Re: Draft Policy for Self-Archiving University Research Output

From: Steve Hitchcock <>
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 03:39:17 +0000

I'm surprised by some issues that have emerged from this thread, such as
which 'institution' authors should, or might want to, affiliate with in
terms of presenting their work. This is hardly a moot point. Since we are
concerned with *institutional* self-archiving, this is a pretty critical
point, and in most cases it is not difficult.

So what is at issue is not the right of the author's institution to assert
copyright, but its right to present the work (including the postprint: the
corrigenda approach should be left to past works where copyright has been
assigned to an unhelpful publisher) in an archive. Or, to put it more
bluntly, the institution's right to compel self-archiving by authors in its

This is extreme, but the opposite of Stevan's too liberal approach which is
to allow authors to publish, first and foremost, where they wish. We need
to find an acceptable point on this spectrum, but if this is about
institutional archiving, let the institutions take some initiatives. I can
see self-archiving spreading far faster if some enlightened institutions
take the lead than if it is left to authors.

So in principle I support Sol Picciotto's idea, with provisos that have
been identified below. Certainly institutions must do more than Mark Doyle
wants, despite the good work APS is doing, which is for publishers to
'grant back to authors all of the rights they expect'. On this issue,
institutions must lead, not follow.

Steve Hitchcock
Open Citation (OpCit) Project <>
IAM Research Group, Department of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 3256 Fax: +44 (0)23 8059 2865

At 20:19 08/01/03 +0000, Stevan Harnad wrote:
> > Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2003 13:57:41 -0000
> > From: "Picciotto, Sol" <s.picciotto_at_LANCASTER.AC.UK>
> >
> >sp> It seems that copyright ownership could be an important obstacle to
> >sp> archiving postprints.
>It is only an obstacle if the author signs a copyright transfer agreement
>that gives up the right to self-archive the postprint. Our advice to
>authors is always to self-archive the preprint (which precedes submission,
>refereeing, revision, postprint, and copyright agreement) and if/when it
>is revised and accepted as the postprint, to change the wording of the
>copyright agreement to allow self-archiving of the postprint to. If/when
>the publisher insists, sign the restrictive agreement and archive only
>the corrigenda that list the substantive changes that need to be made
>to the preprint to turn make it equivalent to the postprint.
>In most cases, publishers will agree to the self-archiving of the
>postprint if asked. For the shrinking number of cases where they do not,
>the preprint+corrigenda will do for now.
>It would be a *great* strategic error (indeed, it would be absurd)
>to hold up the majority of the research literature, and to continue to
>lose its potential research impact because of access-barriers, until
>the postprint self-archiving right is officially incorporated into every
>publisher's copyright transfer form!
>For over 10 years now the physicists have had the good sense not to be
>held back by this: The rest of the research community should now show
>equally good sense. (See also the recent posting by Mark Doyle,
>of the American Physical Society (APS), the highest
>quality and highest impact publisher in Physics.
>APS now explicitly allows postprint self-archiving -- but the physicists
>did not wait for this announcement to do it!)
> >sp> I have proposed at Lancaster that academic staff employment contracts
> >sp> be modified to make it clear that the university asserts its rights as
> >sp> employer to copyright in staff research publications, but only to the
> >sp> extent of reserving the right to authorise non-commercial publication
> >sp> on the internet, e.g. in an eprints archive. This would circumvent
> >sp> a possible restriction resulting from any copyright assignment the
> >sp> author signs. The idea has been met favourably here, both by the AUT
> >sp> (professional association) and management, but both have referred it
> >sp> for discussion at national level.
>This is excellent and should certainly be done, but *in parallel* with
>universal self-archiving along the lines described above, and definitely
>not as a *precondition* for it.
>[ A similar institutional copyright retention initiative was launched by
>Provost Koonin of CalTech
> as discussed
>in this Forum 4 years ago:
>but CalTech has since become one of the leaders in research
>self-archiving: )
> >sp> I think the university should be willing to forego any claim to income
> >sp> from research publications, but should retain the right to authorise
> >sp> non-commercial publication. The decision on when to publish, which
> >sp> version, etc, should be left to the author(s), within a policy such
> >sp> as that suggested here for Southampton, which would greatly facilitate
> >sp> acceptance of eprints archiving as a standard practice.
>Claim to income from research publications? The author receives no income
>from papers published in refereed journals. But to put any of this
>on the self-archiving/open-access agenda at all (except in-parallel)
>is to invite still more delay when over a decade of potential research
>impact and usage have already been needlessly lost. For this introduces
>the gray area of books and of teaching materials (including textbooks):
>All worthy topics, but *irrelevant* to the clearcut, open-and-shut case
>of refereed research papers.
>Yes, let university copyright retention initiatives proceed apace, but let
>them not portray themselves or be perceived as necessary *preconditions*
>before authors can safely self-archive all their research output! They
>already can do it now -- and should, with no further delay.
> > Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2003 15:52:47 -0000
> > From: Fytton Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
> >
> >fr> Before you can have a "postprint" you must have published the paper
> >fr> somewhere. In many (most?) cases you will have transferred the copyright
> >fr> to the journal. So how can the University then assert its ownership of
> >fr> a copyright that you, the individual academic, have already given away
> >fr> in the belief that it was yours to give?
>See above. The idea of institutional copyright retention is to give
>authors more clout when they propose changes to the wording of their
>publisher's copyright transfer agreement, so as to allow self-archiving
>of the postprint. Two minor down-sides are:
> (1) If the publisher refuses, it puts universities in the position of
> dictating to their authors where they may and may not publish their
> refereed research. (Not a good idea, nor one likely to be welcomed
> by authors.)
> (2) It needlessly retains *more* than is necessary for self-archiving
> and open access (see Mark Doyle, below).
>But, more important than these, the major problem with waiting for
>changes in university copyright retention policies is:
> (3) It isn't *necessary* -- and propagating the misconception that
> it is necessary simply serves to further delay self-archiving and
> open-access.
> > Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2003 16:19:09 -0000
> > From: Tim Brody <>
> >
> >tb> If the author's employment contract states that their employer (the
> >tb> University) reserves non-commercial distribution rights then that author
> >tb> can not sign away those rights to a publisher (without the agreement of
> >tb> the University).
>Correct, and that would be a bad thing, because it would take away from
>the author the right to be the sole determiner of where his research is
>submitted for publication! (And it would do so needlessly.)
> >tb> In my opinion I would rather the IPR were held by the institution -
> >tb> who paid for the research, facilities & support - rather than with the
> >tb> publisher. If not for any other reason than an institution will rarely
> >tb> hold the same kind of monopoly as the big publishers.
>All irrelevant when the goal is open access: Self-archiving ensures
>that. And once the research is open-access, "monopolies" in the
>toll-access version are of no interest.
> > Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2003 16:55:34 -0000
> > From: "Picciotto, Sol" <s.picciotto_at_LANCASTER.AC.UK>
> >
> >sp> You as author can only transfer any rights you actually have. If the
> >sp> university as employer retains any rights to works which you produce
> >sp> in the course of your employment, which it is entitled to do, then you
> >sp> can only transfer the rights the university has agreed to allow you to
> >sp> retain. My proposal is that the employment contract should specify that
> >sp> the university retains the right to authorise non-commercial
> publication,
> >sp> but allows the author(s) to negotiate commercial publication rights. Any
> >sp> licence or assignment signed by the author could only validly transfer
> >sp> rights which the author actually owns, so the author could only grant
> >sp> non-exclusive rights to a publisher.
>This may be useful, though it does seem to conflate the refereed-research
>literature, which is always an author give-away -- regardless of whether
>the publisher is commercial or non-profit, toll-access or open-access --
>with other forms of literature, such as books, textbooks and teaching
>materials, possibly also software and multimedia. There is no need for
>the refereed-research literature to be mixed up with the rest of the
>literature at all. It is a special case. And it does not *require*
>copyright retention, by either the institution or the author; it
>requires only the online self-archiving right, which is uncontestably
>the author's for the unsubmitted preprint, and if ceded for the
>postprint, easily remediable through corrigenda.
>Holding out for anything else -- or more -- is simple delaying the
>optimal and inevitable, needlessly, and at a growing cost in research
>impact, usage, and, ultimately, productivity and progress.
> >sp> The only problem I foresee is if the publisher's contract has a clause
> >sp> requiring the author to warrant ownership of all the rights. This could
> >sp> be dealt with fairly easily by a standard form clause that all staff
> >sp> would be advised to send to publishers, pointing out that the university
> >sp> has reserved the right to authorise free publication via the internet or
> >sp> eprints archive, so rights acquired by the publisher are subject to
> this.
>This should certainly be done -- but universal self-archiving should not
>wait one microsecond for it to be done: It should proceed regardless.
>Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2003 13:56:09 -0500
>From: Mark Doyle <doyle_at_APS.ORG>
> >md> The APS takes copyright for a variety of reasons (it has been a good
> >md> thing lately for both scanning backfiles and for handling recent cases
> >md> of scientific fraud and plagiarism).
>Agreed. No harm in transferring copyright as long as the self-archiving
>right is retained.
> >md> The APS approach is to grant back to authors all of the rights they
> >md> expect (such as putting material in centralized or institutional e-print
> >md> archives, just not the APS formatted version).
>That's plenty. The postprint need not be the publisher's PDF, in this
>day and age. (In fact, it can be much better!)
> >md> The question is whether there could be a mechanism for the publisher
> >md> to also give these rights to the author's institution and even whether
> >md> there could be an arrangement that allows institutional archives to use
> >md> the publisher formatted version for their own archives (and how to
> ensure
> >md> the record stays complete and up-to-date regarding for example, errata,
> >md> retractions, corrections to online material, etc.). This last part is
> >md> one problem with authors "self-archiving" - they may not be inclined to
> >md> make sure that errata (or worse) get recorded properly.
>Errata/corrigenda are a matter of scholarliness and scientific rigor
>for refereed research researchers. But it's always nice to have others
>invigilating too. The referees were one, the publisher is another, and,
>in the open-access world, the entire peer community is yet another.
> >md> Another point worth making is that authors often have stronger
> >md> associations over their career with the publishers of the journals
> >md> they submit to than with their institutions. Authors might not be happy
> >md> relinquishing rights to their work if they change employers.
>Moot point, when the work is open-access. The author retains the
>authorship (the "moral right") in any case. His CV goes wherever
>he goes. There is no royalty for refereed research, just the indirect
>rewards of research impact, which is maximized by open access. So what
>are we talking about retaining or not retaining here?
>Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Jan 10 2003 - 03:39:17 GMT

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