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Groundbreaking University of California policy extends free access to all scholarly articles written by UC employees

birds 250Today the University of California expands the reach of its research publications by issuing a Presidential Open Access Policy, allowing future scholarly articles authored by all UC employees to be freely shared with readers worldwide. Building on UC’s previously-adopted Academic Senate open access (OA) policies, this new policy enables the university system and associated national labs to provide unprecedented access to scholarly research authored by clinical faculty, lecturers, staff researchers, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students and librarians – just to name a few. Comprising ten campuses, five medical centers, and nearly 200,000 employees, the UC system is responsible for over 2% of the world’s total research publications. UC’s collective OA policies now cover more authors than any other institutional OA policy to date.

The Presidential OA Policy represents the culmination of significant effort among UC faculty and staff to support increased access to their research publications, from the adoption of the first UC senate OA policy (UCSF) in 2012, to the establishment of the more comprehensive UC-wide Academic Senate policy in 2013. “Until now, tenure-track faculty have had the privilege of passing such policies to govern themselves, but at most universities, such faculty are a fraction of the people who do research and publish articles,” explains Christopher Kelty, professor of Information Studies and Anthropology at UCLA and chair of the Presidential Open Access Policy Task Force. “Extending the same rights to those who aren’t part of a faculty governance system is an important and difficult step–I’m thrilled we have accomplished it.”

Meredith Niles, who recently received her Ph.D. in Ecology from UC Davis, agrees. Niles, now an assistant professor at the University of Vermont, is former External Chair for the UC Davis Graduate Student Association and was involved in the GSA’s efforts to advocate for greater OA rights for graduate students, one of the many groups who will now benefit from the new policy. “Students have already recognized that significant academic contributions come from all corners of our university. UC Davis students passed resolutions urging UC to consider extending the open access policy to graduate students. Now UC has taken the next step to affirm what graduate students have already demonstrated: a strong desire to make all scholarly research, regardless of its source, openly available to all members of society,” says Niles.

UC’s OA policies enable UC authors to grant rights to the university prior to any contractual arrangement with publishers. Authors can then rely on those rights to make their research widely and publicly available via eScholarship (UC’s open access repository), in tandem with their publication in scholarly journals. These rights also enable authors to reuse their articles for various purposes or to modify them for future publications. Previously, publishers had sole control of the distribution of these articles.

Scholarly articles covered by the policy will continue to be subjected to rigorous peer review where appropriate, and UC employees remain free to publish their research in journals of their own choosing. The important difference is, this vast body of research will now be available to communities worldwide, regardless of their location or their level of access to subscription-based publications. Susan Carlson, Vice Provost for Academic Personnel and Programs notes, “With the Presidential Open Access Policy’s inclusion of scholarly articles authored by a wide range of UC researchers, the University affirms its mission as a forward-looking public research institution in service to the people of California and to scholars around the world.”

Learn more about open access policies and their implementations at UC: uc-oa.info.

Visit eScholarship, UC’s open access repository.

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  • Jorge

    Very good example for all the world!

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