Campus Open Access Resolutions

On Tue, 5 Oct 2010, [identity deleted] wrote:

Hi Stevan,
We are happy to inform you that [university identity deleted] senate passed a campus open access resolution…

[Here] is the text of our open access resolution. We are not sure if we should register it to ROARMAP since it is not a policy or a mandate. Do you have any guidance for us?

Thanks, [Identity deleted]


Congratulations to your university for taking a stance on OA, but I’m afraid there is nothing yet to register in ROARMAP on the basis of this kind of resolution (encouraging OA), for the following reasons:

(1) Ten years of evidence on which kinds of policies succeed and which fail have shown that encouraging deposit simply does not work. Baseline deposit rates remain about 15% of university research output, even with encouragement, recommendations, invitations, and requests.

(2) If the encouragement is accompanied by relentless activism, contacts, incentives and assistance from library staff, the deposit rate can be raised somewhat higher (c. 30%).

(3) But only a deposit requirement (mandate) can raise the deposit rate to 60%, from which it approaches 100% within a few years (especially quickly if deposit is officially designated as the sole procedure for submitting publications for performance assessment). Neither encouragement nor activism will accomplish deposit rates of that order, no matter how long the policy remains in place.

So I am afraid that your university is now destined to have to discover for itself — by losing several more years of research uptake and impact while other institutions (over 100 now) adopt a deposit mandate — that encouragement alone simply does not work.

I also think it is a mistake to foreground the recommendation to publish in open access journals (“Gold OA”): Unlike “Green OA” — i.e. depositing (in the institutional repository) articles that have been published in subscription journals (which still constitute about 90% of journals today, and still include virtually all the top journals) — publishing in Gold OA journals cannot be required; it can only be encouraged. So as a means of providing OA to all the university’s annual research output, publishing in Gold OA journals should clearly be portrayed as merely a supplement to a deposit mandate. Your faculty resolution puts the encouragement to publish in OA journals first, followed by an encouragement to deposit. Not only is the crucial requirement to deposit missing altogether, but the priorities are counterproductively reversed.

Last, I have to point out that your resolution’s statement regarding deposit is so hedged by apparent legal worries that it is virtually just a statement to the effect that “We encourage you to deposit if and when your publisher says you may deposit”!

Not only is that legalistic hedging not helpful, but it is unnecessary and misleading. Your university can and should require deposit of the author’s final, refereed, revised draft, immediately upon acceptance for publication, without exception. Over 60% of journals (including virtually all the top journals in all fields) already endorse immediate OA self-archiving (see the ROMEO registry). If there is a desire to abide by the remaining journals’ OA embargoes, then your university should simply recommend setting access to the (immediate, mandatory) deposit as Closed Access rather than Open Access during the embargo. But the immediate deposit itself should be mandatory, without exception, regardless of publisher policy on the timing of OA. That way even during any OA embargo users can request and authors can provide “Almost OA” on a case by case basis, for research or educational purposes, via the repository’s semi-automatic “email eprint request” button.

All I can do is hope that as you see the growing evidence of the feasibility and success of immediate-deposit mandates registered in ROARMAP, your university will be emboldened to upgrade its policy to an immediate-deposit mandate (as NIH did, after 2 years lost pursuing the vain hope that encouragement would be enough) before your university needlessly loses many more years of uptake and impact for its annual research output.

Invaluable OA policy-making guidance is now available to universities from EOS (Enabling Open Scholarship) Convenor, Alma Swan, Key Perspectives and University of Southampton; Chairman, Bernard Rentier, Rector, University of Liege.

We hope many new deposit mandates will be announced during international OA week (beginning October 18):

Best wishes,

Harnad, S. (2008) Waking OA?s ?Slumbering Giant?: The University’s Mandate To Mandate Open Access. New Review of Information Networking 14(1): 51 – 68

Harnad, S; Carr, L; Swan, A; Sale, A & Bosc H. (2009) Maximizing and Measuring Research Impact Through University and Research-Funder Open-Access Self Archiving Mandates. Wissenschaftsmanagement 15(4) 36-41

Harnad, S. (2010) The Immediate Practical Implication of the Houghton Report: Provide Green Open Access Now. Prometheus 28 (1). pp. 55-59.

Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2010) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

Swan, A. (2010) The Open Access citation advantage: Studies and results to date. Technical Report. School of Electronics & Computer Science, University of Southampton.