Forthcoming OA Developments in France

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 21:49:28 +0100

Below is a synoptic translation of an important French press release
about forthcoming OA developments in France. I would add only that CNRS is
mistaken in its worry that CNRS researchers would resist a self-archiving
mandate: Multiple author surveys -- international and multisciplinary --
as well as repeated actual experience with implemented self-archiving
mandates -- have shown that there will be very high rates of compliance.

Second, legal issues are mooted if the mandate is an immediate *deposit*
mandate, but the author has the option to set access as either Open
Access or Closed Access: 94% of journals already endorse setting access
immediately to Open Access. For the remaining 6%, the HAL repository
software should implement the semi-automatic EMAIL EPRINT feature that
has already been implemented in the GNU Eprints and DSpace repository
software. That will tide over access during any embargo period (and
embargoes will fade away once everything is being systematically
self-archived and used).


    The STI 'Professional Days' 2006 (4th edition) conference on
    "Archives institutionnelles et archives ouvertes"
    took place in Nancy from 19 - 21 June.
    All the major French research organizations were represented: CNRS,
    INSERM, INRIA, INRA, INERIS, IRD, and ADEME are to sign a Joint Draft
    Agreement (already finalised), defining a coordinated approach, at
    the national level, for open-access self-archiving of French research
    output. Also to sign the agreement are the conference of university
    presidents (CPU), the conference of Grandes Ecoles (France's Elite
    Universities), and the Pasteur Institute.
    This marks an important advance in the implementation of a French
    national policy for open access institutional archives (OA/IA). There
    is also a protocol of agreement about metadata to enrich the articles
    and some assistance to depositers on legal matters.
    Elsewhere, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
    (OECD) has also recommended that making results open access
    in open archives should be made a condition of R&D funding, and so have
    NIH and FRPAA in the US and RCUK in the UK.
    In France there is first to be a 'statement' as a prelude to a
    'directive'. The difference is important. NIH and CERN have different
    deposit rates, reflecting the difference between a request and a
    NIH, with only a request, has a deposit rate of, 4%, whereas CERN, with
    a requirement, is approaching 100%. OA cannot achieve its objectives
    unless deposit rates approach 100%.
    A laisser-faire policy, only requesting self-archiving, generates a
    deposit rate of a few percent. Systematic activism from librarians and
    information professionals (informing, encouraging, helping with
    deposits) raises the rate to about 12%. Adding a 'carrot and stick'
    component (e.g., making the deposit rate one of the criteria in annual
    evaluation) might raise rates to 20% but not much more. By contrast,
    organizations that have a contractual obligation to deposit (such as
    CEMAGREF, since 1992, and INERIS) have deposit rates near 100%,
    fulfilling their contract to have open institutional archives which
    reflect the full research output of their organizations.
    The Joint Draft Agreement is being formulated at a time when France
    is considering many other questions about legal aspects, voluntary vs.
    obligatory deposit, and the purpose of knowledge repositories. For fear
    that restive researchers might resent the imposition of administrative
    rules, the question is mostly evaded (especially by the CNRS), but
    there is evidence of progress: at the Nancy conference, INSERM (National
    Institute of Health and Medical Research), announced that it plans to
    make self-archiving in its open-access archive compulsory within the
    next few years -- but this progress is far too slow.
    A sense of legal uncertainty is one of the factors holding back
    deposit rates. Paradoxically, it is information professionals (librarians
    and documentalists) -- not researchers or management -- who have been
    pressing for a clear legal framework on open access archiving from the
    directorate of the CNRS.
    There is a French call for proposals (drawing on a total source of
    only 1 million euros) for studies on the creation and support of new
    Open Access Journals. In contrast, in the UK, the JISC (Joint
    Information Systems Committee) is spending approximately 115 million
    euros, much of it devoted to studies on the creation and support of the
    infrastructure for open access archives in British universities and
    research institutions. According to some of the participants at the
    Nancy conference, France's new National Agency of Research (ANR) refers
    in its contracts to requirement (or is it a request') linking its
    research funding to the provision of 'Open Access' to the results.
    Groupement Français de l'Industrie de l'Information
    25 rue Claude Tillier 75012 Paris.
    France Tél : 33 1 43 72 96 52
    Fax : 33 1 43 72 56 04 Mél
    gfii AT
    Kiosque IST - INIST <>
Received on Mon Jun 26 2006 - 21:52:49 BST

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