Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Princeton to go "open access"

. . . almost. Details here. Encouraging first steps that I expect will soon take root at many other universities.

UPDATE: A question for readers who may know more about the above policy than I do. Does this mean that reprint, etc. fees that might have otherwise gone to a different copyright owner -- whether the publisher or author -- would now go to the university instead? If this were true, then what would seem a victory for Open Access would come at a (financial) cost to many authors.


Stevan Harnad said...


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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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

Thom Brooks said...

Steven - many thanks for this helpful comments. Indeed, Princeton is leading a wave of institutions - and there are several in the UK also - that have been making research 'open access'.

I wouldn't be able to comment specifically on these matters re: the Princeton case although it would be great if colleagues there could verify the situation.