Integrating Institutional and Funder Open Access Mandates: Belgian Model

On Fri, Dec 23, 2011 Professor Bernard Rentier — Rector of the Université de Liège, Vice-President of the FRS-FNRS and Chairman of Enabling Open Scholarship (EOS)announced on the Global Open Access List (GOAL):

“It is my pleasure to announce that the Board of Administrators of the FRS-FNRS (Fund for Scientific Research in French-speaking Belgium) has officially decided to use exclusively Institutional Repositories as sources of bibliographic data in support of grant or fellowship submission (except for foreign applicants) starting in 2013 (strongly encouraged in 2012). (FRS-FNRS is by far the main funder for basic research in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.) “

I am sure that many readers will not quite realize the significance of this development in Belgium, so I would like to spell it out:

This represents the first instance of extending one of the key features of Professor Rentier’s “Liege model” research institution repository deposit (ID/OA) mandate to a research funder.

The Liege model institutional mandate is

(i) to require deposit

and, in order to ensure compliance,

(ii) to designate institutional repository deposit as the sole mechanism for submitting publications for institutional performance review.

The FRS-FNRS is the research funding council for French-speaking Belgium. Its Flemish-speaking counterpart, FWO, mandated OA deposit in 2007, but, like most funder mandates, FWO did not specify where to deposit, and did not provide any system for monitoring and ensuring compliance:

FRS-FNRS has has now designated institutional repository deposit as the sole mechanism for submitting publications in support of a research funding application.

This one stipulation has six major knock-on benefits: It not only:

(1) extends the Liege institutional mandate’s compliance/monitoring clause to funder mandates,

but it also

(2) helps integrate institutional and funder mandates,

(3) ensuring that deposit is made,

(4) ensuring that deposit is made in the author’s institutional repository (rather than in diverse institution-external repositories),

(5) encouraging institutions that have not yet done so to adopt deposit mandates, so as to complement funder mandates for all institutional research output, funded and unfunded, and

(6) ensuring that institutional and funder mandates are convergent and mutually reinforcing rather than divergent and competitive, with deposits for both mandates being made institutionally, and with institutions hence monitoring and ensuring compliance with funder mandates.

Bravo FRS-FNRS! Let us hope other research funders world-wde will adopt (or upgrade to) the Belgian model.

How to Integrate University and Funder Open Access Mandates

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Stevan Harnad