Sunday, June 29, 2008

Three forthcoming OA policies announced at ELPUB in Toronto

Three new open access policies were announced by Canadians at the ELPUB 2008 conference in Toronto last week.

Stanford Faculty of Education
John Willinsky, in his home town of Toronto, announced the Stanford Faculty of Education unanimous OA mandate, as detailed by Peter Suber on Open Access News. What was most remarkable about John's announcement is the ease of the decision - the question was raised about whether Stanford's Faculty of Education should adopt a policy similar to Harvard's, and the answer was yes!

Comment: watch for more and more reports along these lines - institutional OA policies that come much, much easier than earlier victories. Why? Thanks to these early victories, we have models. Harvard did not have the Harvard OA mandate to refer to - but now, all of us do!

National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)
Kathleen Shearer, research associate at the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), talked about an open access policy in the works at Canada's NSERC, one of Canada's three major federal funding agencies, anticipated for March 2009. The NSERC policy is likely to resemble that of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, with expectation of OA within 6 months of publication via OA publishing (preferred and encouraged) or self-archiving. Kathleen stressed that OA policies need to be accompanied by strong implementation strategies, and that libraries have a key role to play in OA education, advocacy, and infrastructure.

Ontario Institute of Cancer Research
Francis Ouellette of the Ontario Institute of Cancer Research announced that an OICR Policy on Access to Research Outputs is nearing completion and details will be released within the next couple of weeks, adapted from the CIHR's Open Access policy document. An OICR institutional repository will be established, and OICR funded scientists will be expected to deposit peer-reviewed journals articles in the IR as soon as they are accepted for publication, and made freely accessible within 6 months of publication. OICR encourages publication in fully open access journals, and has plans for a fund for direct reimbursement of OA article processing fees for OICR-funded research, up to a maximum of $3,500 if the first, last or corresponding author is funded by the OICR. It is assumed that if scientists belonging to multiple institutions are contributing to a publication, they will share proportionately the cost of publication. Researchers are also expected to immediately deposit publication-related resesarch data into a publicly accessible database.

Comments: Kudos to OICR and the open access policy team, chaired by Jim Till. OICR funds about 60 principal investigators at about $75 million per year, and is in a growth process; in the next few years, OICR is expected to grow to about 120 principal investigators. While OICR follows the CIHR open access policy, clarification of expectation of access via a reprint request button for articles embargoed beyond six months is an important improvement. The optional OA-publication-specific funding is a welcome addition which will really help in the transition to open access. The maximum limit of $3,500 is very generous, more than most current OA article processing fees and even to cover even the researcher with a major breakthrough with an article well-suited for the very highest end journals in scholarly publishing.
Note: watch for OA policies at other Canadian provincial funding agencies - discussions are underway!

Could Canada become the first country in the world to mandate that all publicly funded research be open access? That day is not yet here - but with these announcements and more to come, it might not be long...

This post is part of the Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement series.