Campus Open Access Resolutions

On Tue, 5 Oct 2010, [identity deleted] wrote:
Hi Stevan,
We are happy to inform you that [university identity deleted] senate passed a campus open access resolution…

[Here] is the text of our open access resolution. We are not sure if we should register it to ROARMAP since it is not a policy or a mandate. Do you have any guidance for us?

Thanks, [Identity deleted]


Congratulations to your university for taking a stance on OA, but I’m afraid there is nothing yet to register in ROARMAP on the basis of this kind of resolution (encouraging OA), for the following reasons:

(1) Ten years of evidence on which kinds of policies succeed and which fail have shown that encouraging deposit simply does not work. Baseline deposit rates remain about 15% of university research output, even with encouragement, recommendations, invitations, and requests.

(2) If the encouragement is accompanied by relentless activism, contacts, incentives and assistance from library staff, the deposit rate can be raised somewhat higher (c. 30%).

(3) But only a deposit requirement (mandate) can raise the deposit rate to 60%, from which it approaches 100% within a few years (especially quickly if deposit is officially designated as the sole procedure for submitting publications for performance assessment). Neither encouragement nor activism will accomplish deposit rates of that order, no matter how long the policy remains in place.

So I am afraid that your university is now destined to have to discover for itself — by losing several more years of research uptake and impact while other institutions (over 100 now) adopt a deposit mandate — that encouragement alone simply does not work.

I also think it is a mistake to foreground the recommendation to publish in open access journals (“Gold OA”): Unlike “Green OA” — i.e. depositing (in the institutional repository) articles that have been published in subscription journals (which still constitute about 90% of journals today, and still include virtually all the top journals) — publishing in Gold OA journals cannot be required; it can only be encouraged. So as a means of providing OA to all the university’s annual research output, publishing in Gold OA journals should clearly be portrayed as merely a supplement to a deposit mandate. Your faculty resolution puts the encouragement to publish in OA journals first, followed by an encouragement to deposit. Not only is the crucial requirement to deposit missing altogether, but the priorities are counterproductively reversed.

Last, I have to point out that your resolution’s statement regarding deposit is so hedged by apparent legal worries that it is virtually just a statement to the effect that “We encourage you to deposit if and when your publisher says you may deposit”!

Not only is that legalistic hedging not helpful, but it is unnecessary and misleading. Your university can and should require deposit of the author’s final, refereed, revised draft, immediately upon acceptance for publication, without exception. Over 60% of journals (including virtually all the top journals in all fields) already endorse immediate OA self-archiving (see the ROMEO registry). If there is a desire to abide by the remaining journals’ OA embargoes, then your university should simply recommend setting access to the (immediate, mandatory) deposit as Closed Access rather than Open Access during the embargo. But the immediate deposit itself should be mandatory, without exception, regardless of publisher policy on the timing of OA. That way even during any OA embargo users can request and authors can provide “Almost OA” on a case by case basis, for research or educational purposes, via the repository’s semi-automatic “email eprint request” button.

All I can do is hope that as you see the growing evidence of the feasibility and success of immediate-deposit mandates registered in ROARMAP, your university will be emboldened to upgrade its policy to an immediate-deposit mandate (as NIH did, after 2 years lost pursuing the vain hope that encouragement would be enough) before your university needlessly loses many more years of uptake and impact for its annual research output.

Invaluable OA policy-making guidance is now available to universities from EOS (Enabling Open Scholarship) Convenor, Alma Swan, Key Perspectives and University of Southampton; Chairman, Bernard Rentier, Rector, University of Liege.

We hope many new deposit mandates will be announced during international OA week (beginning October 18):

Best wishes,

Harnad, S. (2008) Waking OA?s ?Slumbering Giant?: The University’s Mandate To Mandate Open Access. New Review of Information Networking 14(1): 51 – 68

Harnad, S; Carr, L; Swan, A; Sale, A & Bosc H. (2009) Maximizing and Measuring Research Impact Through University and Research-Funder Open-Access Self Archiving Mandates. Wissenschaftsmanagement 15(4) 36-41

Harnad, S. (2010) The Immediate Practical Implication of the Houghton Report: Provide Green Open Access Now. Prometheus 28 (1). pp. 55-59.

Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2010) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

Swan, A. (2010) The Open Access citation advantage: Studies and results to date. Technical Report. School of Electronics & Computer Science, University of Southampton.

Dramatic Growth of Open Access: September 30, 2010

In brief

The growth rate of open access is robust and growing. DOAJ added 312 titles this quarter (more than 3 per day), for a total of 5,452. There are now more than 6,600 journals using OJS. The number of journals fully participating in PMC continues to grow, while the NIH Public Access Policy compliance rate is about 60%, indicating significant progress but still room for improvement. BASE now searches more than 25 million documents. Hindawi’s monthly submissions have grown to over 2,000 this quarter. The dare to compare section below asks the evocative question of whether the open access sector is, or soon will be, ready for serious comparison with the subscription sector. There are at least four major free or open access journal collections that are more than twice the size of the largest commercial publisher, Elsevier, in terms of number of titles. For example, DOAJ, with over 5,000 titles, has more than twice as many titles than Elsevier. While there is some comparison of apples and oranges here, one conclusion seems reasonable – open access publishing is already comparable to subscription publishing, in terms of capacity if not yet by size. There are also at least two open access metasearch services that may rival, in size, Science Direct. Again, too early for conclusions, but enough to suggest that serious research may be warranted in the not too distant future. Full data are available for download or viewing. Previous editions are available.

Open Access Status as of September 30, 2010

  • Directory of Open Access Journals: 5,452 journals
    • DOAJ growth rate: 3 titles per day
    • # journals searchable at article level: 2,288 (growing at 2 titles per day)
    • # articles searchable at article level: 447,657 (growing at 362 articles per day)

  • Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE): over 25.5 million documents
    • BASE growth rate: 8,000 documents per day

  • REPEC fulltext: 825,000 (growing at over 400 documents per day)

  • arXiv: 629,806 (growing at over 185 documents per day)
  • Open Access Mandate Policies (from ROARMAP): 230 (growth rate: 2 per week)
    • Institutional Policies: 96 (growth rate: 1 per week)

  • PubMedCentral
    • # journals actively participating: 960 (growing at 1 title / day
    • # journals with immediate free access: 556 (growing at 10 titles / month)
    • # journals with all articles open access: 480 (growing at 9 titles / month)
    • estimated NIH Public Access Policy compliance rate: 60%
    • % of articles published within the last 2 years with free fulltext: 19%

Dare we compare?

The following figures are deliberately intended to be evocative, if not provocative. It is acknowledged that there is some comparison of apples and oranges here. The key point is that there are an awful lot of open access apples – or oranges, as you prefer – enough so that comparisons with the subscription based sector either are, or soon will, be worthy of serious research.

There are at least 4 large collections of free and/or open access scholarly journals that are more than double the size of the world’s largest scholarly publisher, Elsevier, by number of titles. Even when we limit to peer-reviewed collections alone, DOAJ now includes more than twice the number of titles in Science Direct. The chart above shows just a few of these large collections for comparison purposes. Electronic Journals Library, with over 26,000 titles, has been omitted from the chart to better illustrate the differences in size of the collections included. This does not mean that open access publishing exceeds subscription-based publishing at this time. However, it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that the capacity of the open access sector already rivals that of the subscription-based sector.

Similarly, there are at least two major metasearch services, Scientific Commons and the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE), where searches encompass more than twice the number of documents available through Elsevier’s Science Direct. While it is not possible to draw any conclusions about the relative number of articles available from each search (both BASE and Scientific Commons will draw on many more types of items than just articles, and duplication due to multiple deposits is likely), it is reasonable to conclude that the relative amount of articles available open access and through major publishers either is, or soon will be, worthy of comparison through serious research.

Milestones this quarter

Hindawi’s monthly submissions grow to over 2,000 September 7, 2010 announcement from Hindawi’s Paul Peters

More than 25 million records in BASE August 3, 2010 announcement, Dirk Pieper, BASE


The NIH Public Access policy compliance rate of 60%, not too far different from the 44% compliance rate reported by Robert Kiley of the Wellcome Trust for their policy earlier this year, is both a sign of progress and an indication that there is still a great deal of work to do to make works publicly or openly accessible, even with these strong mandates. The continuing strong growth of open access both overall and in the PubMed context, as illustrated by the growing list of journals participating fully in PMC far beyond the mandates, contrasts with this lagging compliance rate, and suggests ongoing polarization within the publishing community.

Methodology notes

Growth rates are calculated on the basis of growth over the past year divided by the relevant time-metric (365 for daily, 12 for monthly, 52 for weekly), and rounded.