Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Will Canada seize the lead in the open access movement in the history books - or cede to the U.S.?

Canada has many reasons to claim early leadership in the open access movement. After all, of the 16 people at the Budapest Open Access Initiative, widely regarded as the world's first major defining moment of the open access movement, no less than 3 were Canadian - Jean Claude Guédon, Leslie Chan, and Stevan Harnad, world leaders of the open access movement all. The Canadian Association of Research Libraries was an early leader in conceptualizing and implementing a country-wide institutional repository program. The free, open source software used by thousands of open access journals around the world, Open Journal Systems, was developed at the University of British Columbia by John Willinsky. The Canadian Library Association has a leading-edge Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries.

Of Canada's three major national academic research granting agencies, ALL at the very least strongly support open access. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has a Policy on Access to Research Outputs, expecting researchers to deposit results no later than 6 months from publication. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) adopted open access in principle in 2004, and has an Aid to Open Access Journals program. The National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) is expected to announce an open access policy this March.

Canada could easily become the first country in the world to implement strong open access policies for all federally funded research, and rightfully claim our place in history as the leader in an emerging area that will become an important part of the world's history. But now that Obama has been inaugurated, we'd better act fast - or cede our leadership in this area to the U.S.

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