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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hong Kong decides to encourage OA, not to require it

At its June 2007 meeting, the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (RGC) decided not to mandate OA for RGC-funded research.  However, it did encourage publicly-funded Hong Kong universities to encourage OA. 

Here's the relevant part of the minutes of its June 2007 meeting, which were sent to all Hong Kong university vice-chancellors and presidents on August 6, 2007.  The "UGC institutions" are the eight universities supported with public funds by the University Grants Committee.  I thank the RGC for permission to reproduce this paragraph:

Open-access Repositories for Research Results from UGC Institutions

15.  Some countries have already adopted policies that require results of publicly funded research be made publicly accessible via open-access repositories, and a suggestion has been made to the RGC that we shall adopt similar practice in Hong Kong.  After deliberation, the RGC decided not to make it compulsory for the Principal Investigators (PIs) to allow open access of their research outputs.  However, the RGC strongly encourages your institution and researchers to make available the research output via open-access repositories on a voluntary basis, and/or other publication venues such as journals and books.

Update.  See Stevan Harnad's comment:

Hong Kong's RGC is alas out of step, and -- perhaps unaware of the history of requesting vs. requiring OA -- is fated to repeat that history. Adopting a request rather than a requirement is an already tried and true recipe for failure in providing open access to research (cf. the failed NIH "strong encouragement" policy (compliance rate: <4%) that is now under strong momentum toward upgrading to a mandate).

It may just be a coincidence, but possibly it is pertinent that China was the odd man out in Swan & Brown's 2005 international/interdisciplinary survey of researchers worldwide: Most respondents said they would not self-archive unless their institutions and/or funders required it. When asked whether they would comply with an institutional or funder requirement to self-archive, the international average was about 95% compliance: over 80% willing compliance and less than 15% reluctant compliance. (This has since been confirmed by Arthur Sale's comparative statistics on actual compliance). But for some reason, China was the most reluctant of all, with only 58% willing compliance, and 31% reluctant (Figure 3)....