Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

OA mandate discussed by U of Virginia Faculty Senate

The University of Virginia Faculty Senate considered an OA resolution on April 8.  (Thanks to iNODE via Charles Bailey.)   From the resolution:

...Factors specifically driving faculty consideration of authors? rights and open-access include:

  • The routine loss of control over the intellectual property produced by faculty as researchers and scholars in a copyright regime controlled by publishers.
  • The sorry fate of many scholarly imprints and university presses which have played such a central role in promotion and tenure processes through their peer review and publication of academic scholarship.
  • The enormous price paid by research libraries to buy back scholarship that is produced in great part within the academy itself.
  • The preservation and dissemination requirements of born-digital scholarship and the general opportunities posed by new technologies.
  • A changing philosophy of intellectual property ownership, especially where public agencies and private philanthropies have provided core research funding.
  • Growth of new open-access and open-source licensing mechanisms....

Individual faculty can work today with author's addenda and other tools to obtain greater control over their scholarly works and ensure that uses now possible with technology are not given away, but few appear aware of this potential. The benefits of asserting such control can be immediate and important - whether enabling electronic distribution of articles to students and colleagues without fearing violation of a publication agreement, submittal of such works to a departmental or scholarly repository, or maintaining control over a revised edition of a scholarly monograph. The potential impact of any single individual attempting to negotiate alone is dwarfed, however, by the possibilities inherent in coherent and collective action by the country?s important institutions of higher education. It is that leverage which has been endorsed by the UVa Faculty Senate Task Force on Scholarly Publications and Author?s Rights through its submittal of the Resolution attached as Exhibit A....


Adoption of a strong open-access resolution by the Faculty Senate would place the University in a leadership position on scholarly communications without having to reinvent the wheel on every point of implementation. It would make a significant difference both locally and nationally to have a faculty of the University?s caliber adopt a strong statement on author?s rights. If implemented by the Provost, the University would host and preserve a significant amount of scholarly work for non-commercial research, teaching, and learning activities. Obtaining greater control over their copyrights as a matter of formal policy would enable all UVa faculty members to put their scholarly articles up on personal or departmental websites, to maintain other forms of control over the scholarship they produce, and to know that their work would be preserved and made accessible to future generations of students and scholars.

Draft Resolution on Open Access and Scholarship 3.24.09

Adapted from the resolution passed on February 12, 2008, by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University....

NOW THEREFORE the Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia hereby adopts and endorses the following policy to govern copyrights in scholarly articles authored by the faculty and respectfully asks the Provost to implement this grant of copyrights and to develop an Open Access Program for the University of Virginia as provided below:

Each Faculty member at the University of Virginia will grant to the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia a nonexclusive, irrevocable, non-commercial, global license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of her or his scholarly articles, in any medium, and to authorize others to do the same, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit. This policy will be applied to all scholarly articles written while the person is a member of the faculty except for any articles completed before the adoption of this policy and any articles for which the Faculty member entered into an incompatible licensing or assignment agreement before the adoption of this policy. The Provost or the Provost?s designee will waive application of the policy for a particular article upon written request by a Faculty member.

To assist the University in making the articles widely available, each faculty member will provide an electronic version of the final peer-reviewed manuscript version of the article at no charge to a designated representative of the Provost?s Office. The Provost's Office or the Provost?s designee shall make the article available to the public in an open-access electronic repository no sooner than twelve months (12 months), from the date of publication of the article, such public access to be accomplished as soon as reasonably possible thereafter.

The Office of the Provost of the University of Virginia will be responsible for implementing this policy and for resolving - in consultation with the Faculty Senate or its designee, disputes concerning its interpretation and implementation. The policy will be reviewed after two years and a report prepared by the Faculty Senate for distribution to the University Faculty and the Office of the Provost.


  • Kudos to the UVa Task Force on Scholarly Publication and Authors' Rights for bringing this forward.
  • The Faculty Senate minutes are not yet online.  Does anyone know whether the resolution was approved?
  • The story in UVa's newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, says that the resolution was "introduced" and "presented" but says nothing about the outcome.  It doesn't even say that the outcome is secret.  However, FWIW, it uses the indicative rather than the subjunctive to talk about the resolution's effects:  "the resolution will only affect scholarly articles" (as opposed to books) and "the policy will be reviewed after two years".  So does that mean it passed?  (Why should we have to guess?)

Update (4/24/09). Gavin Baker learned from a contact at UVa that the Faculty Senate took no action on the resolution. The Senate may return to it later but probably not until the fall.