Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, March 09, 2009

OA "in question" for NRC Research Press journals

Andre Vellino, Open Access for Canadian Scientific Publishing at Risk, Ethical Dilemmas, March 7, 2009.  Excerpt:

One consequence of the privatization of the NRC Research Press and its separation from CISTI (Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information) is the risk that Canada’s largest academic science publisher will no longer be able to sustain its Open Access publishing policy.  Currently, the home page of the NRC Research Press informs us that:

NRC Research Press journals are compliant with open access policies of top international granting bodies, including the US National Institutes of Health, the Wellcome Trust, the UK Medical Research Council, the Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale in France, and others. The Press allows authors extensive rights to archive pre-prints and post-prints of their manuscripts (6 months after publication). According to the SHERPA project on open access, NRC Research Press is a “green” publisher, offering authors the highest level of archiving rights.

However, the message that the Director General of CISTI has sent out to stakeholders [February 26, 2009] states:

Free electronic access to Research press journals for Canadians is in question due to the projected loss of DSP support.

“DSP” refers to the Government of Canada’s Depository Services Program whose mission is

to ensure that Canadians have ready and equal access to federal government information.

So while it is likely that a privatized Research Press will aim to stay as “Open” as possible, it may no longer be able to afford “free access” to Canadians for the content it publishes....

PS:  NRC Research Press publishes 17 journals.  Also see our past posts on the press.

Update (3/17/09).  Tracey Lauriault at has some new details:

...CISTI has just suffered very serious budget cuts - 70% cut - that affects scientific innovation, access to scientific data, the dissemination of Canadian Science and open access publishing.

The Government of Canada and the National Research Council of Canada have decided that the journals and services of NRC Research Press will be transferred to the private sector.

Privatization? In a sense they are a victim of their own success.  The NRC frames it as follows in a letter to their clients (e.g. Depository Service Program):

this transformation is not the development of a “new business” but the movement of a successful program into a new legal and business environment. It is our belief that this new environment will afford us more flexibility to manage our publishing activities.

More flexibility to reduce services to Canadians more like it since the Depository Services Program (DSP) and the delivery of online access to journals to Canadians cannot be funded by an entity outside of the Federal government, and it is expected that the termination date to journals delivered in this way will be sometime in 2010....

Update (4/7/09). Also see Norman Oder's article in Library Journal.