Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Macquarie VC preparing to propose OA mandate

Steven Schwartz, Open Access: what do you think?  Macquarie University Vice Chancellor's Office, July 3, 2008.  Schwartz is the Vice Chancellor of Macquarie University.  Excerpt:

I am thinking about bringing a paper to the Macquarie University Senate on Open Access, the subject of an earlier blog.

A draft of this paper appears below. I would like your feedback. Have I missed anything? Can the paper be improved?

For more information on Open Access, you might like to consult this guide.

DRAFT - Open Access at Macquarie

Scholarly research is one of Macquarie’s most important contributions to society. As academics, we all have an interest in disseminating our work to the widest possible audience....

It is time for Macquarie University to join the ranks of a growing number of universities worldwide as well as a growing number of funding councils (ARC, NIH, ERC) to mandate that our refereed research output be deposited (“self-archived”) in Macquarie University’s Institutional Repository.

At a minimum, the mandate will only require us to deposit our refereed, revised, final drafts in the Macquarie repository immediately after its acceptance for publication. The electronic copy will provide a record of our research and can be used for government audits, promotions, report generation, grant applications as well as other purposes. In other words, no other data collection will be necessary; no other tiresome forms will need to be completed.

Depositing an article in the repository is not the same as making it accessible to scholars around the world. Articles in the repository will not be automatically accessible to outsiders. The author will determine who has access. This is necessary because some journals have policies that prohibit open access (in some cases, only for an embargo period) and academics need to be flexible in what they make available. Thus, for articles published in journals that do not yet endorse Open Access, or who impose an embargo, access to the deposit can be set as Closed Access permanently or for the length of the embargo. Under Closed Access, only the author has access to the full text. The metadata (author, title, date, journal name, and so on) will still be visible to all users webwide.

In practice, journal policies may not prove to be a major problem. The great majority of scholarly journals do not object to making authors’ self-archived papers “Open Access” immediately. (For a database summarising the policies of most journals, see here). Note, however, that some journals only make the Open Access option available on authors’ request.

For those who wish to fulfill user needs during the Closed Access embargo period, the Macquarie repository will have an “Eprint Request” button. Anyone webwide can press the button to send an automatic Eprint request to the author. The author can click to send one individual Eprint to the requester. Researchers have used this practice for many years, originally with paper reprints. (To see how this works, see here.) ...

To make our scholarly work available to all scholars including those in developing countries and those without access to expensive library subscriptions, and to ensure that the University has a record of its scholarly output, Senate resolves to recommend that Council:

1. mandates that all refereed, revised, final draft manuscripts be deposited in the Macquarie repository after its acceptance for publication;

2. mandates that all journal article manuscripts be deposited in the repository but monographs will be self-archived at authors’ discretion;

3. requires that, where permissible, manuscripts be made Open Access, available to anyone on the web; and

4. permit, where necessary because of journal policy, or the author requests, manuscripts to be made Closed Access until dissemination is permitted.


  • If adopted, this would be one of the strongest university policies anywhere.  I especially applaud its mandatory language, the dual deposit/release strategy or what Stevan Harnad calls immediate deposit / optional access, and the use of an email request button for manuscripts during the period after deposit and before OA release.  I also like the way it offers no opt-out for deposit, and allows slack only on the timing of the release. 
  • My only suggestion is to clear up a slight inconsistency in the "release" half of the deposit/release policy.  Schwartz' description suggests that authors could choose (for a variety of reasons) to leave deposits closed forever even if the publisher's embargo was temporary.  But point #3 of draft resolution requires OA release "where permissible".  My preference would be to resolve this tension in favor of point #3. 
  • Once this tension is resolved, however, I urge Schwartz to present it to the Macquarie University Senate --and the Senate to follow Harvard and Stanford by adopting it in a unanimous vote.