Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, February 21, 2008

After eight months, 27% compliance with Wellcome Trust OA mandate

Zoe Corbyn, Low compliance with open-access rule criticised, Times Higher Education, February 21, 2008.  Excerpt:

Concerns that policies to ensure "open access" to academic research are stalling were raised this week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference.

A study presented at the conference in Boston found that less than a third of the papers generated with Wellcome Trust funding are making it into the public domain - in direct contravention of the trust's open-access policies.

Under the Wellcome Trust's policy, which came into effect in full in October 2006, grant holders are required to make their papers freely accessible in PubMed Central and UK PubMed Central, the free digital repositories of biomedical and life science papers. They should be deposited as soon as possible after final publication and no later than six months....

A survey undertaken last month by the trust reveals that compliance with the mandatory policy is low. Of trust-funded papers published in May 2007, only 27 per cent were freely available within six months.

"We want the figure to be much higher, but it should be remembered that this compliance has been achieved within eight months of the policy going live," Robert Kiley, head of e-strategy at the trust, told Times Higher Education in advance of his AAAS presentation.

The Wellcome Trust study also shows that publishers with open-access policies are failing to deposit papers....

Elsevier, the biggest single publisher used by Wellcome researchers, published 29 per cent of the papers but subsequently deposited only 14 per cent.

"The low submission rate is, to a large part, a lack of awareness on the part of the publisher as to who has funded the research they are publishing," said Mr Kiley, stressing that Elsevier had recently modified procedures to improve authors' disclosure of funding sources.

Open-access advocate Stevan Harnad, professor of electronics and computer science at the University of Southampton, said that authors should be required to deposit papers in repositories set up by their own institutions rather than to use central repositories.

Update.  Also see Stevan Harnad's detailed comment at the newspaper site (no deep link), reprinted this morning on his blog.  Excerpt:

...[The Wellcome Trust compliance rate of 30%] is considerably higher than the NIH non-mandate's 4% rate (recently upgraded to a mandate), and it is above the overall 5-15% spontaneous baseline rate for self-archiving, but it is not clear whether it is climbing as high or as fast as the compliance rate for institutional mandates (approaching 80-100% within 2 years). If it is not, then this is yet another reason for mandating institutional rather than central deposit, and deposit by the author rather than by the author-or-publisher. That way each institution can add its own weight to the funder mandates, and can monitor compliance....

(2) Arthur Sale's analyses comparing deposit rates for mandated and unmandated Institutional Repositories (IRs) show that (2a) unmandated deposits hover between 5-15%, (2b) encouraged and incentivized deposits climb toward 30% but not much higher, whereas (2c) mandated deposits approach 80-100% within about two years of adoption of the mandate....

Update. Also see the Wellcome Trust's own announcement of the compliance figures (February 21, 2008). Excerpt:

...The study, which focused on Trust-funded papers published in May 2007, showed that 27 per cent of papers published in this month complied with the Trust's open access policy, by being made available through the online databases PubMed Central and UK PubMed Central within six months of publication. This is an increase on the 15 per cent figure for research published in December 2006.

Encouragingly, over 90 per cent of papers published in May 2007 were published in journals that comply with the Trust's open access policy - a result of close cooperation between the Wellcome Trust and the major scientific, technical and medical publishers....