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2007 Proposed Open Access Policy

Citing the University of California Senate’s recommendation that the University take action “to facilitate scholarly communication and maximize the impact of the scholarship of UC faculty,” Provost Rory Hume asks the UC Chancellors and Academic Senate to review a proposed Open Access Policy. The policy proposes that UC faculty authors of published articles or conference proceedings retain their copyright but routinely give the University non-exclusive permission to make their research findings available in a publicly accessible online repository such as UC’s eScholarship repository.

Frequently Asked Questions

February 2007

The UC Open Access Policy proposal was initiated by a request delivered to the President and subsequently to Provost Hume from the Academic Assembly dated May 30, 2006 to develop what at the time was titled the UC Faculty Scholarly Work Copyright Rights Policy that would “facilitate scholarly communication and maximize the impact of the scholarship of UC faculty.”

To help the UC community understand and contribute to the review of the policy, the Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) has collaborated with policy framers to provide the following answers to some frequently asked questions. Most questions and answers are updates of those endorsed by the Senate’s Universitywide Committee on the Library (UCOL) in August 2006 in response to the Senate’s original policy proposal.(1)

1. What is the goal of the policy proposal?
2. What are the origins of the policy proposal?
3. To whom would the policy apply?
4. Does this policy reduce faculty rights?
5. Does this policy mean that the Regents will control UC scholarly work?
6. I believe publishers require me to give copyright to them in order to publish my work. Does the policy change that?
7. What role does the publication agreement (or contract) addendum play?
8. Is the policy a threat to journals, especially of non-profit scholarly society journals?
9. Does the policy, or open access to research results, threaten or diminish peer review?
10. Will this policy affect my ability to sell commercially valuable ideas?
11. Will this policy disadvantage junior or untenured faculty who are under pressure to publish in certain journals regardless of the copyright policies of the journal publisher?
12. The policy talks about making work “permanently accessible.” Is that really possible?
13. I am in the habit of placing articles on my departmental/personal web site. Doesn’t that suffice?
14. I have heard about disciplinary repositories, such as the NIH’s PubMed Central and the Physics arXiv. How does the policy affect the potential for depositing my work in such places?
15. How will the process for depositing works, for opting-out of the policy, etc. work?
16. How can I be sure that placing my paper in a repository will actually make it more widely available?
17. Is there any evidence that open access to research publications actually increases their impact?
18. Will the policy or the open access repositories protect me from plagiarism, or from someone altering my paper and using it in a way I disapprove of?
19. How does the policy apply to papers with one or more co-authors outside of UC?
20. Are there other things I should be thinking about or discussing to better understand my own and UC’s options to contribute to the healthy evolution of scholarly communication?

1. What is the goal of the policy proposal?

According to the Academic Personnel Manual (section 010) the University’s fundamental mission “is to discover knowledge and to disseminate it to its students and to society at large.” By creating a mechanism through which the University has permission to create “open” access to faculty publications, the policy directly pursues this goal and enables the maximum impact of the research and scholarship of the UC faculty. The proposed policy accomplishes this by reaffirming each faculty member’s ownership and management of copyright in their scholarship while adding to that tradition and extant policy the routine transfer of a specific, non-exclusive permission — in legalese, a “license” — to the university to place a copy of articles from journals and conference proceedings in a publicly available online system, i.e. an “open access repository.”

The policy also puts the collective weight of the faculty, and the formal policy of the University, to ensure that individual faculty publication agreements with journal publishers allow unconstrained non-commercial use of UC’s scholarship. Instead of negotiating individually with a publisher for the retention of key rights, the Open Access Policy establishes a university-wide practice that discourages journal publishers from insisting on the complete transfer of copyrights from the author to the publisher.

2. What are the origins of the policy proposal?

The UC Open Access proposal draws upon the Academic Council’s Special Committee on Scholarly Communication’s (SCSC) white paper The Case of Scholar’s Management of their Copyright, one of five companion papers discussing UC and the academic community’s responses to today’s challenges and opportunities in scholarly communication. The proposed policy directly addresses the principal action called for in the white paper – that UC faculty manage their copyright in ways that ensure the widest dissemination of their work in service to education and research.

3. To whom would the policy apply?

The policy is meant to apply to faculty members, i.e. the group described in the current copyright policy as “Designated Academic Appointees – Those University employees who have a general obligation to produce scholarly/aesthetic works. Included are all appointees in the Professor series, In-Residence series, and the Professional Research series.”

4. Does this policy reduce faculty rights?

No. The policy affirms and builds upon current the UC policy and academic tradition of faculty ownership of copyright in their scholarly work. It attempts to make it easier for authors to achieve maximum use and impact from their scholarship by transferring a specific, non-exclusive right, or license, to the University to make a copy of the article available in a publicly accessible online repository, such as UC’s eScholarship repository. And the policy allows for any faculty member to opt-out of this transfer should their particular publishing situation warrant it.

5. Does this policy mean that the Regents will control UC scholarly work?

No. The regents will have only a specific, non-exclusive right to make a copy of the work available in an open access repository, such as UC’s eScholarship repository. The policy is written so that this right is a non-commercial right. That is, it cannot be exploited commercially by the university and is intended only to enable the university to assist in the widest distribution and the long-term management and preservation of UC research output in the form of articles in journals and conference proceedings.

6. I believe publishers require me to give copyright to them in order to publish my work. Does the policy change that?

The policy takes advantage of the fact that copyright is a bundle of rights which need not be transferred in toto to a publisher, thereby avoiding the exclusive and restrictive publisher control often associated with such transfers (see the UC Copyright Education web site or the Office of Scholarly Communication’s Manage Your Intellectual Property site for more information). It recognizes that publishers need only the specific right of first commercial publication to achieve their aims. In its implementation section it suggests several ways through which the University and faculty members will encourage publishers to honor the policy’s pursuit of greater dissemination and impact, e.g. through communication from the University to publishers alerting them to the policy and its rationale, and through an addendum to typical contracts between authors and publishers that enable UC authors to retain and manage other use rights associated with their work, such as the right to use the work in educational settings or to create derivative works.

7. What role does the publication agreement (or contract) addendum play?

The addendum is a key tool through which authors can: a) alert publishers that they want to maximize access to their work and need to follow UC policy; and, b) personally retain a number of copyright rights which the policy doesn’t require but which are necessary for the author’s greatest flexibility in use of his or her own work. Some publishers have copyright transfer policies and publication contracts that allow open access deposit, and the retention of some other rights (2). With the passage of this policy (and others like it around the world), and with direct communication from the University to publishers informing them of the policy, it is possible that more publishers will realize that a license to publish – rather than complete copyright transfer – is all they require, and the need for the addendum will diminish over time. Even if the policy does not go forward, the use of an addendum like the one in the policy document, could be useful for authors’ retention of key rights.

8. Is the policy a threat to journals, especially of non-profit scholarly society journals?

Even with the rapidly growing number of open access policies and amount of publicly available scholarship (3), there is, as yet, no evidence that publishing revenues are declining or at risk (4). Further, the policy contains a key provision that protects journals and the peer review process: for those journals that do not already allow open access to articles within six months of publication, the policy assumes, and faculty may specifically request, a delay of up to six months after publication and before the university places any articles in a public repository. Immediate access continues to be through the published journal.

In some disciplines, freely accessible online archives have proven to be a supplement to journal readership, not a replacement for it. In physics, for example, where nearly 100% of new articles are freely available from birth in the arXiv.org open-access repository, subscription-based journals have continued to thrive. The American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics Publishing are unable to identify any subscriptions lost as a result of arXiv in the 14 years of its existence (4).

9. Does the policy, or open access to research results, threaten or diminish peer review?

No. Methods for access to peer-reviewed scholarship and the methods for performing peer-review are independent. The many high-prestige, high-impact peer-reviewed journals whose content is immediately open or made available in repositories and elsewhere after a delay prove this (5).

One confusion that arises is that “open access” is sometimes used to label a particular publishing business model of some open access journals. These journals — often represented by the Public Library of Science, BioMed Central, and Hindawi Press journals — are free to readers because up-front publication fees paid by grant funds, institutions, or authors allow public, free access and provide the revenue that publishers use to manage peer review and perform editorial work. However, many business models, including the traditional subscription model, can produce the revenue needed to organize and manage peer review and be compatible with immediate or delayed open access to research results.

10. Will this policy affect my ability to sell commercially valuable ideas?

No. Current UC policy clearly separates copyright in scholarly publications from other intellectual property issues such as patents and trademarks. You are encouraged to consult the UC Copyright Education web site for details (at http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/copyright/).

11. Will this policy disadvantage junior or untenured faculty who are under pressure to publish in certain journals regardless of the copyright policies of the journal publisher?

No. The policy’s opt-out provision allows UC authors to avoid the default transfer of an open access deposit right to the university if doing so would jeopardize their ability to publish with a journal. However, new highly prestigious journals and non-traditional publishing venues with liberal copyright policies are increasingly available (see a description at UC’s Office of Scholarly Communication’s web site http://osc.universityofcalifornia.edu/alternatives/submit_work.html). In addition, the Senate’s whitepaper Evaluation of Publications in Academic Personnel Processes addresses the need to evaluate the quality of research appearing in all venues when the quality of the venue can be established along with the quality of the research.

12. The policy talks about making work “permanently accessible.” Is that really possible?

The library, preservation, and publishing communities are establishing technologies and institutional arrangements that ensure permanent accessibility. The policy defines trusted, publicly accessible repositories as those which provide reliable, long-term access to managed digital resources; are internet-accessible at no fee for the reader; have explicit preservation and governance policies; and use data formats and technology management that conform to industry standards. Stakeholders are establishing these standards and practices and designing methods to audit them. Closer to home, the California Digital Library, which hosts the eScholarship Repository, has a digital preservation program which is among the leaders world-wide in establishing best practices for the stewardship of digital content.

13. I am in the habit of placing articles on my departmental/personal web site. Doesn’t that suffice?

While that practice may help gain exposure to your research, it has several potential weaknesses. First, without the explicit retention of the right, you may in fact be in violation of the agreement you signed with the publisher. Second, the indexing of well-known institutionally-supported sites is more reliable, ensuring that readers will find your material through Google and other search services (in fact the library and publishing community is working to increase discovery, interoperability, and usage measures for open access repositories). Third, a university-managed repository such as eScholarship has long term preservation commitments built into its mission and the resources of UC and the California Digital Library to meet those commitments.

14. I have heard about disciplinary repositories, such as the NIH’s PubMed Central and the Physics arXiv. How does the policy affect the potential for depositing my work in such places?

The policy in no way prevents you from using such services and, in principle, multiple copies of your work in multiple open access repositories will only further increase its impact. In fact, through UC’s eScholarship initiative UC is already in a leadership position with regard to repository management and interoperability, pursuing ways to minimize faculty effort (e.g. by depositing their scholarship only once) and maximize access to scholarly content (e.g. by seamlessly coordinating the indexing of multiple copies when they exist or by “harvesting” the metadata from multiple repositories to provide a scholarly-focused search service).

15. How will the process for depositing works, for opting-out of the policy, etc. work?

The University’s eScholarship repository already has a well-used “postprint” service that makes deposit by a faculty member or his or her delegate very straightforward. The repository is preparing to extend this capacity and service should the policy be approved. Additionally, the University’s Office of Scholarly Communication is poised to assist with the actions identified in the policy’s implementation section, including the development of opt-out notification mechanisms. A “consultation” and/or “permissions-based” opt-out would require additional discussion and planning to implement. Comments from the review will help reveal a logical and practical preference as well as the potential of varying practice/responsibility at each campus. Implementation would presumably draw upon existing UC experience and resources in this domain, including the Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Advisory Committee, the Office of the General Counsel, the Office of Scholarly Communication and Senate committees such as the Committee on the Library.

16. How can I be sure that placing my paper in a repository will actually make it more widely available?

Internationally agreed standards for repositories ensure that their contents are discoverable and interoperable. Descriptive information (aka metadata) can be collected into databases of worldwide research which users can then search. Search engines like Google are already harvesting this descriptive data, indexing it, and making it available. Additional work is focusing on the efficient discovery of primary research data which is increasingly deposited along with publications.

17. Is there any evidence that open access to research publications actually increases their impact?

Yes. The evidence is mounting that the “open access impact advantage” is real and measurable. Depending on the disciplines studied and the methods used, the advantage is estimated to be between 25% and 300% increase in citations (6).

18. Will the policy or the open access repositories protect me from plagiarism, or from someone altering my paper and using it in a way I disapprove of?

In general it is easier to detect simple plagiarism with electronic than with printed text by using search engines or other services to find identical texts. For more subtle forms of misuse, the difficulties of detection are no greater than with traditional journal articles. Indeed, metadata tagging, including new ways of tracking the provenance of electronic data and text, promise to make it easier.

19. How does the policy apply to papers with one or more co-authors outside of UC?

In legal terms and most cases co-authors have an “undivided interest” in the entire work; thus, a co-author can technically do anything with his/her work without the permission of the others (except, perhaps, granting an exclusive license), but has a duty to “account” to the others, i.e., share in any royalties. As a practical matter we would expect UC co-authors to check with and inform their co-authors of the policy and of any open access deposit of their work.

20. Are there other things I should be thinking about or discussing to better understand my own and UC’s options to contribute to the healthy evolution of scholarly communication?

We would suggest reading the Senate’s Special Committee on Scholarly Communication white papers and discussing the proposed principles and actions recommended there and at the Office of Scholarly Communication’s Reshaping Scholarly Communication web site.


Notes

(1) Made available through the Senate Source website, and currently available at http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/senate/news/source/copyright.policy.faqs.pdf)

(2) The “Romeo” database of journals, publishers and their copyright transfer policies is maintained by the Sherpa project at http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo.php.

(3) For open access policies, see the Registry of Open Access Repository Material Archiving Policies (ROARMAP – http://www.eprints.org/openaccess/policysignup/); for indications of the amount of open access scholarship see the Directory of Open Access Repositories (http://www.opendoar.org/) and the Directory of Open Access Journals (http://www.doaj.org/).

(4) Regarding economic impacts on journal publishing, see Swan, A. (2005) Open access self-archiving: An Introduction. Technical Report, JISC, HEFCE (http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/11006/), which concludes “the evidence there is to hand points to the likelihood that the peaceful — and perhaps mutually beneficial — co-existence of traditional journals and open access archives is entirely possible; in biological terms, mutualism, rather than parasitism or symbiosis, might best describe the relationship.”

(5) See the the Directory of Open Access Journals (http://www.doaj.org/) and press releases about their journals’ rising impact factors from the Public Library of Science (http://www.plos.org) and BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/)

(6) See The effect of open access and downloads (‘hits’) on citation impact: a bibliography of studies, available at http://opcit.eprints.org/oacitation-biblio.html.

 

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