The Universiy of Pretoria adopts an open access mandate

The University of Pretoria has become the first university in South Africa to adopt a mandate for open access deposit of publications by all academics. The senate of the University of Pretoria has unanimously approved an open access mandate for the university, which requires all academics to deposit digital copies of their publications in an open access archive. The policy will go into effect immediately and it is likely that UP scholars will see a substantial increase in the citation of their articles as a result. Other South African Universities will need to watch this space.    

The wording of  the policy:

To assist the University of Pretoria in providing open access to scholarly articles resulting from research done at the University, supported by public funding, staff and students are required to:

  •  submit peer-reviewed postprints* + the metadata of their articles to UPSpace, the University’s institutional repository, AND
  • give the University permission to make the content freely available and to take necessary steps to preserve files in perpetuity.

Postprints are to be submitted immediately upon acceptance for publication.

The University of Pretoria requires its researchers to comply with the policies of research funders such as the Wellcome Trust with regard to open access archiving. Postprints of these articles are not excluded from the UP mandate and should first be submitted as described in (1). Information on funders' policies is available at

Access to the full text of articles will be subject to publisher permissions. Access will not be provided if permission is in doubt or not available. In such cases, an abstract will be made available for external internet searches to achieve maximum research visibility. Access to the full text will be suppressed for a period if such an embargo is prescribed by the publisher or funder.

The Open Scholarship Office will take responsibility for adhering to archiving policies of publishers and research funders, and managing the system's embargo facility to delay public visibility to meet their requirements.

The University of Pretoria strongly recommends that transfer of copyright be avoided. Researchers are encouraged to negotiate copyright terms with publishers when the publisher does not allow archiving, reuse and sharing. This can be done by adding the official UP author addendum to a publishing contract.

The University of Pretoria encourages its authors to publish their research articles in open access journals that are accredited.

Starting in 2004 with an evaluation of appropriate repository software, and going live in 2006 with UPSpace, UP has established itself as a pioneer and a leader in the development and management of scholarly repositories in South Africa. The university at that time already had a thesis and dissertations repository, UPeTD, started in 2000 and expanded in 2004 with a mandate for the online deposit of theses and dissertations. The decision to expand this intervention to create a repository of research collections followed on the success that UPeTD had in profiling PhD students' research, contributing to their career success and providing expanded readership for UP's research output.

The project was resourced with the creation of a repository management team to oversee the implementation and ongoing management of UPSpace. There are now 7 896 full text items online, profiling the research output and publications of departments and individual academics, who have their own profiles within the repository, which can be linked to their CVs. The online publications can range from public scholarship and media articles to research papers and formal scholarly publications. The latter are collected in a sub-space of the broader collection, called openUP.

The initial reluctance of UP scholars to embrace open access has long been overcome and with Senate's willingness to vote a mandate for deposit, it is clear that there is now top-level support for the initiative. It will be interesting to watch the impact that this has on UP's research profile and scholarly reputation, which is likely to be enhanced by increased access. Research shows that online open access to research publications from developing countries considerably increases impact factors by a considerable margin.  

 Congratulations to UP for a bold initiative that puts in in the front rank among some of the leading universities in the world.

For an account of the setting up of the UP repositories, seeMartie van Deventer and Heila Pienaar, South Arfican Repositories: Brigding the knoweldge divides. Ariadne 55 2008