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Saturday, January 03, 2009

U of Liege OA mandate moves past its experimental phase

Université de Liège has adopted an OA mandate.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)   Bernard Rentier, the Rector at Liège, has posted an English translation of his November memo to the Liège faculty on the AmSci OA Forum.  Excerpt:

...Here below is the English translation of the message I have sent to the whole University Community on November 26, 2008. I believe that, rather than a lengthy explanation of how the Liège mandate works, this message tells it all much better. It can perhaps be useful as well for those who wish to find a way to obtain compliance within their universities. It demonstrates also that the Liège Mandate is indeed IDOA/DDR (Immediate-Deposit/Optional- Access -- Dual Deposit/Release), to use the latest definitions coined in this forum.

Happy New Year to all !

Bernard Rentier


"Madame, Monsieur, Cher(e) Collègue,

The increase in international visibility of the ULg [Université de Liège] and its researchers, mainly through their publications, as well as the support for the worldwide development of an open and free access to scientific works (Open Access) are two essential objectives at the heart of my action, as you probably know.

At my request, the Institutional Repository "ORBi" (Open Repository & Bibliography) has been set up at the ULg by the Libraries Network to meet these objectives.

[1] The experimental encoding phase based on volunteerism being now successfully completed, we can step forward and enter the "production phase" this Wednesday November 26th, 2008. I take this opportunity to thank all the professors and researchers who have already filed in ORBi hundreds of their references, 70% of them with the full text. Thanks to their patience, ORBi's fine tuning could be achieved. From today on, it is incumbent upon each ULg member to feed ORBi with his/her own references. In this respect, the Administrative Board of the University has decided to make it mandatory for all ULg members:

  • to deposit the bibliographic references of ALL their publications since 2002;
  • to deposit the integral text of ALL their articles published in periodicals since 2002. Access to these full texts will only be granted with the author's consent and according to the rules applicable to author's rights and copyrights. The University is indeed very keen on respecting the rights of all stakeholders.

[2] For future publications, deposit in ORBi will be mandatory as soon as the article is accepted by the editor.

[3] I wish to remind you that, as announced a year in March 2007, starting October 1st, 2009 only those references introduced in ORBi will be taken into consideration as the official list of publications accompanying any curriculum vitæ in all evaluation procedures 'in house' (designations, promotions, grant applications, etc.)....


  • This is an excellent policy.  I applaud the mandatory language, the dual deposit/release strategy (or what Stevan Harnad calls immediate deposit / optional access), the decision to apply it retroactively to 2002 (but for the immediate deposit rule, of course), and the much-needed and still-too-rare provision that only articles on deposit in the IR will be used for the purposes of promotion and other internal evaluations.  Kudos to Rentier and all others involved in this decision at Liège.
  • The November 2008 announcement is the latest step in a process that started with a mandate announcement in March 2007.  See Rentier's blog post about the evolving policy at the time, in French or Google's English.  One reason why Liège didn't start implementing the policy in March 2007 was that it still had to launch its IR, which happened in June 2008.
  • Also see our past posts on Bernard Rentier and the University of Liège.

Update.  Also see the license (in French or Google's English) that Liege will use for articles on deposit in the IR.

  • Klaus Graf has raised some objections to the license and the practices surrounding its use.  Read them in German or Google's English, or read his own English summary.  Here's my paraphrase of two of them:  First, during an embargo period when Liege doesn't provide OA to the world, it does provide access to users at Liege.  Klaus believes this is illegal.  Second, the license quotes the BOAI on the importance of removing permission barriers, and then makes two exceptions:  it blocks commercial use and derivative works without the author's permission.  Klaus objects that the bar to commercial use is not consistent with the BOAI. 
  • I have no opinion on his first objection.  On his second:  he's right that the bar to commercial use is not consistent with the BOAI.  But although I'm a strong supporter of the BOAI (and its chief drafter), I'm not troubled by what Liege has done.  First, as it read the license, it quotes the BOAI and then makes exceptions.  It doesn't assert that the exceptions are contained in the BOAI itself.  Second and more importantly, most IRs provide gratis, not libre OA.  They don't remove any permission barriers at all.  Indeed, there are good reasons why most green OA is gratis and not libre, and because I understand those reasons I applaud any institution, like Liege, which goes beyond gratis OA to any degree and removes even some permission barriers.  One of the important reasons to distinguish gratis and libre OA was to recognize the OA movement's many gratis OA success stories, such as the vast majority of IRs which remove no permission barriers, without disparaging them for falling short of libre OA.  But if we value gratis OA, without disparaging it for falling short of libre OA, then (a fortiori) we should value libre OA, without disparaging it for falling short of BBB OA. Of course this is consistent with valuing BBB OA most of all.