Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

California proposes an OA policy for comment

Responding to the Challenges Facing Scholarly Communications, five white papers and a draft policy released for comment by the University of California Academic Council on December 14. All six documents are relevant to OA, in different degrees:
  1. Evaluation of Publications in Academic Personnel Processes
  2. The Case of Journal Publishing
  3. The Case of Scholarly Book Publishing
  4. Scholarly Societies and Scholarly Communication
  5. The Case of Scholarsí Management of Their Copyright
  6. [The draft policy] Proposal for UC Faculty Ė Scholarly Work Copyright Rights Policy
If time is short, see the overview of all six documents. Excerpt from the overview:
During University of California negotiations with publishers of scholarly works in 2004, it became clear to UC faculty that the current models of scholarly communication had become unsustainable. UC Librarians and budget officers had seen this crisis approaching for some years. But long as library budgets could be managed and access to the most critical work could be maintained, faculty members were largely insulated from the growing crisis. When it became clear, in the face of falling university budgets and rising costs of publications, that the UC communityís access to new knowledge would progressively be limited, and that the access by others to UC-produced scholarship would similarly be limited, the Academic Council (effectively the Executive Committee of the UC Academic Senate) established a Special Committee on Scholarly Communication (SCSC) to consider what role the faculty should take in addressing these important issues. The accompanying five short papers and appendices are the result of SCSCís work. The papers define and explain the facultyís view of changes that could improve dissemination of scholarly work to enhance the discovery and communication of new knowledge, and best serve the public interest. The current model for many publications is that faculty write articles and books, referee them, edit them and then give them to a publisher with the assignment of copyright. The publisher then sells them back to the faculty and their universities, particularly to university research libraries. While there clearly are costs of publication, a number of publishers (particularly, but not always, for-profit corporations) earn munificent profits for their shareholders and owners. However, maximizing profits for these latter groups may work to the detriment of faculty, educational institutions and the public. Meanwhile, opportunities to reduce production and distribution costs and to create innovative forms of publication and dissemination are increasingly manifest, and enabled by networked digital technologies, new business models, and new partnerships....One [white paper] discusses copyright issues, and recommends that faculty authors adopt the practice of granting to publishers non-exclusive copyright of their research results, while retaining copyright for other educational purposes, including placing work in open access online repositories....We feel that faculty, University administration, publishers and societies can work collaboratively not only to improve and sustain dissemination of scholarship, but can materially improve it using new technology. It is the Academic Senateís intention to work actively with the University of California Administration to press for and enact the changes outlined in these papers, and to encourage their wide adoption throughout the world, both by other faculties and universities, and by the publishers of our scholarly work.

Excerpt from the white paper on journal publishing:

The Academic Senate calls upon Ė and seeks partnerships with Ė those who publish scholarly journals to: [1] Seek only the copyrights necessary for first publication; [2] Concentrate on adding value to, rather than ownership of, scholarship; [3] Pursue innovation to improve scholarly communication systems; [4] Avoid monopoly pricing; [5] Provide transparent financial information; [6] Enable ongoing access to the persistent scholarly record; and [7] Provide full information about peer review and copyright policies and processes.

Excerpt from the white paper on copyright management:

We call upon UC faculty and scholars at other institutions to exercise control of their scholarship, and their institutions to support this behavior, in at least the following ways: [1] UC and other faculty members must manage their intellectual property in ways that ensure the widest dissemination of works in service to education and research. Specifically, and with the understanding that copyright is actually a bundle of rights that can be separately managed, we urge faculty to transfer to publishers only the right of first publication, OR at a minimum, retain rights that allow postprint archiving and subsequent non-profit use. [2] As part of copyright management, faculty shall routinely grant to The Regents of the University of California a limited, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive license to place the faculty memberís scholarly work in a non-commercial open-access repository for purposes of online dissemination and preservation on behalf of the author and the public. [3] The University must explore and develop support services to assist faculty to manage their copyright and disseminate their scholarship. [4] University stakeholders must continue to partner, explore, and create a set of information management services including, but not limited to, alternative modes of publishing and disseminating information that allow broadest access at the lowest sustainable cost to the scholar, students and the public.

Excerpt from the proposed copyright policy:

In order to facilitate scholarly communication and maximize the impact of the scholarship of UC faculty1, the Academic Councilís Special Committee on Scholarly Communication (SCSC)s proposes that the Academic Council consider the following recommended UC copyright policy change:
ďA faculty memberís ownership of copyright is controlled by the University of California Policy on Ownership of Copyright. University of California faculty shall routinely grant to The Regents of the University of California a limited, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive license to place the faculty memberís scholarly work in a non-commercial open-access online repository. In the event a faculty member assigns all or a part of the faculty memberís copyright rights to a publisher as part of a publication agreement, the faculty member must retain the right to grant this license to the Regents.Ē
Faculty can opt out of this agreement for any specific work, or invoke a specific delay before such work appears in an open-access repository....No income will accrue to the Regents, the University or the Academic by this non-exclusive copyright license.

Comment. I can't find the deadline for comments or the address to which comments should be sent. If I were at the U of California, I'd send supportive comments immediately to both the Academic Council and the Special Committee on Scholarly Communication. I might recommend a simplification of the policy, e.g. one that merely requires faculty to deposit their peer-reviewed journal manuscripts in the UC repository immediately upon acceptance for publication. But even without this kind of streamlining, the policy is strong and the accompanying statements of principle are excellent. If you have colleagues at the U of California, please alert them to these documents and urge them to send send supportive comments with or without reservations.