Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Heather Morrison on the CIHR policy

Heather Morrison, Open Access Policy: let's put the public good first! Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, September 4, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Access to Research Outputs Policy is exemplary in its strong support for immediate open access, whether through OA publishing or self-archiving. This is not the clear mandate that we would like to see, but it is a important step forward, and an important contribution to the debate.

One weakness of this, and other OA policies both existing and in development, from my point of view, is the acceptance of embargo (delay) periods to accomodate for-profit publishers.

Since when does public policy put profits first - in this case, before the advances in research that can improve our health, the rights of taxpayers to maximum benefit from their investment?

Do we shy away from public policies requiring building developers to make buildings accessible to the disabled, earthquake-proof, or asbestos-free, out of fear of diminishing the profits of developers?

Another strength of the CIHR policy is the call for annual review. Let us hope that OA activist Dr. Jim Till continues in his role as Chair. Already, here is my suggestion for the first review: brook no delay - require immediate OA!


  • I agree that immediate OA is in the public interest, but I’m also willing to accept an embargo as a compromise to get a policy approved. 
  • I have to disagree that the CIHR policy is exemplary in its strong support for immediate OA.  It’s exemplary in most other ways.  But its gigantic loophole —mandating OA only “where allowable and in accordance with publisher policies”— removes all the teeth from the policy and legitimates publisher resistance.  Publishers who don’t want immediate OA, or OA within six months, or OA ever, may simply say so, and from that moment the policy will no longer apply to CIHR grantees who submit their work to those publishers.  Like Heather, I’d be very happy if the CIHR amended its policy to require immediate OA.  But I’d also be happy if it amended the policy to require —really require— OA within six months.