28 September 2011

New approach to mandating open access


A world-renowned University introduces a new development on the path towards open access, and aims to put pressure on publishers.

Princeton University has introduced a new policy that requires their researchers to retain some rights in their scholarly outputs, rather than assigning all copyright to journal publishers. The aim is to widen access to the University’s research outputs. Under the new policy, Faculty must grant the University a licence to use their publications for non-commercial purposes, including posting online. In order for them to grant this licence, authors would need to ensure there is provision for this in their copyright agreement.

See further comment in The Conversation report , headlined ‘Princeton bans academics from handing all copyright to journal publishers.’

Unlike most institutional mandates on open access, Princeton do not require their academics to post their articles to a University repository – in fact they do not currently have one. Instead they see this as a voluntary but logical extension of their policy, allowing academics to choose where they put their work as appropriate to their discipline.

With the weight of this University’s policy in place, it will be interesting to see if large publishers will bend their policies to fit. There is provision in the policy to obtain a waiver so in practice many copyright transfers will continue as before. However, this kind of mandate plants the idea that open access should be the norm, rather than at the will of publishers.

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