Hundreds of public and private universities in the U.S. and other countries have open access policies, including the University of California, the University of Minnesota, Duke, MIT, all of Harvard’s 9 schools – and within the last year the University of Arizona and the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. For a list of universities and funding agencies with open access policies, see the Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARMAP)
What are the purposes of an open access policy?
- Benefits to Authors. Open access works are more easily found and accessible via tools like Google Scholar than those made available solely via traditional toll-based methods. This results in greater visibility, as well as a well-documented “open access citation advantage.” In addition, under the policy authors retain rights to use their work in teaching or future scholarly work that might otherwise be exclusively and unnecessarily assigned to publishers.
- Benefits to the University. Open access policies promote the value of institutional research and scholarship to funding agencies and the taxpayers. In addition, OA policies serve to highlight universities' roles as a national and global resources for positive change through education and research.
- Public Benefits. Open access policies make the results of university research available to individuals who do not have access to academic journals that may be prohibitively expensive. This wider access would be expected to accelerate discovery of new ideas, allow a global audience to engage with the scholarship of the university and allow instructors to make use of materials for teaching at no cost. Wider availability of research articles democratizes information and spurs further innovation and progress.
- Serves as a Catalyst for Change in Scholarly Publishing. Under the current unsustainable publishing model journal prices have increased at 5 times the rate of the Consumer Price Index within the past 15 years, while major journal publishers limit journal cancelations by “bundling” desirable and undesirable titles together – thus strictly limiting cancelations. At the same time, authors are often required to transfer copyrights to publishers and accept restrictions on common practices like making their work available on the web or using it in classes. The rate of transition from a toll-based to open access publishing model is unpredictable, but an open access policies supported by faculty members not only allows faculty authors to retain extremely broad use and reuse rights with a minimum of effort, it also strengthens the universities' positions negotiating with publishers both for authors’ rights and future subscription licensing terms.