Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Open Access submission to Canada's Digital Economy Consultation

On behalf of a group of Canadian and international open access advocates, I have just contributed a submission to Canada's Digital Economy Consultation. It may be a few days before this appears on the government web site. The text of the submission can be viewed here. Update June 19: the submission is now available on the Industry Canada site.

The brief Executive Summary as posted to the government website is as follows:

We recommend that Canada develop a policy requiring open access to federally funded Canadian scholarship, i.e. research funded by the research granting councils CIHR, SSHRC, NSERC, and NRC. This policy would ensure taxpayer access to taxpayer-funded research, maximum impact of taxpayer-funded research, bring Canadian policy into line with international policy developments, and appropriately secure a place for Canada as a leader in this important area of innovation.

The policy needed is for researchers funded by federal granting agencies to be required to deposit, in their institution’s open access repository, a copy of the author’s final manuscript of all published peer-reviewed articles arising from federally funded research, immediately on acceptance for publication, with access to the deposit set as open access immediately, or after a minimum delay to accommodate publishers. The locus of deposit should be an appropriate open access repository; by default, the author’s institutional repository. Cross-deposits from institutional to central repositories (such as PubMedCentral Canada, as mandated by CIHR) can then be done automatically by software.

In 2008, CIHR adopted a Policy on Access to Research Outputs, which is in many ways an exemplary policy, although there is a loophole to be addressed, as it allows for opt-out based on publisher copyright policies. This is neither justified nor necessary. While the contributions of professional publishers are very valuable, the published article reflects the contributions of many parties, including the Canadian taxpayer, the authors, their institutions, the voluntary peer reviewers, and often human subjects as well. No one contributor to the process should have exclusive rights to the final report; an open access requirement is reasonable and fair to all.

In addition, researchers should be encouraged to do the same with their research data (while ensuring that confidentiality / anonymity of research subjects is maintained), as well as with other works, such as monographs and creative works, wherever possible.

The simple no-cost step of requiring open access deposit would have tremendous impact in advancing the effectiveness and dissemination of Canadian research.

Update June 16: if you would like to add your (or your organization's) name, please let me know at hgmorris at sfu dot ca, and I will submit a revised version on July 9.