Open Access News

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Stirling U adopts an OA mandate

Stirling research goes global, a press release from Stirling University, April 9, 2008.  The press release includes an announcement and the full text of the new policy.  Excerpt:

The University of Stirling has become the first academic institution in the UK to oblige staff to make all their published research available online.

Stirling is leading the way in open access to its research work, after the University's Academic Council issued an institutional mandate which requires self-archiving of all theses and journal articles.

Professor Ian Simpson, Deputy Principal (Research and Knowledge Transfer) said: "We believe that the outcomes of all publicly funded research should be made available as widely as possible. By ensuring free online access to all our research output, we will maximise the visibility and impact of the University's work to researchers worldwide."

The four year project to create STORRE (Stirling Online Research Repository) has been brought to fruition by information technology specialists Clare Allan and Michael White.

Clare Allan said: "The University now requires all published journal articles to be deposited by authors, as soon as possible after they are accepted for publication, and in compliance with the publishers' copyright agreements.

"It is an important landmark in our archival development and marks the conclusion of a process that started in 2004 when Stirling was one of 20 academic institutions which signed up to the OATS (Open Access Team for Scotland) declaration. The repository project initially focused on electronic theses and in session 2006/07 we became one of the first universities to require these to be submitted electronically.

"The next stage was a pilot scheme for self-archiving of journal articles by some researchers, and this has now become mandatory. We are also building up a retrospective archive." ...

Michael White added: "We are hopeful of a very positive response from researchers to the requirement to self-archive, as they will benefit from greater visibility of their work - such as increased citations from their published work, which in turn can lead to improved funding. To quantify this, they can track how often each article is viewed." ...

Comment.  The Stirling policy is not only the first university-level OA mandate in the UK, but the second worldwide (after Harvard's) to be adopted by faculty rather than administrators.  Moreover, it's detailed and strong.  I'm especially glad to see that it requires deposit "immediately upon acceptance for publication" even if it permits delayed OA "until the item has been published, and until any publishers' or funders' embargo period has expired."  Kudos to all involved.

Update.  Historical note:  The Stirling policy is the second university-level OA mandate in the UK.  The first was from Southampton University, announced less than a week earlier (April 4) at Open Repositories 2008.  The Southampton press release hasn't even been posted yet, but Stevan Harnad blogged the news on April 5 and I blogged his report on April 6.  There were two earlier departmental OA mandates, one from Southampton's Department of Electronics and Computer Science in January 2003, and one from Brunel University's School of Information Systems Computing and Mathematics in December 2006.  But Stirling's is clearly the first in Scotland.  I should have remembered the earlier policies, since I blogged them all.

Update (4/10/08).  Another historical note:  The Stirling policy was adopted by the Stirling Academic Council on March 5, 2008.  (Thanks to Michael White.)  I'm sure I'll soon learn when the Southampton policy was adopted.  But no matter how the priorities turn out, both policies deserve kudos and recognition as trailblazers.  The fact they were the first two in the UK, and nearly simultaneous, shows the ripeness of the idea.  There should be many more to come.

Update. Also see Olga Wojtas' article in THE for April 17, 2008.