Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, December 19, 2008

MacArthur Foundation adopts an OA mandate

The MacArthur Foundation adopted a research access policy, which took effect on September 18, 2008.  (Thanks to Donna Okubo.)  Excerpt:

...The Foundation's policy is to ensure that the Grant Work Product furthers charitable purposes and benefits the public. To that end, the Foundation seeks prompt and broad dissemination of the Grant Work Product at minimal cost or, when justified, at a reasonable cost.

The Foundation encourages openness in research and freedom of access to underlying data by persons with a serious interest in the research. Grantees are also encouraged to explore opportunities to use existing and emerging internet distribution models and, when appropriate, open access journals, Creative Commons license or similar mechanisms that result in broad access for the interested field and public.

The Foundation recognizes there may be circumstances where limited or delayed dissemination of Grant Work Product or limited access to data may be appropriate to protect legitimate interests of the grantee, other funders, principal investigators or participants in research studies. Such circumstances will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Intellectual property rights (including copyright and patent rights) should not be used to limit or deny access to the Grant Work Product, to result in exclusive use of such Grant Work Product, or to create revenue that is not used for charitable purposes. While copyright to the Grant Work Product will ordinarily remain with the grantee, the Foundation will require that it be granted a no-cost assignable license to use or publish the Grant Work Product. The Foundation will exercise the license only if the grantee does not or cannot provide for broad and prompt dissemination consistent with this Policy. The Foundation may forego a license if the Foundation is reasonably satisfied that other appropriate arrangements will be implemented that will assure prompt public dissemination of the Grant Work Product.

Comment.  Kudos to all involved.  While the Foundation uses the language of encouragement, the policy operates more like a mandate with case-by-case exceptions.  I like the enforcement mechanism:  a license for each Grant Work Product, which the Foundation will use when grantees do not provide sufficiently open or early access on their own.  I also like the way the policy applies to "Grant Work Products" without restriction --hence, covering data as well as publications.