Friday, 18 April 2008

OA Mandates

Institutional / Funder OA Mandates

There are now over 40 mandates requiring authors to deposit articles arising from research conducted in their organisations in their institutional repositories (IRs) – see ROARmap for details of existing and agreed mandates. The number includes prestigious organisations such as the Universities of Harvard and Southampton, the NIH, the Wellcome Trust and many more. Moreover, the council of the European University Association (representing nearly 800 European universities) has unanimously recommended the establishment of interoperable institutional repositories.

In spite of this growing trend, some researchers object to being ‘mandated’ to deposit their papers. They think it will interfere with their professional independence.

I find this attitude difficult to understand. On accepting their research position, researchers are ‘required’ to carry out research; they are ‘required’ to report the outcome of their research in institutional reports and in journals of their choice. Their institutes and funders have provided the resources for the research in order to increase knowledge and they rightly wish to justify their investment and ensure the research findings are as widely known as possible. By depositing articles in their interoperable institutional repository authors are hugely increasing the distribution of knowledge to the global academic community (see, for example EPT BLog, March 26th 2008). So what’s the problem?

Those that have access already to much of the research information they need for their work may not feel there is any need to take another few minutes (because that’s all it takes) to deposit their publications in their IRs. But by deciding not to bother to do this, they are denying the 80% of the world’s researchers who live in less economically advantaged regions the means to access the research they need, to develop strong national research structures that in turn will lead to robust and independent economies. That’s the problem.

Researchers should consider an institutional or funder mandate as merely an additional small ‘requirement’ that can make a vast difference to the progress of science and the resolution of many of the world’s problems – unless of course their research is of limited value. . . .

Posted by Barbara Kirsop, Trustee and Secretary EPT

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