DOE: The Importance of Requiring Institutional Repository Deposit Immediately Upon Acceptance for Publication

A peer-reviewed journal article is either accessible to all of its potential users or it is not accessible to all of its potential users (but only to those at subscribing institutions).

Open Access (OA) is intended to make articles accessible (online) to all their potential users, not just to subscribers, sothat all potential users can read, use, apply and build upon the findings, not just subscribers.

OA comes in two forms:

Gratis OA means an article is accessible online to all its potential users.

Libre OA means an article is accessible online to all its potential users and all users also have certain re-use rights, such as text-mining by machine, and re-publication.

For individual researchers and for the general public the most important and urgent form of OA is Gratis OA.

The reason Gratis OA is so important is that otherwise the research is inaccessible except to subscribers: OA maximizes research uptake, usage, applications, impact and progress.

The reason Gratis OA is so urgent is that lost research access means lost research impact and progress. The downloads and citations of papers made OA later never catch up with those of papers made OA immediately:

Gentil-Beccot, A., Mele, S., & Brooks, T. C. (2010). Citing and reading behaviours in high-energy physics: Scientometrics, 84(2), 345-355.

The date when a peer-reviewed paper is ready to be made OA is the date when the final, peer-reviewed draft is accepted for pubication.

Sometimes there can be delays of months between the date of acceptance and the date of publication of the pubisher?s version of record (VOR).

And some (a minority) of publishers have imposed embargoes of up to 12 months from the date of publication before authors can make their articles OA.

The delay from acceptance to publication, and the delay from publication till the end of any OA embargo all add up tp lost research access, uptake, usage, applications and progress.

DOE and OSTI have been directed by OSTP to adopt a policy that ensures that OA is provided to federally funded research ? by 12 months after the date of publication at the very latest.

This is not a mandate to adopt a policy that ensures that OA is provided “at the very latest possible date.”

Yet that is what DOE has done ? no doubt under the influence of the publishing industry lobby.

The interests of research and researchers — and hence of the public that funds the research — are that the research should be made OA as soon as possible.

The interests of (some of) the publishing industry are that it should be made OA as late as possible.

The DOA has adopted a policy that serves the interests of the publishing industry rather than those of research, researchers and the tax-paying public.

The simplest remedy for this is not necessarily that the permissible OA embargo length needs to be reduced (though that would be extremely welcome and beneficial too!).

Even within the constraints of a permissible OA embargo of 12 months at the very latest, there is a simple way to make the DOE policy much more powerful and effective, guaranteeing much more and earlier access.

All that has to be done is to make immediate deposit of the author?s final, peer-reviewed draft, in the author?s institutional repository, mandatory immediately upon acceptance.

Not just the metadata: the full final draft.

If the author wishes to comply with a publisher OA embargo, the deposit need not be made OA immediately.

Institutional repositories have an automated copy-request Button with which a user can request a single copy for research purposes, and the author can comply with the request, with just one click each.

This is not OA, but it is almost-OA, and it is all that is needed to maximize research access, usage and progress during any permissible OA embargo.

And besides maximizing access during any permissible OA embargo, requiring immediate institutional deposit also mobilizes institutions to monitor and ensure timely compliance with the funding agency?s requirement.

The metadata for the deposit can be exported from each institutional repository to the DOE PAGES portal immediately, and then the portal, too (like google and google scholar), can immediately begin referring users back to the Button at the institution so the author can provide almost-OA with a single click until the end of any embargo.

There is no need whatsoever to wait either for the publisher?s VOR, or for the end of the publisher?s embargo, or for Libre OA re-use rights: those can come when they come.

But immediate institutional deposit needs to be mandated immediately.

Otherwise the DOE is needlessly squandering months and months of potential research uptake, usage and progress for federally funded research.

Please harmonize the DOE OA policy with the corresponding EU OA policy, as well as the HEFCE OA policy in the UK, the FRS OA policy in Belgium, and a growing number of institutional OA policies the world over.

Stevan Harnad