medical research, all of it peer-reviewed (fortunately for us all).

Preprints in monographs free online if they wish to. The trouble is that most do not wish to (yet). But all journal-article authors already do.

This issue has next to nothing to do with peer review.

Conference proceedings fall under the same category as journal articles (author give-aways, written solely for usage and impact).

Edited book chapters are an in-between area. The best strategy is to get all the journal articles safely and universally self-archived, and the rest will follow soon enough. Don’t get hung up on the exceptions and outliers.

KG: It is wrong to think that all relevant research is made from university affiliated scholars. It would be good to have valid numbers for scholars without deposit access to an institutional repository.

True again — but again, no point getting hung up on the exceptions and outliers: Get all institutionally generated research articles self-archived (85% still waiting!) and don’t worry about the exceptions and outliers for now.

But, yes, central repositories (like DEPOT — or CogPrints or Arxiv) are just fine for self-archiving institutionally unaffiliated research.

KG: Institutional repositories are NOT better than central disciplinary repositories.

Opinion duly registered.

KG: Repetition [does not] make… false things… true.

You can say that again…

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum

Comments for OA Librarian closed

OA Librarian receives one or more comments every day. Unfortunately, over the last several months, the vast majority of comments have been spam; these have been increasing in number while “legit” comments have become few and far between. As a result of this, the decision has been made to close off the comment function for this blog. Apologies if this causes difficulties for anyone.

Canadian copyright consultation

Here is my response to the Canadian copyright consultation. Canadians, take note of the Sunday, September 13, 2009 deadline for submissions.

Questions and my Responses

  1. How do Canada’s copyright laws affect you? How should existing laws be modernized?


    As an academic, prolific writer and scholar of scholarly communication: Canada’s copyright laws do not fit academia. Most scholarly research is supported by research grants (in turn supported by public funding) and/or academic salaries. Our need is to publish as widely as possible, for maximum impact of our work and to advance our careers. The optimum dissemination approach for academia is open access to scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles. Canadian academics need strong support for copyright laws that facilitate sharing, for example by strengthening fair dealing provisions, eliminating Crown copyright, eliminating automatic copyright registration, and shortening the timeline before copyrighted work enters the public domain. It is important to ensure that any copyright provisions designed for other sectors not hinder advances in scholarly knowledge.

    Digital rights management and technological prevention measures, and anti-circumvention laws, are of great concern to me. Although I share my own work freely, I do not control the Internet, and so it is entirely possible that others could impose DRM or TPM without my knowledge or permission on my works. If Canadian copyright law is to address DRM / TPM, it is essential to include provisions outlawing imposition of DRM / TPM on material shared freely, as well as to allow circumvention for any lawful uses of a work.

    As a creator – writer, photographer, interested in both free sharing and potentially commercial uses of my work, my view here also is that Canada should strongly support free sharing of information. The Internet and Creative Commons licensing have expanded opportunities for creativity and collaboration, with unprecedented potential for developing and enhancing culture and community. CC licensing should be encouraged and supported.

  2. Based on Canadian values and interests, how should copyright changes be made in order to withstand the test of time


    AVOID notice and takedown / 3 strikes and you are out types of provisions. Canadian democracy is built on trust, assumption of innocence until one is proven guilty, rehabilitation. Notice and notice fits Canadian values.

  3. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster innovation and creativity in Canada?


    Enhance and expand: fair dealing to reflect “fair use” style provisions. For example, teachers in the U.S. can hand out materials to students in class under fair use, while Canadian teachers cannot. Creative commons licensing.

    Eliminate: Crown copyright (have taxpayer-support research enter directly into public domain, as in the U.S.), automatic copyright protection.

    Reduce lengthy copyright terms, or require re-registry. 14 years is lots. This would bring lots of orphan works quickly into the public domain.

    Avoid: anti-circumvention measures. These are completely unnecessary. If circumvention is done for illegal purposes, the illegal purpose is already covered. Notice and takedown. 3 strikes and you are out.

  4. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster competition and investment in Canada? and 5. What kinds of changes would best position Canada as a leader in the global, digital economy?


    Encourage and support free sharing of information, such as through Creative Commons licensing, through the means mentioned above. For example, if Crown copyright is eliminated, then anyone can read lots of research funded by taxpayers for the Canadian public interest. Businesses throughout the country, and the world, would have helpful information that could lead to new business ideas which would benefit Canadians (i.e., solve the problems that inspired the government to fund the research). Creative Commons is a means for Canadian artists to expand their reach and audience around the globe.

    Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this consultation.

    Heather Morrison, MLIS

    Please note that I will post a copy of this response to my scholarly blog, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

New Zealand releases draft principles on OA to PSI

New Zealand’s State Services Commission has released a draft framework on OA to public sector information, on which it is soliciting comment. Under the draft, an agency would evaluate a particular work and choose from one of the Creative Commons licenses (with the most permissive, the Attribution license, generally recommended) or a to-be-developed more restrictive license, or a certification that the work/data is not subject to copyright. The draft backs away from an earlier recommendation of CC Zero, which would effectively waive Crown copyright. The framework recommends that PSI generally be available gratis, with any charges limited only to reasonable costs of distribution.

It’s not immediately clear to what extent publicly-funded research is included in the policy (see excerpt below); I’ll contact the commission to ask, and knowledgeable readers are encouraged to contact me. From the announcement:

Keitha Booth, Draft Open Access and Licensing Framework released, In Development, August 27, 2009.

Today the State Services Commission is releasing the draft New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing framework (NZGOAL). This document provides guidance for State Services agencies on:

  • open access to non-copyright information; and
  • open licensing of copyright works,

in both cases with a view to allowing their re-use by others. (It does not apply to information or works containing personal or other sensitive information).

The draft NZGOAL sets out a series of policy principles which embrace, among other things, the notions of open access, open licensing, creativity, authenticity, non-discrimination and open formats. …

This work, which has been prepared in conjunction with the ICT Group of the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), was endorsed by public service departments earlier this year when they responded to the Suggested All-of-Government Approach to Licensing of Public Sector Copyright Works: Discussion Paper. This paper and the Summary and Analysis of Departmental Feedback are also being released today to provide further background. …

Those who read all three documents (the draft NZGOAL, the Discussion Paper and the Summary and Analysis of Departmental Feedback) will see that we have changed our approach slightly from that envisaged in the Discussion Paper and the Summary and Analysis of Departmental Feedback. The main changes are as follows: …

  • While, in the Summary and Analysis of Departmental Feedback, we had contemplated a potential place for the Creative Commons Zero tool, we have decided not to advocate its use in NZGOAL. Suggesting to agencies that they consider waiving Crown copyright or other copyright in their copyright works (which would be the effect of advocating Creative Commons Zero) would raise a miscellany of policy and legal issues that are beyond the scope of NZGOAL. Moreover, we do not consider the use of Creative Commons Zero to be necessary. …

Please join this discussion. The last day for receiving comment will be Friday 9 October 2009. You can add a comment to this post, the sections of the draft NZGOAL, and/or email your comments directly to if you wish.

So far as copyright works are concerned, NZGOAL proposes that agencies apply the most liberal of the New Zealand Creative Commons law licences to those of their copyright works that are appropriate for release, unless there is a restriction which would prevent this. The most liberal Creative Commons licence is the Attribution (BY) licence. So far as non-copyright information is concerned, NZGOAL recommends the use of clear “no-known rights” statements, to provide certainty for people wishing to re-use that information.

From the draft policy, section on “Procuring and preparing information, data and copyright works”:

When procuring, preparing or commissioning information, data and copyright works, State Services agencies are encouraged to consider whether such information, data and works should, in accordance with these Policy Principles, be released to the public for re-use. …

New OA policy at Finland’s U. Tampere

The University of Tampere adopted a new OA policy on April 16, 2009. Stevan Harnad calls the policy a mandate, although the university’s English-language policy memo uses the term “request” (Google translates the Finnish as “calls on”). From the English memo:

On 17 November 2008 the Rector set up a work group to prepare for the parallel depositing of research publications, the aim being to improve the open access to research publications at the University of Tampere. Led by Vice-Rector Arja Ropo, the work group completed its proposal on 30 March 2009 and on 31 March 2009 submitted its proposal to the Rector. …

According to the proposal of the work group the Rector would

  • request researchers working at the University as of 1 January 2011 to deposit copies of their research articles accepted for publication in scientific journals in the institutional repository provided by the University of Tampere and
  • encourage researchers to deposit copies of their publications in the University’s repository before the Decision comes into force.

Research articles refers in this Decision to single articles to be published in scientific refereed journals, in the University’s own publication series, in conference publications or other compilations as covered by the KOTA [national research assessment] data collection obligation. The final publisher’s version of the article should be deposited in the repository or then the author’s last version of the article revised in response to referees’ comments. …

The University of Tampere hereby undertakes to provide researchers with the support services required for parallel depositing (see Annex 1 of the Decision). The University of Tampere will endeavour to improve publication information systems and to design the process of depositing in a researcher-centred manner. …

In addition to the research articles referred to in the Decision, other kinds of publications which may be stored in the open depository provided by the University of Tampere include popular articles, other published written texts, serial publications of University departments, teaching material and, if the publication agreements allow, also monographs.

People within the sphere of University of Tampere research not covered by the KOTA data collection obligation may also store their publications in the University repository. …

Update: Harnad is no longer calling the policy a mandate.

Repository Staff and Skills Set

Mary L. Robinson, SHERPA European Development Officer. The first version of the document was released in July 2007 and stemmed from requests received by the SHERPA team for examples of job descriptions of repository posts. SHERPA partners, UKCoRR members and the general repository community contributed greatly to its design through comments and suggestions. The document was not designed to describe the skills set required of a particular repository post but rather is a list of the entire set of skills, knowledge and abilities required for the development and management of a successful institutional repository. The document is revised annually and has been used by the community in a
variety of ways including: job descriptions, plans for repository
development and staffing, seek funding from institutions, renegotiating salaries/job profiles and regarding and in identifying skill gaps and areas for staff training.

Debate within library community over Google settlement

Paula J. Hane, Anti Google Book Settlement Organizations Band Together in Open Book Alliance, Information Today, August 27, 2009.

… At the end of July, The American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) sent a letter to the [U.S. Department of Justice]’s Antitrust Division, requesting it to advise the court presiding over the settlement to supervise the implementation of the [Google Books] settlement closely, particularly the pricing of institutional subscriptions and the selection of the Book Rights Registry board members.

These library associations have not joined the newly formed [Open Book Alliance]. According to Corey Williams, associate director for ALA’s Office of Government Relations, ALA leadership worked closely with its membership to shape its position on the settlement. … “We’ve already gone on record with the court,” she says. Commenting on the formation of the alliance, she added, “ALA is delighted that others are joining the debate. We encourage everyone who cares about the issues raised by the proposed settlement to weigh in with the court.”

The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) is the nonprofit membership organization serving the major public libraries located in urban and metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. On Aug. 19, the ULC submitted a statement urging the court to require that the parties involved “address the issues raised in this document before approving the proposed settlement.” The ULC concerns relate to access (one terminal per public library building is “admirable but not workable”), reader privacy, printing charges, and monopoly issues. CEO Susan Benton says the alliance certainly sounds of interest for the council’s concerns, but the ULC had not been approached about joining. …

N.B.: ALA, ACRL, and ARL are the members of the Library Copyright Alliance. Until recently, LCA membership included the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the Medical Library Association (MLA), and the Special Libraries Association (SLA, now a member of the Open Book Alliance). According to an internal ACRL memo, the other associations quit LCA earlier this year, “citing the current economic climate”; ACRL subsequently joined.

Norman Oder, Margolis: ALA, Allies Should Request More Library Access in Google Settlement, Library Journal, August 25, 2009.

A veteran American Library Association (ALA) Councilor and longtime library executive has urged ALA and fellow library groups to more forcefully advocate that the pending Google Book Settlement offer increased library access to the book database, among other things.

Bernard Margolis, State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries, New York State Library, shared an open letter following up on a letter sent to the Department of Justice by leaders of ALA, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries. “I want to urge your consideration of a stronger position reflecting both the critically important principles of access as well as the economic realities faced by your members (individual and institutional),” Margolis wrote.

He asked the leaders to consider conveying some settlement outcomes to the Department of Justice, including expansion of free Public Access Service (PAS) to school libraries, state libraries, and public law/medical/health libraries, as well as ensuring that the service is available throughout public libraries rather than limited to one terminal. (Google has said the latter is a minimum, but it would consider more.) …

Margolis, as have others, requested the Books Rights Registry—an independent, not-for-profit organization described in the settlement as representing “authors, publishers and other rightsholders”—be expanded, in this case to include library community and public representation. …

Norman Oder, PW Survey: Librarians On the Fence Regarding Google Settlement, Library Journal, August 20, 2009.

Just as library organizations have criticized the proposed Google Book Search settlement without formally opposing it, rank-and-file librarians are on the fence about the settlement, according to a new [unscientific] survey of stakeholders by Publishers Weekly. The magazine shared preliminary findings with the LJ Academic Newswire in advance of a cover story appearing August 24.

Some 225 librarians were surveyed, among a larger sample mainly drawing from the publishing industry. Regarding court approval of the settlement, 37% said they were unsure, while 29% supported the settlement and 21.5% said they opposed it.

Also, only 25% of librarians surveyed said they supported the initial lawsuits by publishers and the Authors Guild, while 25% opposed the filing. The rest had no opinion. …

See also our past post on the Open Book Alliance.

New Open Book Alliance criticizes Google settlement

Diverse Coalition Unites To Counter Google Book Settlement, Open Book Alliance, press release, August 26, 2009.

Librarians, legal scholars, authors, publishers, and technology companies today announced the formation of a coalition – the Open Book Alliance – that will counter the proposed Google Book Settlement in its current form. …

“Just as Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press more than 700 years ago ushered in a new era of knowledge sharing, the mass digitization of books promises to once again revolutionize how we read and discover books,” said Open Book Alliance co-chairs Peter Brantley and Gary Reback in a blog post. “But a digital library controlled by a single company and small group of colluding publishers would inevitably lead to higher prices and subpar service for consumers, libraries, scholars, and students.”

“The public interest demands that any mass book digitization and distribution effort be undertaken in the open, grounded in sound public policy, and mindful of the need to promote long-term benefits for consumers rather than those of a few commercial interests,” continued Brantley and Reback.

Brantley is a director of the non-profit Internet Archive and Reback is a noted antitrust attorney who serves of counsel at the firm Carr & Ferrell, LLP.

The Open Book Alliance will work to inform policymakers and the public about the serious legal, competitive, and policy issues in the settlement proposal. Members of the Alliance include:

See also our forthcoming follow-up post for more on the Open Book Alliance.

Study of foundations’ open content policies

Phil Malone, An Evaluation of Private Foundation Copyright Licensing: Policies, Practices and Opportunities, report by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, August 2009. From the executive summary:

Private foundations fund and support the creation of a wide range of work products,
ranging from books, articles, reports, and research summaries to educational materials and
textbooks to photographs, works of visual art, films, videos, and musical compositions and
recordings to software code, computer programs and technical systems to many, many
others. Foundations seek to achieve the most impact and the greatest good with the money
they invest. Doing so often depends on ensuring the broadest dissemination and greatest,
most productive and innovative use, reuse and redistribution of the many works they
support. …

This project, a joint effort of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard
University, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Ford Foundation and the Open
Society Institute, with funding from Hewlett and Ford, undertook to examine the copyright
licensing policies and practices of a group of twelve private foundations. In particular, it
looked at the extent to which charitable foundations are aware of and have begun to use
open licenses such as Creative Commons or the GPL. We surveyed foundation staff and
leaders and examined a number of examples where foundations have begun to take
advantage of new licensing models for materials and resources produced by their own staff,
their consultants and their grantees. …

Currently, three of the twelve foundations surveyed expressly require their grantees to
use open licenses for the works they create; two others strongly encourage the use of such
licenses. At the same time, an increasing number of foundations and other organizations
that fund scholarly research and publications are encouraging grantees to make their work
product available for free in online, digital archives or repositories, though not always with
the full benefit of open licenses. In addition, a number of foundations are major supporters
of a critical new initiative to create large networks of free and open educational resources
(OER) online, usually with by a commitment to some form of open licensing of most of the

Based on the survey results, foundation experiences and extensive additional research,
the project identified a variety of benefits that the use of open content licenses can bring to
foundations and their charitable goals. It also evaluated possible drawbacks and concerns
that open licenses might present in certain situations. The project sought to develop an
analytical framework and set of factors that foundations can use to begin considering when
and where the use of open licenses would further their mission and their day to day work
and where such licenses might not be useful or appropriate. …

Taking advantage of these opportunities and beginning to obtain many of the benefits
will not require foundations to immediately alter their existing licensing policies or practices.
Rather, any approach can be incremental, beginning with internal discussions and careful
consideration of the possible benefits and potential drawbacks of open licenses in a
foundation’s particular situation and fields. That analysis is likely to flow naturally into
valuable outreach: conversations with partners and grantees about licensing options,
benefits and objections. Program officers ordinarily are in excellent positions to raise these
issues with grantees, and the resulting conversations may identify areas where open licensing
by the foundation and/or its grantees would be immediately beneficial and create little
objection or burden, as well as other areas where greater adjustments need to be made or a
more nuanced approach may be required. …

The Report concludes with a series of recommendations designed to help motivate and
facilitate foundations to begin to examine their own licensing needs and practices. These
recommendations include steps to raise awareness and develop intentionality in the
foundation sector generally as well as steps for individual foundations to engage in their own
consideration and evaluation of the appropriateness of open licensing in the context of their
particular programs and grantees. …

Streamlining IR deposit to facilitate OA

Gerd Stumme, PUMA – Project on Academic Publication Management started on August 1st, BibSonomy Blog, August 26, 2009.

BibSonomy technology will be used in a project that fosters the open access movement and a better support of the researchers publications work. The project “PUMA – Academic Publication Management” is funded by the German Research Foundation DFG and has been started on August 1st, 2009. PUMA is a joint project of the University Library and the Knowledge & Data Engineering Group of the University of Kassel. …

Even though many researchers support the open access movement in principle, they often do not contribute their publications to the institutional repository of their university. Key reasons are that they do not see an immediate benefit from this additional effort, and that the upload is not integrated in their usual work flow. PUMA aims therefore for an integrated solution, where the upload of a publication results automatically in an update of both the personal and institutional homepage, the creation of an entry in BibSonomy, an entry in the academic reporting system of the university, and its publication in the institutional repository. At the time of upload, meta data from several data sources (SHERPA/RoMEO list, online library catalogue, BibSonomy) will be collected automatically in order to support the user. Further, PUMA aims to provide a publication management platform for all researchers and students to be used on a daily basis, which reduces not only the open access publication effort but also the effort to manage one’s own publications. …

As a showcase, PUMA will be integrated with the open access repository platform DSpace, the libary system PICA, the Typo3 content management system, and BibSonomy. The system is open for adaption to other standard systems. The project results will be published as open source software. …

Call for OA to paleo data

Fossils for All: Science Suffers by Hoarding, editorial, Scientific American Magazine, September 2009.

… [F]ossil hunters often block other scientists from studying their treasures, fearing assessments that could scoop or disagree with their own. In so doing, they are taking the science out of paleoanthropology. …

The scientists who expend the blood, sweat and tears to unearth the remnants of humanity’s past deserve first crack at describing and analyzing them. But there should be clear limits on this period of exclusivity. Otherwise, the self-correcting aspect of science is impeded: outside researchers can neither reproduce the discovery team’s findings nor test new hypotheses.

In 2005 the National Science Foundation took steps toward setting limits, requiring grant applicants to include a plan for making specimens and data collected using NSF money available to other researchers within a specified time frame. But paleoanthropologists assert that nothing has really changed. And according to Leslie Aiello of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, a major source of private funding for anthropological research, both public and private funding agencies typically lack the resources to enforce access policies, if they have them at all.

Ultimately, the adoption of openaccess practices will depend in large part on paleoanthropologists themselves and the institutions that store human fossils—most of which originate outside the U.S.—doing the right thing. But the NSF, which currently considers failure to make data accessible just one factor in deciding whether to fund a researcher again, should take a firmer stance on the issue and reject without exception those repeat applicants who do not follow the access rules. The agency could also create a centralized database to which researchers could contribute measurements, observations, high-resolution photographs and CT scans—a GenBank for paleoanthropology. And journals could require that authors submit their data prior to publication, as they do with authors of papers containing new genetic sequences. …