Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, September 07, 2007

More on the OA mandate from the AHRC

Stevan Harnad, 32nd Green OA Mandate: Kudos and Caveat, Open Access Archivangelism, September 6, 2007.  Excerpt:

The UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is now the 6th of the 7 UK Research Councils to adopt a Green Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate

That makes AHRC's the 18th funder OA mandate worldwide, in addition to 14 university and departmental mandates, 2 proposed multi-university mandates, and 4 proposed funder mandates, for a total of 38 Green OA mandates adopted or proposed so far.

Like most of the mandates adopted so far, the AHRC has some needless, easily-corrected flaws, but first, let us (with Dr. Johnson) applaud the fact that it has been adopted at all: Bravo AHRC!

Now the mandate's altogether unnecessary and ever-so-easily-corrected flaw:

In their anxiety to ensure that their policy is both legal and not needlessly worrisome for publishers, AHRC (and many of the other funder mandates, including yesterday's CIHR mandate from Canada) have allowed an embargo period before the article is made OA, if the publisher wishes.

That is fine. But it is a huge mistake to allow the time at which the article must be deposited to be dictated by the publisher's embargo.

The deposit should be required immediately upon acceptance for publication, without exception. If there is no publisher embargo, that deposit is also immediately made Open Access at that same time. Otherwise it is made Closed Access for the duration of the embargo period. (Only the bibliographic metadata are visible and accessible via the web, not the article itself.)

It may seem pointless to require an article to be deposited immediately if it cannot be made OA immediately. But the point of requiring immediate deposit either way is to close a profound loophole that could otherwise delay both deposit and OA indefinitely, turning the mandate into a mockery from which any researcher can opt out at the behest of his publisher....

PS:  Stevan then quotes my own comments on the AHRC policy, but I’ll merely point to them.  In short, I agree on the need for what Stevan calls immediate deposit / optional access (or what I call the dual deposit/release strategy), but I believe there should also be a firm deadline on the embargo period.

Update. Also see Arthur Sale's comments, building on Stevan's.