Why Open Access?

Academic authors, whose work may be funded by their institutions, public grants or private fellowships, typically submit that work to specialized journals for publication. If accepted, the articles are published in print or online, and the journal owns the copyright to the work. As a result, access to the published articles usually requires subscriptions fees, either from individuals or institutional libraries. Thus, colleges and universities may end up paying twice—once to support the author and later to the publisher—for the same work; and authors may not have free access to their own published work for distribution to students or colleagues because they have not retained the copyright.

The Open Access movement in publishing is a response to these concerns, and is intended to provide unrestricted global access to peer-reviewed scholarly articles. The nature of this access may include self-archiving or institutional archiving by authors that have retained copyright to their work or, alternatively, unrestricted access on a publisher’s website.

The growth of OA has been aided by the adoption of Open Access Mandates, both by funding agencies and academic institutions. In 2008, the National Institutes of Health adopted a policy that “all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication.”  The NIH policy does not dictate in which journals their grantees must publish, simply that an electronic version must be made available within one year.

The Academic Support Committee has reviewed Open Access policies from other universities and colleges.  Typically these policies provide that all faculty-published articles be placed in an institutional repository and, whenever possible, made openly available via the internet. The main goal of the policy presented here is to provide institutional backing for authors to maintain their own copyright privileges.  The surveyed and proposed policies establish the default situation to be the faculty member as copyright holders (consistent with the Faculty Handbook section 11.25.II.A); the faculty member would then grant the College a non-exclusive copyright to allow open dissemination of the work.  However, whenever a faculty member cannot allow such dissemination, a waiver is granted and the article is deposited but sequestered to be viewable only to the author.

Report from the Academic Support Committee to the Faculty, Feb. 18, 2013