Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, May 07, 2009

An OA mandate for U of Oregon library faculty

The University of Oregon Library Faculty adopted an OA mandate.  From today's announcement:

The University of Oregon Library Faculty this morning (May 7) unanimously adopted a resolution mandating deposit of scholarly works produced by library faculty members in our institutional repository. The text of the resolution is:

The Library Faculty of the University of Oregon are committed to disseminating the fruits of their research and scholarship as widely as possible. In keeping with that commitment, the Faculty adopts the following policy:

Each Library faculty member gives to the University of Oregon nonexclusive permission to use and make available that author's scholarly articles for the purpose of open dissemination. Specifically, each Library faculty member grants a Creative Commons "Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States" license to each of his or her scholarly articles. The license will apply to all scholarly articles written while the person is a member of the Library Faculty except for any articles accepted for publication before the adoption of this policy and any articles for which the Faculty member entered into an incompatible licensing or assignment agreement before the adoption of this policy. The Dean of the Libraries will waive application of the policy for a particular article upon written notification by the author, who informs the UO of the reason.

To facilitate distribution of the scholarly articles, as of the date of publication, each faculty member will make available an electronic copy of the author's final version of the article and full citation at no charge to a designated representative of the Libraries in appropriate formats (such as PDF) specified by the Libraries. After publication, the University of Oregon Libraries will make the scholarly article available to the public in the UO's institutional repository.

We largely followed the leads of Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and most recently Oregon State (our friends and rivals).  One area where we differ is in explicitly mandating a CC-BY-NC-ND license.  Choosing that license was very conscious.  We believe that it is vital that the community standardize on a small number of licenses to move beyond the present mess where every publisher and practically every author has their own unique terms.  The license we chose is a good candidate for standardization.  It grants sufficient rights for most scholarly purposes, but is also minimalist....Authors who wish to can of course also license their works under a more liberal license such as CC-BY-SA.  Similarly, if a publisher does not object we'd of course rather get the publisher's version for deposit instead of or in addition to the author's final version.

Our expectation is that we will develop an implementation of this policy that includes a blanket license signed by each faculty member as part of their regular contract renewal (to meet the "in writing" requirements of 17 USC 205(d)), plus suggestions for how to negotiate with publishers.  We believe that in most cases no addendum to publishing contracts is needed, but in cases where such an addendum is needed the resolution puts the author in a stronger bargaining position.

The policy doesn't yet have an official web site, but Johnson has created a temporary web page with the text of the policy and an FAQ.


  • First note that this is another unanimous faculty vote.  Even though we've seen unanimous faculty votes for OA mandates at Harvard, Stanford, Macquarie, Boston U, Oregon State, and MIT, it's not getting old.  I still find it hard to imagine any faculty anywhere reaching unanimous agreement even on a toothless proposition like knowledge is good.  But these OA mandates have teeth.  Kudos to the library faculty at the U of Oregon for a strong policy and fresh evidence that faculty support is wide and deep.
  • This is the second OA mandate adopted by library faculty, after the Oregon State U policy in March.
  • I believe it's also the second OA mandate to use a libre OA license, after the U of Leige policy in January.  In February I argued that OA mandates should settle for gratis OA, for the time being, but might add strength "when a libre OA mandate would elicit journal accommodation more often than refusals to publish".  Are we approaching that point?  Testing the waters?  Taking early steps toward a critical mass that will facilitate its own success?  In the same February article I argued that "if a publisher can refuse to publish work subject a strong OA policy, and still find enough other good work to publish, then it might do so.  But this will change as more institutions adopt OA policies and more new work is subject to them."