The British Columbia Library Association congratulates the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on the newly announced Open Access to Research Outputs policy. Here is an excerpt from the letter from BCLA President Deb Thomas to CIHR President Alan Bernstein, September 10, 2007, which can be downloaded from http://www.bcla.bc.ca/memfiles/10147394
As you yourself note in the press release, results of this policy will accelerate the understanding of human health and disease, and leverage the Canadian health research dollar.
This will also mean expanded access to health research across the country, and around the globe. Physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals outside the major centres will have access to this literature, increasing their ability to provide evidence-based care. Smaller colleges will be better equipped to train new nurses. These are just a couple of examples of the benefits that will accrue from this wonderful policy.
This policy will, in many respects, be seen as a model for other funding agencies. One major strength, as stated in the policy, is that “Grant recipients are now required to make every effort to ensure that their peer-reviewed publications are freely accessible through the Publisher's website (Option #1) or an online repository as soon as possible and in any event within six months of publication (Option #2).
Option # 1 combined with clarification that article processing fees for open access are eligible as expenses under the Use of Grant Funds, is an exceptionally strong statement of support for this model from a public funding agency. This enables researchers to move quickly and easily into the optimum dissemination mode, full, immediate open access.
Option # 2, self-archiving for free access within 6 months of publication, illustrates flexibility and will assist researchers in fields with publishers less ready or willing to move forward with transitioning to open access. Language is this section is more than generous to the publishing community.
Another area of leadership is the statement that the policy will be reviewed on an annual basis. This is wise, as changes in scholarly communications are very much evolving, and the statement of expectation of annual review demonstrates a commitment to ongoing change. This is important, as it supports ongoing change in scholarly communications.
Heather's comments: I am proud to be a member of the British Columbia Library Association, and of the Information Policy Committee whose mission includes open access! Kudos and thanks to my colleagues for their support for open access. This letter encapsulates what I see as the key strengths of the CIHR policy: very strong support for open access, particularly full open access publishing which is the preferred option and can, if desired, be supported economically by researchers through use of grant funds; flexibility and a commitment to review at this time of transition.