This is my second report from the Berlin 9 Open Access Conference, this one summarizing Tuesday’s session on Open Access Policy. I’m still catching up on yesterday’s talks and will post those later today or early tomorrow.

The session was moderated by Alma Swan of Enabling Open Scholarship, also director of Key Perspectives Ltd. Alma introduced the panelists:

  • Bernard Rentier, Rector, Université de Liege
  • Stuart Shieber, Director, Office for Scholarly Communication, Harvard University
  • William Nixon, Digital Library Development Manager, University of Glasgow
  • Jeffrey Vitter, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, University of Kansas

After this, Alma laid out some of the key issues on which the presenters would focus in their talks, namely the precise wording of the institutional open access policy that they have put into place, the people involved in planning and implementing it, the nature of the implementation and finally the resources for ongoing support (as she pointed out, if there is no ongoing support, open acces does not work). Alma then proposed an elaborate typology of policies based on multiple factors, i.e. who retains rights, whether or not there is a waiver, when deposit takes place and whether or not there is an embargo on the full text or the article meta-data. I’m hoping to be able to include Alma’s slides here later; there is a very nice table in it that describes these points.

Bernard Rentier from the Université de Liege in Belgium was the first presenter and gave a very engaging talk. He started with the analogy that a university that doesn’t know what it is publishing is like a factory that doesn’t know what it’s producing. The initial motivation at Liege was to create an inventory of what was being published there. Scholars wanted to be able to extract lists of their publications easily and be more visible to search engines. Bernard went on to describe what he called the Liege approach of carrot and stick and summarized this by saying “If you don’t have a mandate, nothing happens. If you have a mandate and don’t enforce it, nothing happens.” Having a mandate to deposit articles, the enforcement of this mandate, the quality of service provided and the incentives and sanctions in place are all vital. Bernard then described ORBi, the university’s repository. ORBi has 68.000 records and 41.000 full texts (50%), all uploaded by the researchers themselves. Most of the papers which are not available in full text were published before 2002. Papers which have a record in the repository are cited twice as often as papers by Liege authors that do not have a record, something that Bernard attributed to their strongly improved findability. Not all full texts in ORBi are Open Access — roughly half of the texts are embargoed, waiting to be made available after the embargo has been raised. Bernard explained that 20% of what is published in ORBi constitutes what is often called grey literature (reports, unpublished manuscripts) which was now much more visible than before. He noted that ORBi had been marketed as being “not just another tool for librarians”, but rather that his goal had been to involve the entire faculty, something that was also furthered by making the report produced by ORBi the sole document relevant in all performance reports (e.g. for promotions, tenure). ORBi is linked to Liege’s digital university phone book, tying it to general identity information that people might search for. It is also mentioned aggresively on the university website rather than being hidden away on the pages of the library. Bernard closed by saying that today ORBi was attracting an impressive 1100 article downloads per day and that plans were underway to use the system at the Unversity of Luxembourg, the Czech Academy of Sciences and other institutions.

Stuart Shieber followed with a talk on the development of the Hardvard Open Access mandate, introduced in 2008. Since its original introduction, a total of eight Harvard schools have joined the agreement, which generally mandates use of the institutional repository for publications (there is a waiver). Stuart described that first preparations began in 2006 and that there was much discussion in the academic senate. The FAS faculty voted in February 2008 and unanimously accepted the new policy. Its structure was outlined by Stuart as follows:

  • permission (1): author grants the university rights
  • waiver (2): if you want a waiver, you get a waiver
  • deposit (3): mandate of deposit on publication, also everything is deposited including material under embargo

This creates a structure where authors retain a maximum of control over their publications, yet generally deposit what they publish in the university’s repository. Stuart closed by saying (in reference to Bernard) “We’re no trying to apply a stick, we’re trying to apply a carrot” (e.g. statistics for authors on their article use and other incentives).

Next up was William Nixon for the University of Glasgow who presented their repository, Enlighten, William started by saying that he wasn’t wild about the terms “mandate” and “repository”, but that they had sought to communicate the usefulness of Englighten to authors, winning them over rather than forcing them to use the service. He described the wide integration of Enlighten with other services and cited a statistic showing that 80% of traffic to the repository comes from Google. William then gave a historic account of their approach. After launching Enlighten in 2006 and “strongly encouraging” its use by authors, virtually nothing happenend. In 2007 a student thesis mandate was introduced, making it a requirement for all theses to be deposited. In 2008, all publications “where copyright permits” by the faculty were included. In 2010, the report generated by Enlighten was made a key element of the overall research assessment, an important step mirroring the strategy used in Liege. William also discussed staff concerns: What content must be provided? Am I breaking copyright law by using the repository? How and by whom will the publication be seen and accessed online? What version (repository vs. publisher) of my publication will be cited? Wiliam closed by giving a brief account of the repository’s performance record: 14.000 new records had been added in 2010 alone, a rapid growth.

The University of Kansas’ provost and vice chancellor, Jeffrey Vitter, gave a historical account how how KU Scholarworks, the university’s repository had been gradually developed and introduced and pointed to the importance of the advocacy of organizations such as ARL, who had promoted the idea behind IRs and Open Access for many years, making it easier to popularize the idea among the faculty. I apologize for not having an in-depth account of Jeffrey’s talk, but at this point jet lag caught up with me. If you have any notes to contribute for this or any other part of the session, please share.

In the Q&A that followed the presentations what stuck with me was Bernard Rentier’s response to the question of an Elsevier representative about whether collaboration with publishers was not paramount for the success of an open access policy. Bernard emphatically described the difficulties he had experienced in the past when negotiating with major publishers and made clear that while he was open to collaboration a sign of trust would be in order first.