Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, April 28, 2008

Important white paper from SPARC and Science Commons

SPARC and Science Commons have released a white paper, Open doors and open minds:  What faculty authors can do to ensure open access to their work, April 2008.  From the paper's overview:

...[D]espite...opportunities for increasing access to knowledge, the prices of scholarly journals have risen sharply over the past two decades, often forcing libraries to cancel subscriptions.  Today even the wealthiest institutions cannot afford to sustain all of the journals needed by their faculties and students.

To take advantage of the opportunities created by the Internet and to further their mission of creating, preserving, and disseminating knowledge, many academic institutions are taking steps to capture the benefits of more open research sharing. Colleges and universities have built digital repositories to preserve and distribute faculty scholarly articles and other research outputs. Many individual authors have taken steps to retain the rights they need, under copyright law, to allow their work to be made freely available on the Internet and in their institution’s repository....

Most recently, on February 12, 2008, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) at Harvard University took a landmark step.  The faculty voted to adopt a policy requiring that faculty authors send an electronic copy of their scholarly articles to the university’s digital repository and that faculty authors automatically grant copyright permission to the university to archive and to distribute these articles unless a faculty member has waived the policy for a particular article. Essentially, the faculty voted to make open access to the results of their published journal articles the default policy for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University.

As of March 2008, a [similar] proposal is also under consideration in the University of California....

Inspired by the example set by the Harvard faculty, this White Paper is addressed to the faculty and administrators of academic institutions who support equitable access to scholarly research and knowledge, and who believe that the institution can play an important role as steward of the scholarly literature produced by its faculty.  This paper discusses both the motivation and the process for establishing a binding institutional policy that automatically grants a copyright license from each faculty member to permit deposit of his or her peer-reviewed scholarly articles in institutional repositories, from which the works become available for others to read and cite.

From the summary in today's announcement:

The white paper...offers a concise explanation of U.S. Copyright Law and how it relates to the scholarly publishing process, and makes specific suggestions for faculty and advocates to pursue a campus-wide policy. The guide offers a detailed plan of action, a series of institutional license options, and a 10-point list of actions for realizing a policy and adopting the right University License to meet the institution's particular needs.

Three different licenses, which are granted to the institution by the author, are offered for consideration.

Case 1. Broad license grant - a non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise all of the author's exclusive rights under copyright, including the right to grant sublicenses.

Case 2. Intermediate license grant - involves license restrictions that modify the scope of the license grant in Case 1.

Case 3. Narrow license grant - grants to the university only the right to deposit the article in the institutional repository, and to make it available through the repository Web site.

The paper also recommends mandatory deposit of articles in institutional repositories. Mandatory deposit may be adopted regardless of the licensing policy chosen....