Open Access Gains Major Support in U. of California’s Systemwide Move
After years of discussion, the University of California’s Academic Senate has adopted an open-access policy that will make research articles freely available to the public through eScholarship, California’s open digital repository.
The new policy, to be phased in over the next few months, applies to all 10 of the system’s campuses and more than 8,000 tenured and tenure-track faculty members. It will affect as many as 40,000 research papers a year, the university said in a statement announcing the news. Faculty members can opt out or ask that their work be embargoed for a period of time, as many journal publishers require.
In a departure from many other institutions’ open-access policies, researchers will also be able to make their work available under commercial as well as noncommercial Creative Commons licenses.
More than 175 universities have preceded California in endorsing open access, but the huge research footprint of the California system gives its action extra significance. University of California researchers get an estimated 8 percent of all U.S. research money, according to the system’s announcement, and produce 2 percent to 3 percent of peer-reviewed scholarly articles published worldwide every year.
« There are a lot of other places that have an open-access policy, but when you pick up the University of California in one fell swoop, I think that’s pretty significant and sends a strong message about how scholarly publishing is heading, » said Robert L. Powell, chairman of the Academic Senate. He is also a professor of chemical engineering and materials science and of food science and technology at the University of California at Davis.
The California conversation about open access got going in the mid-2000s, Mr. Powell said, though an open-access policy proposed in 2006 stalled. But the discussion took off again in the last couple of years. In May 2012, the University of California at San Francisco, which is strong in the biomedical sciences, adopted the system’s first open-access policy. That example gave the systemwide effort an example of how such a policy would work.
The University of California’s faculty members and librarians have also been paying attention to open-access developments at the national level, including the National Institutes of Health’s public-access policy and the recent White House directive ordering federal agencies to make research more freely available.
Some individual campuses, in addition to San Francisco, had also been considering policies, Mr. Powell said. « There was a lot of activity, » he said, « and we really thought it made sense to have a policy that covered the entire system. »
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