Example Policy – Type 1 – Weak

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[ORGANISATION] believes in the importance of openness across all research outputs as an alternative to the current closed system of research.

Specifically, the [ORGANISATION] supports:


– Open Access; the free, immediate, online availability of research articles with full reuse rights.

– Open Education Resources; high-quality educational materials that everyone is permitted to freely use, adapt, and share.

– Open Data; data that can be freely used, shared and built-on by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose.


The [ORGANISATION] believes that students should educate, advocate and act in ways that will lead to Open Access, Open Data and Open Educational Resources becoming the new norm. As part of this the [ORGANISATION] supports the work of the Right to Research Coalition to promote an open scholarly publishing system.


Scholarly material is essential for research and education. While consulting academic journals students face limited access to research data and papers because of very high fees. The high cost of academic journals restricts the use of knowledge; in some fields, prices can reach $20,000 for a single journal subscription or commonly $30 for an individual article (1,2)  These prices are also rising above inflation and causing financial difficulties for all universities(3). Despite these high prices, authors of scholarly articles are not paid for their work, including paper reviews. A vast amount of research is funded from public sources – yet taxpayers are locked out by the cost of access. The profits from these publications go solely to the publishers of the journals.


Open Access is a well established alternative to the traditional closed, subscription-access system of scholarly communication(4). Open Access makes the results of high quality, peer-reviewed scholarly research available online for free, immediately upon publication, and removes barriers for scholarly and educational re-use(5). Entire journals can be Open Access, or an author can provide Open Access to an individual article by posting a copy on an openly accessible Web site.  All forms of Open Access publication depend on rigorous methods of quality control, including peer review. Open Access also supports new, currently prohibitively difficult ways of analysing research such as programmatic analysis of papers through text mining to find new links and trends in research.

Similar to academic journals, the cost of educational resources—particularly textbooks—often harms students’ ability to obtain the materials they need for their courses and contributes significantly to the rising cost of education. In many parts of the world, textbooks have become prohibitively expensive, even for introductory courses where the subject material is well-established(6).


Open Educational Resources make the building blocks of a complete education freely available to all. Open Educational Resources are high-quality, often peer-reviewed textbooks and other learning materials that are openly licensed to permit their free use and repurposing by others(7). There are many benefits to this, the resources can be translated and adapted by instructors to better suit the needs of a class. Further, without price barriers, students are free to incorporate materials beyond those assigned and continue learning after their formal education ends. Studies show that open education resources can produce learning outcomes that meet or exceed those of traditional educational materials(8). There creation is supported through grants and/or business models where additional add-on content is sold to support the costs of production.


The data-rich environment that is evolving poses new challenges and provides new opportunities in the sharing, review, publication and replication of research results. In order for science and scholarship to advance, the results of research must be shared freely so they can be understood and built upon. This is particularly critical in the scientific research process, where the validity of results can only be verified through replication. The inability to replicate results, fraud and malpractice within research is increasingly becoming recognised as an issue and can have serious impacts on public policy and health(9,10). Ensuring full access to and reuse of research data guards against this. Open Data also promotes the use of new tools including text and data mining to advance research.


Established 5 years ago by students, the Right to Research Coalition is now an international alliance of graduate and undergraduate student organizations, which collectively represent nearly 7 million students in over 100 countries around the world, that advocate for and educate students about open methods of scholarly publishing(11).


The [ORGANISATION] believes that Open Access, Open Data and Open Educational Resources:


  • Improve the educational experience.

  • Democratizes access to research and education.  

  • Advances and accelerates research and education.  

  • Improves the visibility and impact of scholarship.

The [ORGANISATION] therefore calls on:


1) [ORGANISATION] members and students to:

  • Support and initiate projects promoting Open Access, Open Data and Open Educational Resources to the fullest extent.

  • Clearly display licensing information on [ORGANISATION] produced documents, such as Creative Commons licences.

  • Join the Right to Research Coalition.

2) Universities to:

  • Adopt policies that ensure Open Access to their faculty’s research outputs and other educational resources;

  • Accelerate efforts to promote open resources, technology and teaching practices in education through deployment of free and open source software and providing the necessary training to staff and students;

  • Establish research data management system which facilitate Open Data

  • Support the use and creation of Open Educational Resources.

3) Government and Research funders to:

  • Adopt policies that ensure Open Access to research and to underlying data as appropriate.

  • Invest in programs that support the creation and use of Open Educational Resources

4) Researchers, Educators and Learners to:

  • Publish in Open Access journals, and/or deposit their peer- reviewed manuscripts in Open Access repositories and make underlying data openly available as appropriate;

  • Seek and assign Open Educational Resources in place of expensive, traditional learning materials whenever academically appropriate and suitable for the curriculum.



1. The cost for an institutional print subscription of the journal Brain Research was $19,952 in 2013 [Internet]. [cited 2014 Jun 29]. Available from: http://store.elsevier.com/product.jsp?issn=00068993

2. The most common price per article for Elsevier journals on ScienceDirect is $31.50 as of October 18, 2013 [Internet]. [cited 2014 Jun 29]. Available from: http://www.elsevier.com/online-tools/sciencedirect/articles#pay-per-view

3. Harvard University says it can’t afford journal publishers’ prices [Internet]. [cited 2014 Jun 29]. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/apr/24/harvard-university-journal-publishers-prices

4. There are almost 10,000 journals registered in the Directory of Open Access Journals [Internet]. [cited 2014 Jun 29]. Available from: http://doaj.org/

5. Budapest Open Access Initiative | Read the Budapest Open Access Initiative [Internet]. [cited 2014 Jun 29]. Available from: http://www.budapestopenaccessinitiative.org/read

6. A Cover to Cover Solution How Open Textbooks are the Path to Textbook Affordability [Internet]. [cited 2014 Jun 29]. Available from: http://www.studentpirgs.org/reports/cover-cover-solution

7. The definition of Open Educational Resources given by William and Flora Hewlett Foundation [Internet]. [cited 2014 Jun 29]. Available from: http://www.hewlett.org/programs/education/open-educational-resources

8. Feldstein A, Martin M, Hudson A. Open Textbooks and Increased Student Access and Outcomes. … Open, Distance E- … [Internet]. 2012;1–9. Available from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ992490.pdf

9. Ioannidis JPA. Why most published research findings are false. Jantsch W, Schaffler F, editors. PLoS Med [Internet]. Public Library of Science; 2005;4(6):e124. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16060722

10. Begley CG, Ellis LM. Drug development: Raise standards for preclinical cancer research. Nature [Internet]. Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved.; 2012 Mar 29 [cited 2014 May 30];483(7391):531–3. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/483531a

11. Right to Research Coalition [Internet]. [cited 2014 Jun 29]. Available from: http://www.righttoresearch.org/


  • When do we need to have signed the new statement to maintain our membership?

We expect to gradually broaden the coalition’s focus over 2015 and into 2016. We know organizations might only have few opportunities a year to pass policies to support the updated statement and so signing the new statement could take a year or more. Our timeline is flexible and we’ll be observing and talking with members to ensure we maintain a strong coalition through the transition. Organizations will be given notice of when their membership of the coalition will be terminated.

  • What do I do if only some of these issues are important to my organization?


The internet has revolutionized everything except research and education—the very things it was build to advance. We need to change that. To turn students into graduates, to transform ideas into industries, to translate breakthroughs into better lives.

You can find our info pages on the topics here, and we challenge you to learn about each issue without concluding they’re something your organization can take a stance on!


  • What happens if we don’t pass the updated statement before the transition ends?


If you don’t pass the statement, eventually we will have to end your membership of the Right to Research Coalition. However, we may continue to note your organization supported the original statement on Open Access alone and possibly even as a “legacy” member.


  • How many others have supported this issue?


OpenCon, our coalition’s conference and community on these issues has found incredibly strong support for these issues among students and early career researchers. While there are no doubt still issues facing each of these causes, we’ve found thousands of young people through OpenCon who are passionate about ensuring Open Research and Education is the future.

Many of our members have already made strides to adopt this broader range of issues, include NAGPS, IFMSA, UAEM, Open Access Nepal and Open Access Nigeria. You can find all the members who have signed the new statement here.


  • What else is happening as part of this transition?


Adopting a new statement as a coalition is just the first step of this transition. As part of this we also expect to undergo a website redesign and content/resource generation to reflect our broader range of issues. OpenCon is our first major initiative combine each of these areas, and it’s active community is taking huge action these issues. We hope that Coalition members will also take this transition as the opportunity to establish projects to support these new areas.


  • Can organizations who didn’t sign the original statement sign the updated statement?




  • Who can join the Right to Research Coalition?


Originally, it was only student-led organizations. However, after significant interesting in these issues from early career researchers has become a powerful force for change we thought it was important for their membership to be accepted. We currently allow student, and early career research led organizations to join.

Why update the statement?

Impact of the original Student Statement

In the summer of 2009, the original Student Statement on the Right to Research sent a strong message to the world that students support Open Access and marked the founding of the Right to Research Coalition. From just 6 founding members, the Right to Research Coalition and its statement have now grown to over 85 organisations across the world, and together the coalition has had an important impact. The Open Access movement, now with students at its center, has made large strides toward its goal of unlocking the world’s scholarly research. Today, it is increasingly common to see top research funders with Open Access policies; Open Access journals are publishing a higher percentage of the world’s research output each year; and repositories have become core infrastructure that provide access to millions of articles. There is still a long way to go, but we’re on the right track.

Why the Student Statement has been updated 

As the movement for Open Access has grown, the related causes of Open Education and Open Data have become increasingly important. We’ve watched our member organizations begin to integrate these aligned issues into their work organically, and SPARC, our parent organization, has similarly expanded its mission to include Open Education and Open Data. Updating the Student Statement will reflect the diversity of our members’ efforts to promote openness across research and education, and provide the grounding the Right to Research Coalition needs to represent and advocate for students on these issues. Our scope has also naturally expanded to include early career researchers as well as students, and the statement has been updated to reflect its intention to represent the next generation, from undergraduates to those beginning a career in the academy.

What’s changed in the updated Student Statement 

Two new sections on Open Data and Open Education have been added to the statement and mirror the structure of the original text on Open Access—explaining why the issues are important the next generation and calling for action to be taken to make open the new default. Language has also been added to be inclusive of early career academic professionals and provide context for how Open Access can differ in the Humanities.

How the statement has been updated

The process of updating the Student Statement has taken place over several years with the constant input of students, member organizations and experts. The next step is yours to take! The Student Statement gains its strength from student organisation around the world signing on. We invite you to do just that, and we’re here to offer any support you may need.