open access – federal policies

The federal “open access” policy rollouts continue. The Department of Defense put their proposal out a couple of days ago; they will develop their own system (a la PubMed):

DoD’s repository, the Defense Technical Information Center or DTIC will create and maintain a system for the long-term preservation and access to the DoD funded peer-reviewed journal literature as well as a “catalog or locator” that identifies the location of DoD funded publicly accessible data sets. DOD’s plan calls for a 12 month embargo for journal literature during which DTIC will link out to the articles on a publisher’s website.

I’ve been asked if institutions still need OA policies, now that funders are increasingly requiring open access.  The short answer is YES, and the short reasons are these:

  • The federal policies cover federally-funded research, and other funder-policies only cover their funded research.  Many research publications are not covered under funder policies, because they were not sponsored by those organizations.
  • Funder mandates often include embargoes; these standard-length embargoes block access to the work for 6 to 24 months, on average, but without any accounting of the individual needs of that author or that work.
  • Campus IR policies are campus-focused: They allow the campus to demonstrate its own commitments to serving its communities,  the public interest — to fulfill its mission, in other words, and brand its research at the same time.
  • Campus IR policies are locally controlled, which means that they can be responsive to faculty needs — shorter embargoes, longer embargoes; ready access to campus media for publicizing research; ready availability to fix titles, update links, and maintain the work; a focus on developing tools to use the work to support the campus faculty, such as download counts and other impact metrics.
  • As requirements proliferate — what if work was funded by TWO federal grants? and a state grant? — campus institutional repositories can work with other campus entities to ensure compliance AND reduced workload for faculty.

This is a brief review of the issue.  Our staff in the UMass Scholarly Communication Office are always happy to chat with faculty and staff about policy questions.

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