Institutional Mandates Reinforce and Monitor Funder Mandates

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2008 04:48:04 +0000

            ** Cross-Posted **

    Yet Another Reason for Institutional OA Mandates:
    To Reinforce and Monitor Compliance With Funder OA Mandates

    Commentary on:
    Zoe Corbyn "Low compliance with open-access rule criticised"
    Times Higher Education Supplement 21 February 2008

A study of the compliance rate for the Wellcome Trust's Green Open
Access Self Archiving Mandate presented at the 2008 Boston AAAS
meeting reported a self-archiving rate of around 30% eight months
after the policy came into effect. This is considerably higher than
the NIH non-mandate's 4% rate (recently upgraded to a mandate), and it
is above the 5-15% spontaneous self-archiving rate, but it is not
clear whether it is as high as the compliance rate for institutional
mandates. If it is not, then this is yet another reason for mandating
institutional rather than central deposit, and deposit by the author
rather than by the author or publisher. That way the institutions can
add its own weight to the mandate, and can monitor compliance.

(1) The spontaneous baseline rate for unmandated OA self-archiving is
between 5% and 15%, depending on field. Anything above that is an

(2) Arthur Sale's analyses comparing deposit rates for mandated and
unmandated Institutional Repositories (IRs) show that (2a) unmandated
deposits hover between 5-15%, (2b) encouraged and incentivized
deposits climb toward 30% but not much higher, whereas (2c) mandated
deposits approach 80-100% within about two years of adoption of the

(3) Arthur's data are for author self-archiving, in the author's own
institutional repository (IR), mandated and monitored by the author's
own institution.

(4) The funder mandates have not been in place long enough for a good
estimate of their rate of success, but three things are already

(4a) A researcher's funder is not in as good a position to monitor and
enforce compliance with a self-archiving mandate as a researcher's
institution is: Institutions conduct annual reviews of publication
output and can easily determine whether or not articles are deposited
in their own IR. Funders do not conduct such annual publication audits
(though they could).

(4b) If the funder requires central deposit (as Wellcome does, in
PubMed Central) this means funders cannot rely on the researcher's
institution to monitor and enforce compliance with the terms of the
grant, insofar as author self-archiving is concerned.

(4c) With the funder's deposit requirement fulfillable in two
different ways -- through author self-archiving or through publisher
deposit -- it makes it even more difficult to coordinate, monitor and
verify compliance.

The solution is quite obvious: Funders should not be mandating deposit
in central repositories, such as PubMed Central. They should be
mandating deposit in the author's own Institution's Repository. And
the depositing should be done by the author, not the publisher. That
way the author's institution can systematically monitor and enforce
compliance, feeding back to the funder; and the central repository
need merely harvest the deposits from the distributed IRs, if it

It was absurd all along to insist on central self-archiving, in the
age of OAI-compliant, interoperable IRs, designed specifically in
order to facilitate central harvesting! It was also absurd to have
institutional and funder mandates pulling in different directions,
toward different repositories, instead of pooling resources and
collaborating, as funders and institutions do in all other respects.

Perhaps most relevant to Wellcome's apparently slow rate of compliance
are the exciting recent developments concerning the Sleeping Giant of
Open Access: the Institutions (Universities, mostly), and their actual
and future self-archiving mandates:

There are now 22 funder mandates (including, recently, NIH) and 16
institutional and departmental mandates (including, even more
recently, Harvard) plus the unanimous recommendation of the Council of
the European Universities Association that its 791 universities in 46
countries should adopt OA self-archiving mandates.

Institutions are the providers of all the research that funders fund
(and don't fund) in all disciplines. It makes no sense for funders to
mandate that the researchers they fund should deposit directly in
arbitrary central repositories. The way to mandate OA is for both
funders and institutions to mandate institutional deposit, and then
for institutions to monitor compliance (as part of the conditions for
receiving the funder's grant in the first place!).

In sum, Wellcome's mandate compliance may be coming along, it's too
early to say; but they need to get compliance and fulfillment
conditions in place, and the most efficient and practical way to do
that is to collaborate with their own fundees' institutions (who are
usually co-recipients of the Wellcome Grants anyway), to make sure
they monitor compliance; deposit should be by the author, in the
author's own institution's IR (PMC can then harvest from there).

This will create a systematic synergy between funder and institution
mandates, and ensure that they facilitate one another and converge (on
the IR) rather than diverging will-nilly in various CRs.

Stevan Harnad

If you have adopted or plan to adopt a policy of providing Open Access
to your own research article output, please describe your policy at:

    BOAI-1 ("Green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("Gold"): Publish your article in an open-access journal if/when
    a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
    in your own institutional repository.
Received on Thu Feb 21 2008 - 11:14:20 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:49:14 GMT