Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Open Access Policy: let's put the public good first!

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Access to Research Outputs Policy is exemplary in its strong support for immediate open access, whether through OA publishing or self-archiving. This is not the clear mandate that we would like to see, but it is a important step forward, and an important contribution to the debate.

One weakness of this, and other OA policies both existing and in development, from my point of view, is the acceptance of embargo (delay) periods to accomodate for-profit publishers.

Since when does public policy put profits first - in this case, before the advances in research that can improve our health, the rights of taxpayers to maximum benefit from their investment?

Do we shy away from public policies requiring building developers to make buildings accessible to the disabled, earthquake-proof, or asbestos-free, out of fear of diminishing the profits of developers?

Another strength of the CIHR policy is the call for annual review. Let us hope that OA activist Dr. Jim Till continues in his role as Chair. Already, here is my suggestion for the first review: brook no delay - require immediate OA!

For more commentary and links, please see my blogpost Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Policy on Access to Research Outputs