Stand up for an OA mandate at your university

John Willinsky, How To Institute an Open Access Policy? Stand Up,, September 28, 2008.  Excerpt:

On June 10th, my colleagues in the Stanford University School of Education listened patiently as I stood before them explaining how the Harvard Law School had passed an “open access” motion which was going to lead to free online access to all of the scholarly articles that they published. We were on a faculty retreat, at a hotel by the ocean near Monterey, California, with the waves rolling in not far from where we were sitting. An opening had appeared in the program, and I jumped in, asking for the time to explain what such a policy could mean for the work of a school or department….

[The faculty] wondered about the copyright. I explained how the term “nonexclusive” was key….The author as the original copyright holder grants a non-exclusive right to post this particular copy prior to transferring the remaining rights to the publisher.

They wondered, as well, why in the world publishers would accept this. And I explained that the publishers already had, at least in principle. The majority of publishers grant authors, in exchange for the author turning over copyright to their work, the right to post their work in just such an archive, sometimes some months after publication….

We talked briefly about what this access might mean for who reads law school scholarship and all the more so, in the case of an education school, which…saw itself having a responsibility for the professionalism of teachers and for addressing public interests in education.

However, before we had been at it for half-an-hour, people were saying let’s just do it. Let’s pass an open access motion for the School of Education, and let’s do it right here and right now. I was taken aback by the ease with which this idea garnered nods and shrugs of assent.

Before the hour was up, we had passed an open access motion that committed the School to sharing what it knew or at least what it had discovered and submitted for publication….

The times may be a changing. It had been very hard, only a few years ago, to get researchers to look up from their work long enough to explain access issues. Putting an article in a journal, as they saw it, made things public enough. No more. No longer. Greater openness, greater accessibility of knowledge has become part of culture. Now is the time to make it standard practice and a common policy within universities.

To help other departments, schools and faculties take this step of making open access a policy, I put together a webpage on the Open Access Policy….

Take advantage of the times, my fellow scholars and researchers. It could prove dead easy for you, too, to stand up and reposition your institution within this larger world of public knowledge.

PS:  For background, also see our past blog posts on the Stanford OA mandate, and the recent post about it by Bret Waters, a member of the Advisory Council for the Stanford School of Education.