Optimizing MIT's Open Access Policy

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2006 15:30:32 +0000

MIT has proposed two OA policy steps: compliance with the NIH Public
Access Policy and seeking consensus on copyright retention:


In the interests of brevity, clarity, and comprehension, I will be
(uncharacteristically) brief (8 points):

    (1) The two steps taken by MIT are a very good thing, compared to
    taking no steps at all, but:

    (2) Step one, explicitly formalizing compliance with the current NIH
    Public Access Policy, is a retrograde step, as it helps entrench
    the flawed NIH policy in its present form (a request instead of a
    requirement, a 6-12-month delay instead of immediate deposit, and
    depositing in PubMed Central instead of in the author's own
    Institutional Repository).

    (3) Step two, seeking university-wide agreement on copyright
    retention, is not a necessary prerequisite for OA self-archiving, and
    there will be time-consuming resistance to it, from both publishers
    and authors. Hence it is the wrong thing to target first at
    this time. (University of California is making exactly the same mistake
    http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/57-guid.html ).

    (4) What MIT should be doing is neither formalizing compliance with
    the current NIH policy nor giving priority to copyright retention
    (even though copyright retention is highly desirable).

    (5) What MIT should be doing is *mandating* depositing, in MIT's IR,
    the final refereed drafts of all journal articles by MIT researchers,
    immediately upon acceptance for publication.

    (6) In addition, MIT should *encourage* (not mandate) setting access
    to each deposited full text as Open Access (OA) immediately upon
    deposit -- leaving the author the choice of instead setting access
    as Restricted Access (RA) (MIT-only, or author-only) and fulfilling
    email eprints requests generated by the OA metadata by emailing the
    eprint to the requester for the time being. (Ninety-three percent
    of journals already endorse immediate OA self-archiving, so RA need
    only be an option for 7%.)

    (7) Having adopted that policy as a mandate, MIT can *then* go
    on to its two proposed steps, of complying with the provisional
    NIH public access policy (by arranging for harvesting at the
    appointed date from the MIT archive into PubMed Central)
    and seeking an MIT consensus on copyright retention.

    (8) Instead going straight to (7) without first adopting and
    implementing (5) and (6) is a huge (and unnecessary) strategic
    mistake, and a bad model for other institutions to follow.


Posted by Peter Suber in Open Access News

    Two steps to support OA at MIT

    At its March 15 faculty meeting, the MIT faculty discussed two
    OA-related topics: complying with the NIH public access policy and
    using an MIT amendment to modify standard publishing contracts and
    let authors retain key rights. Details in today's report from the MIT
    News Office: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2006/facmtg-post-mar15.html

    Concerned that taxpayer-funded research is not accessible to the
    general public because of the tightly controlled, proprietary system
    enforced by some journal publishers, the National Institutes of Health
    (NIH) is asking every NIH-funded scientist who publishes results in
    a peer-reviewed journal to deposit a digital copy of the article in
    PubMed Central (PMC), the online digital library maintained by the
    NIH. Not later than 12 months after the journal article appears,
    PMC will then provide free online access to the public.

    Director of Libraries Anne J. Wolpert and Vice President for
    Research Alice Gast discussed with the faculty MIT's response to
    this issue, which has been to support NIH researchers in complying
    with the policy, and also to enable any MIT researcher to use a
    more author-friendly copyright agreement when submitting articles
    for publication. "The overwhelming majority of work produced by you
    is licensed back to you, and you can't always use your own work in
    the way you want to use it," Wolpert told the faculty. Copyright
    exemptions that were carefully crafted to allow the academy to teach
    and do research are steadily being superseded by intellectual property
    regimes that were developed for the benefit of the entertainment
    industry. "What Disney wants, the academy gets, whether it suits
    your interests or not," Wolpert said.

    Among the reasons for universities to support open access is the
    high cost associated with renting access to journals, which for MIT
    alone has grown in the past decade from $2.6 million to more than $6
million a year....

    An amendment that can be attached to any publication's copyright
    agreement was disseminated to principal investigators in February. "We
    have to wait and see how this plays out and see what feedback
    we get from publishers," Gast said. The goal is for MIT as an
    institution to work out agreements with publishers rather than make
    individual researchers fight their own battles. More information,
    as well as the amendment, which would override the publisher's
    copyright agreement, is available online and other MIT web sites.

    "There is a distinct feeling among our counterparts at large private
    and public institutions that if MIT takes a reasonable and principled
    position on this issue, other institutions will be encouraged to do
    likewise," Wolpert said.

    PETER SUBER: The MIT contract amendment
    is closely related to the SPARC Author's Addendum
    http://www.arl.org/sparc/author/addendum.html drafted for the same
    purpose. The MIT amendment gives authors (among other things) the
    non-exclusive right to copy and distribute their own article, to
    make derivative works from it, and to deposit the final published
    version in an OA repository. MIT is the first university I know to
    present its faculty with a lawyer-drafted contract amendment for the
    purpose of retaining the rights needed to provide OA to their own
    work. Kudos to all involved. MIT faculty could change the default
    for faculty with less bargaining power.
    Posted in OA News by Peter Suber at 3/21/2006 10:41:00 PM.
Received on Wed Mar 22 2006 - 15:41:18 GMT

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