Open Access Mandates and Policies in the United States
October 27, 2016
Submitted by Andrew Keck, Director of Library Services and Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Luther Seminary
The following is excerpted from a presentation on “Open Access in the United States” to the 2016 BETH annual meeting in Helsinki, Finland.
The United States government has a number of grant-making agencies that require public dissemination of findings and some have had requirements in place for a number of years. The latest, from my understanding, is the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Directive in 2013, and a subsequent appropriations act in 2014, requires federal agencies that have more than $100M in research budgets to develop public access policies. There are nuances to these policies, including which agencies are and are not included; the degree of legal onus to comply and their robust policies; and what precisely requires public access and how quickly it should be made available. Some agencies, like the National Institutes of Health, have been at been at this for a while and created their PubMed search engine more than twenty years ago. Other agencies, like NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) created its own PubSpace for NASA-funded research less than three months ago.
Unlike the science and health agencies with scientific research agendas, the arts and humanities agencies have different stipulations. Oftentimes the arts and humanities projects are an event or a creative work or something that does not let itself to the same kinds of “findings” and “data” as might be easily shared in other disciplines.
One brief personal example from the library world is with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal grant-making agency that supports the work of museums and libraries. Part of their grants are in the form of block-grants to individual states that can then use the funds in any variety of ways to support library efforts at the state level. Some states use the funds for cooperative purchases/licensing of digital materials or supporting state-wide document delivery. Other states offer their own competitive grants using the funds. When I was at Duke University, I applied for Institute of Museum and Library Services funding through my state library for a digitization project of religious publications in North Carolina. The digitization grant wanted us to use the funds to make the materials themselves publicly available, which we did. However, my colleagues and I wrote several articles and papers about the experience of the grant. Scholars and others are now writing articles and books based upon the content of materials digitized. In both of these cases, there is no requirement or even suggestion that these be publicly disseminated.
“While not disinterested in wide dissemination, they are simply more interested in maintaining public project websites and supporting scholars producing traditional publications.”
Beyond the government, the foundations supporting STEM research are more likely to have public dissemination mandates. With a few exceptions, like the Gates Foundation, fewer foundations supporting higher education or the humanities have such mandates. Theological education in the United States has enjoyed generous support from the Lilly Endowment and the Luce Foundation with also some support from the Templeton Foundation. While they are interested in impact and provide incentives/mechanisms for publicity and acknowledgement, I am not aware that any have or are considering an open access policy. While not disinterested in wide dissemination, they are simply more interested in maintaining public project websites and supporting scholars producing traditional publications.
The Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARMAP) is a searchable international registry charting the growth of open access mandates and policies adopted by universities, research institutions, and research funders that require or request their researchers to provide open access to their peer-reviewed research article output by depositing it in an open access repository. I suspect the voluntary nature of this registry may result in undercounting as they list 131 such policies in the United States with only a handful representing faculties at theological seminaries or divinity schools.
“The authors note that faculty are more likely to support an open access policy as long as it doesn’t include any form of coercion.”
Fruin and Sutton’s recent survey of North American institutions with open access policies revealed that 41% of the policies grant, without action by the author, the institution certain non-exclusive rights to research articles but also offers a waiver or opt-out for authors. The authors note that faculty are more likely to support an open access policy as long as it doesn’t include any form of coercion.
A surprising number of associations have open access policies impacting their own publications but at least in one case, is framed as a policy for members. ATLA has published an open access journal, Theological Librarianship, since 2008 and more recently started an open access monograph series. The Society for Biblical Literature has an open access policy that promotes their two open-access book series and “green” open access policy for authors of all SBL publications.
Finally, the Association of College and Research Libraries, has a new open access policy that directly addresses academic librarians (i.e., their own membership). Going beyond their own publications, they set a standard or policy for how academic librarians should model open access to their own scholarship.
ACRL Policy Statement on Open Access to Scholarship by Academic Librarians
Approved by the ACRL Board of Directors during the ALA Annual Conference, June 2016.
Scholarship by academic librarians advances the fields of library and information science, influences practices of aligned professions, and informs effective advocacy. In support of broad and timely dissemination of library and information science scholarship, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) encourages academic librarians to publish in open access journals. When academic librarians choose to publish in subscription-based journals, ACRL recommends a standard practice of depositing the final accepted manuscript in a repository to make that version openly accessible. The author should be responsible for determining at what date the deposited manuscript becomes openly accessible, taking into account applicable institutional or funder policies, as well as other relevant considerations. ACRL further encourages academic librarians to make other forms of scholarship, such as monographs, presentations, grey literature, and data, openly accessible.
It is also imperative that publishers of library and information science scholarship explore and implement publishing models to make their content openly accessible as soon as possible. Librarians who are editors, reviewers, and authors should assist with this effort by engaging with their publishers about these models.
One way of supporting and encouraging open access publishing is through funder, institutional, and association mandates and policies. Although such mandates and policies are limited in religious studies and theology, we can learn from the experience of policies in other disciplines and can advocate within our own profession and disciplines.
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