Sunday, April 06, 2008

European Universities Association (EUA) urges universities to develop clear strategies to advance open access

The open access recommendations developed by the EUA Working Group on Open Access and endorsed by EUA Council in their spring meeting this year at the University of Barcelona, have now been published in the European Universities Association Newsletter, March 4, 2008. Kudos especially to Lesley Wilson, Secretary General of the EUA, and Sijbolt Noorda, chair of the Working Group on Open Access. Thanks to Peter Suber on Open Access News.

The basic approach is one of setting up institutional repositories or sharing of repositories, at every university.

The basic policy: "University institutional policies should require that their researchers deposit (self archive) their scientific publications in their institutional repository upon acceptance for publication. Permissible embargoes should apply only to the date of open access provision and not the date of deposit".

Comment: this is an excellent model for a policy. The only missing element, from my perspective, is the setting of a maximum embargo period. My suggestion is a maximum 6 months' embargo period, similar to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research policy, with a plan for review in the future with a view to decreasing the embargo period. The purpose of the embargo period is to provide publishers with a window of opportunity to adjust to an open access environment.

As a strong supporter of a fully open access scholarly communications system, including full open access publishing, and of disciplinary open access archives such as PubMedCentral, arXiv, RePEC, and E-LIS, it is my opinion that this green or self-archiving requirement policy is the optimum approach for open access policy. An article published in an open access journal can be deposited in a university repository. An article deposited in an institutional repository can also be deposited in a disciplinary repository. If the key journal for a particular faculty is not yet open access, the faculty member has the flexibility needed to publish in their preferred venue, while still meeting the requirements of their university.

Two key elements of this policy to point out: open access is required, not requested. Experience has shown that merely requesting open access simply does not work. Researchers are required to deposit immediately, while open access can be delayed or embargoed if necessary. This is a needed direction for the busy researcher; immediate deposit can be easily worked into one's workflow, keeping the time and attention busy researchers need to devote to fulfilling this requirement to the minimum necessary.

The EUA clearly plans to continue a leadership role in making results of research produced at European Universities open access, both in terms of policy and vision, and in exploring practical means of support such as finding ways to help authors pay article processing fees.

Thanks for the alert to Bernard Rentier, the blogging Rector of the Université de Liège, via Stevan Harnad on the American Scientist Open Access Forum.