Monday, June 30, 2008

NSERC Open Access Policy in Development: update

More on the open access policy in development at Canada's National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC); a presentation by NSERC's Denis Leclerc's to the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) AGM, May 15, 2008, on the NSERC Open Access policy in development is available at: (thanks to Kathleen Shearer).

OA is seen as a global trend. Governments, universities, and research funding agencies have developed or committed to open access policies. Publishers are adjusting, by experimenting with OA publishing and permitting author self-archiving. The status quo is not an option; there are profound negative consequences to not having an open access policy. The plan is to present an OA policy to NSERC by March 2009. Overall, the policy is likely to be similar to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) policy, with some important innovations under consideration. One very innovative idea under consideration is the possibility of negotiating consortial arrangements with publishers to cover article processing fees, possibly working cooperatively with libraries. This is a gem of an idea. Bringing the library subscription purchase together with article processing fees is the best possible way to avoid double dipping (publishers receiving revenue for both subscriptions and article processing fees) in the short term, and for facilitating full-scale transition to open access in the longer term. Also noteworthy is that NSERC is contemplating investment in infrastructure, to support local publishing and repository development, and that the need for enforcement of an OA policy is being addressed early on.


Negative consequences to NSERC of not having an OA policy - from Denis Leclerc's presentation:
- NSERC-funded researchers are in a policy vacuum as to their own responsibilities when engaging in multi-funder collaborations (collaborators may be subject to OA).
- Possible risks: where original/raw data is not openly available for scrutiny, scientific misconduct may be facilitated.
- NSERC may be vulnerable to criticism regarding accountability to taxpayers.
- Missed opportunity to further demonstrate societal impact and relevance, as well as potential additional means to measure and monitor scientific output from funded research.
- Missed opportunity with respect to the 5th goal of NSERC`s Strategic Plan - To increase the visibility of Canadian NSE research in Canada and worldwide.
Conclusion: the Status Quo is not an option

Options being explored range from policy to institutional repository development. Particularly noteworthy is the idea of negotiating consortial deals with publishers, perhaps working cooperatively with university libraries to cover author OA charges, funding for infrastructure development, including support for local publishing, and enforcing / monitoring adherence to policy.

This post is part of the Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement series.