April 25, 2014

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Open Access to Scholarly Publications at Princeton

In its September 2011 meeting, the Faculty of Princeton University voted unanimously for a policy of open access to scholarly publications:

“The members of the Faculty of Princeton University strive to make their publications openly accessible to the public. To that end, each Faculty member hereby grants to The Trustees of Princeton University a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all copyrights in his or her scholarly articles published in any medium, whether now known or later invented, provided the articles are not sold by the University for a profit, and to authorize others to do the same. This grant applies to all scholarly articles that any person authors or co-authors while appointed as a member of the Faculty, except for any such articles authored or co-authored before the adoption of this policy or subject to a conflicting agreement formed before the adoption of this policy. Upon the express direction of a Faculty member, the Provost or the Provost’s designate will waive or suspend application of this license for a particular article authored or co-authored by that Faculty member.

“The University hereby authorizes each member of the faculty to exercise any and all copyrights in his or her scholarly articles that are subject to the terms and conditions of the grant set forth above. This authorization is irrevocable, non-assignable, and may be amended by written agreement in the interest of further protecting and promoting the spirit of open access.”

Basically, this means that when professors publish their academic work in the form of articles in journals or conferences, they should not sign a publication contract that prevents the authors from also putting a copy of their paper on their own web page or in their university’s public-access repository.

Most publishers in Computer Science (ACM, IEEE, Springer, Cambridge, Usenix, etc.) already have standard contracts that are compatible with open access. Open access doesn’t prevent these publishers from having a pay wall, it allows other means of finding the same information. Many publishers in the natural sciences and the social sciences also have policies compatible with open access.

But some publishers in the sciences, in engineering, and in the humanities have more restrictive policies. Action like this by Princeton’s faculty (and by the faculties at more than a dozen other universities in 2009-10) will help push those publishers into the 21st century.

The complete report of the Committee on Open Access is available here.

Comments

  1. rcannon100 says:

    The influence of scholarly work on public policy is highly constrained when the works themselves are difficult to access or inaccessible.

    Now, gotta tie those open works to notice schemes like RSS or blogs or the such announcing when new works are released.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Springer might allow open access in Computer Science but they publish in many other disciplines and here’s the language from the form that you are required to sign in order to publish with them:

    >>The copyright transfer covers the sole right to print, publish, distribute and sell >>throughout the world the said
    >>Contribution and parts thereof, including all revisions or versions and future editions, >>in all forms and media of expression – such as in its electronic form (offline, online). . .

    It’s nice that the Princeton scholars signed something promoting open access, but most of their research is published in places that require them to assign their copyright to the publisher.

  3. golden says:

    In my old field, high-energy physics, virtually all papers are released as preprints on arxiv.org before they’re even submitted to the publisher. The publishers have no market power to stop this, as the release on arXiv is in many ways more important than the publication in a journal. Of course, the journal still has a role in running the peer review process (which arXiv does not do).

    I have long wondered why more fields don’t have arXiv. (I see that Computer Science does, though I don’t know how much it is used.)

  4. Stevan Harnad says:

    1. First, congratulations to Princeton University (my graduate alma mater!) for adopting an open access mandate: a copyright-reservation policy, adopted by unanimous faculty vote.

    2. Princeton is following in the footsteps of Harvard in adopting the copyright-reservation policy pioneered by Stuart Shieber and Peter Suber.

    3. I hope that Princeton will now also follow in the footsteps of Harvard by adding an immediate-deposit requirement with no waiver option to its copyright-reservation mandate, as Harvard has done.

    4. The Princeton copyright-reservation policy, like the Harvard copyright-reservation policy, can be waived if the author wishes: This is to allow authors to retain the freedom to choose where to publish, even if the journal does not agree to the copyright-reservation.

    5. Adding an immediate-deposit clause, with no opt-out waiver option, retains all the properties and benefits of the copyright-reservation policy while ensuring that all articles are nevertheless deposited in the institutional repository upon publication, with no exceptions: Access to the deposited article can be embargoed, but deposit itself cannot; access is a copyright matter, deposit is not.

    6. Depositing all articles upon publication, without exception, is crucial to reaching 100% open access with certainty, and as soon as possible; hence it is the right example to set for the many other universities worldwide that are now contemplating emulating Harvard and Princeton by adopting open access policies of their own; copyright reservation alone, with opt-out, is not.

    7. The reason it is imperative that the deposit clause must be immediate and without a waiver option is that, without that, both when and whether articles are deposited at all is indeterminate: With the added deposit requirement the policy is a mandate; without it, it is just a gentleman/scholar’s agreement.

    [Footnote: Princeton's open access policy is also unusual in having been adopted before Princeton has created an open access repository for its authors to deposit in: It might be a good idea to create the repository as soon as possible so Princeton authors can get into the habit of practising what they pledge from the outset...]

    Stevan Harnad
    EnablingOpenScholarship