Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, March 14, 2008

Library criteria for journal subscription and renewal

There's a good discussion thread on LibLicense in response to Heather Morrison's suggestion that librarians should take a journal's policy on author rights and OA into account, as one factor among others, when deciding whether to subscribe or renew.


  • Heather's idea is an excellent one.  An important variation on it was included in the EC-commissioned report on STM publishing and OA in Europe (January 2006).  Recommendation A3 asked universities to go beyond impact factors to more comprehensive and nuanced ways of measuring journal quality.  In particular, universities should add "quality of dissemination" --which includes permission for OA archiving-- to the other criteria they current use.  (In the same report, Recommendation A1 called for an EU-wide OA mandate for publicly-funded research.)
  • Librarians can go even further than taking journal access policies into account.  They can demand better access policies when negotiating licensing terms for subscription or renewal.  OhioLink has done this since 2006.  (OhioLink is a consortium of 86 academic libraries in Ohio representing more than 600,000 faculty, students, and staff.)  In a May 2006 document, it said: "In parallel with individual author action, OhioLINK will seek to add a clause to its licenses with publishers in its Electronic Journal Center. This clause will seek to automatically provide the recommended self archiving and access rights to all personnel of Ohio higher education institutions."  I know of at least two major universities trying to do the same thing, but so far without making their efforts public.  All universities should do what they can to negotiate better terms for their authors, not just better terms for their readers.