Monday, May 08, 2006

Canadian Institutes of Health Research OA Policy: Comments Due May 15, 2006

Canadian Institutes of Health Research / Instituts de Recherche et Santé du Canada : is seeking input via survey to their Draft Policy in Development Access to Products of Research. Comments are due by May 15, 2006. Following are the survey questions, and my suggested responses. Thanks to Andrew Waller of University of Calgary for reviewing and commenting on these suggestions. Suggested responses are in bold.

Survey Questions

1) Please identify your affiliation

Journal and journal editors
Scientific society
Libraries and library associations
Other (please specify)

If you selected other, please specify:

CIHR Policy in Development - Consultation on Access to Products of Research

2) Are there any specific research resources, tools, and products that you think should be included in this policy (e.g. software or protocols)?

OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative / Protocol for Metadata Harvesting)

3) How can we ensure that a policy increasing access to the physical products of research does not negatively impact the intellectual property (IP) rights of inventors, and the commercialization of IP?

There are two separate points here.

First - does it make sense for taxpayers to fund research for the economic benefits of a few? My suggestion: taxpayer-funded research belongs in the public domain.

Second - if some situations (such as co-funded studies) are considered consonant with IP of inventors and the commercialization of IP, it is still completely reasonable to require that any published peer-reviewed research article, be published as open access. Protecting trade secrets means either not publishing at all, or publishing as a patent rather than as a research article.

4) When is it appropriate for researchers to put restrictions on products of research?

Restrictions on products of research should be limited to protection of individual privacy rights.

5) Can you suggest appropriate restrictions that will minimize harms (or maximize benefits) to further research?

This question is backwards! It is restrictions that cause harms, and open access that maximizes benefits.

6) Is there a specific type of data (not mentioned above) that should be covered with this policy statement?

7) Would you support a policy statement that involved sharing research data obtained with the help of CIHR funding? Please elaborate on your answer in the comments section.

Yes No


8) If you answered No to question number 7, please explain

9) Do you think this policy should cover products other than peer-reviewed publications, such as book chapters, editorials, reviews, or conference proceedings?

Yes No


Additional comments:

Any publications produced as a result of taxpayer funding, should be openly accessible.

10) Do you support self-archiving of peer-reviewed research publications in an Institutional Repository (IR) at a Canadian university?

Note that not all universities in Canada currently have an IR.



Additional comments:

There are other options for researchers who do not yet have an IR.

All CIHR-funded researchers can deposit in PubMedCentral for now, and copy articles to an IR as soon as one is available.

There are good reasons why depositing in more than one archive is optimal - for purposes of preservation, and enhanced impact. Canadians should deposit their in PubMedCentral to ensure that their work is retrieved by anyone who uses this resource exclusively. Copying to a Canadian repository is also advisable, for additional discovery as well as preservation purposes. Canadian works should be deposited in at least one Canadian repository, as soon as practical, to ensure ongoing access for Canadians.

There are open repositories, for example at the University of Tampere in Finland.

There are other disciplinary repositories that may be useful for some researchers, such as arXiv or E-LIS.

11) Would you prefer self-archiving of research publications using your personal website?

Note that personal websites are not interoperable. An advantage of IRs is that they use interoperability standards, such as those of the Open Archives Initiative.



Additional comments:

Education is needed here. There are advantages to IRs in terms of preservation as well as interoperability; also, this is not an either-or situation. Authors can post to their personal websites, too. Open access archives, whether institutional or disciplinary in nature, can provide authors with a single, clickable link to all of their works, one that is automatically updated with each new work. This mean if someone has copied a link to their works, anytime the link is accessed, new works will appear along with the old.

12) Would you endorse archiving of peer-reviewed results in the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central?

Yes, absolutely. This is the best option for preservation and searchability.

Or, would you prefer that Canadian peer-reviewed results be archived in a Canadian repository, such as a national repository of the kind which the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI) is positioned to develop for the National Research Council. (See the CISTI Strategic Plan for 2005-2010,

Yes, this too. But let's not wait - let's deposit in PMC right away, then copy to a Canadian repository as soon as one is available.

13) If you are a journal editor, or representative of a professional scientific society, what are potential positive or negative impacts that you see with the implementation of a policy requiring CIHR funded researchers to follow one of the aforementioned mechanisms?

For Canadian researchers - those who are served by local journals and professional scientific societies - the benefits of enhanced impact from open access should make open access an imperative. No Canadian journal can provide the kind of access to anyone, anywhere that open access can; the academic publishing market is simply too competitive internationally. Compare, for example, the difference in access between an article in a journal purchased by Canada's research libraries and a few international research libraries, with an article that is immediately openly accessible to anyone, anywhere. If Canadians want to make an impact on the world, we need to make our work available.

14) While considering IP rights and the commercialization of IP, what should be the minimum time required for release of these forms of data into the public domain?

Three months
Six months
Other (please specify)

Immediately. Publicly funded research should be readily available to all without delay.

As a second option, some of the major policy initatives (Wellcome Trust, Federal Research Public Access Act in the U.S.) are allowing a maximum 6 month delay. If you would like to suggest this option, please note that the policy should state immediate open access as the preferred option.

If you selected other, please specify:

15) If CIHR were to mandate self-archiving of peer-reviewed publications, how long after publication should this occur?

Three months
Six months
Other (please specify)

Immediately - see above.

If you selected other, please specify:

16) Can you think of any responsibilities or obligations for those requesting CIHR materials? (e.g. acknowledgements)

Authors should retain moral rights such as attribution. This can be clarified using a creative commons Attribution license.

17) How do you see co-funding influencing access to physical products of research?

Co-funding does complicate matters. However, I would suggest that any public funding should come with some obligations for open public access - the more the public funding, the greater the obligation. For example, a 100% publicly funded study might be required to be immediately open access. A 50% publicly funded study might be made available after a 6-month delay, and so forth.

18) Please comment on any experiences with other organizations, both nationally and internationally, regarding sharing or access to resources, data, and publications? Do you have suggestions or comments that CIHR should consider during policy development?

Based on the experiences of the U.S. National Institute of Health, it is clear that the policy must require, not recommend, deposit of research results for open access. The timeline must be very clear as well.

19) Other comments or suggestions:

Two excellent models for policy:

The U.S. Cornyn-Lieberman Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 Bill. Information can be found at:

The Wellcome Trust Position Statement in Support of Open and Unrestricted Access to Published Research

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

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