An open-access mandate is a policy adopted by a research institution, research funder, or government which requires researchers—usually university faculty or research staff and/or research grant recipients—to make their published, peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers open access (1) by self-archiving their final, peer-reviewed drafts in a freely accessible institutional repository or disciplinary repository ("Green OA") or (2) by publishing them in an open-access journal ("Gold OA") or both.
Among the universities that have adopted open-access mandates for faculty are Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University College London, Queensland University of Technology, University of Minho (Portugal), University of Liege and ETH Zürich. Among the funding organizations that have adopted open-access mandates for grant recipients are National Institutes of Health (with the NIH Public Access Policy), Research Councils UK, National Fund for Scientific Research, Wellcome Trust and European Research Council. For a full index of institutional and funder open-access mandates adopted to date, see the Registry of Open Access Mandatory Archiving Policies (ROARMAP).
Open-access mandates can be classified in many ways: by the type of mandating organization (employing institution or research funder), by the locus (institutional or institution-external) and timing of deposit itself (immediate, delayed), by the time (immediate, delayed) at which the deposit is made open access, and by whether or not there is a default copyright-retention contract (and whether it can be waived). Mandate types can also be compared for strength and effectiveness (in terms of the annual volume, proportion and timing of deposits, relative to total annual article output, as well as the time that access to the deposit is set as open access. Mandates are classified and ranked by some of these properties in MELIBEA.
Institutional and funder mandates
Universities can adopt open-access mandates for their faculty. All such mandates make allowances for special cases. Tenured faculty cannot be required to publish; nor can they be required to make their publications open access. However, mandates can take the form of administrative procedures, such as designating repository deposit as the official means of submitting publications for institutional research performance review, or for research grant applications or renewal. Many European university mandates have taken the form of administrative requirements, whereas many U.S. university mandates have taken the form of a unanimous or near-unanimous self-imposed faculty consensus consisting of a default rights-retention contract (together with a waiver option for individual special cases).
Principal kinds of open-access mandates
"Mandate" can mean either "authorize" or "oblige". Both senses are important in inducing researchers to provide OA. Open-access advocate Peter Suber has remarked that "'mandate' is not a good word..." for open-access policies, "...but neither is any other English word." Other ways to describe a mandate include "shifting the default publishing practice to open access" in the case of university faculty or "putting an open-access condition" on grant recipients. Mandates are stronger than policies which either request or encourage open access, because they require that authors provide open access. Some mandates allow the author to opt out if they give reasons for doing so.
- Encouragement policies - These are not requirements but merely recommendations to provide open access.
- Loophole mandates - These require authors to provide open access if and when their publishers allow it.
Mandates may include the following clauses:
- Mandates with a limited-embargo clause - These require authors to provide open access either immediately or, at the latest, after a maximal permissible embargo period (which may vary from 6 months to 12 months or more).
- Mandates with an immediate-deposit clause - These require authors to deposit their refereed final drafts in their institutional repository immediately upon publication (or upon acceptance for publication) whether or not their publishing contracts allow making the deposit open access immediately: If the publisher embargoes open access, access to the deposit can be left as closed access during any permissible embargo period. (For closed-access deposits repositories have a request-a-copy Button with which users can request and authors can provide a single copy with one click each during the embargo.)
- Mandates with a rights-retention clause - These policies typically extend to the parent institution a non-exclusive license to exercise any and all copyrights in the article. Copyright remains with the author until they transfer copyright to a publisher, at which point the non-exclusive license survives. In so doing, authors are free to publish wherever they prefer, while granting the institution the right to post a version of the article on the open web via an institutional repository. The benefit of the rights-retention clause is that neither the author, nor the institution, need negotiate open access with the publisher; the policy itself allows open access to the article. Upon acceptance or publication, the author or their representative deposits the article into their institutional repository. Waivers are generally available in cases where authors do not desire open access for a given article.
Locus of deposit
Most institutional open-access mandates require that authors self archive their papers in their own institutional repository. Some funder mandates specify institutional deposit, some specify institution-external deposit, and some allow either.
Timing of deposit
Mandates may require deposit immediately upon publication (or acceptance for publication) or after an allowable embargo.
Timing of opening access to deposit
Mandates may require opening access to the deposit immediately upon publication (or acceptance for publication) or after an allowable embargo.
Canadian funding agencies
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) proposed a mandate in 2006 and adopted it in September 2007, becoming the first North American public research funder to do so. The CIHR Policy on Access to Research Outputs provides two options to researchers: publication in open access journals, and making their manuscripts available in an online central (PubMed Central Canada is recommended) or institutional repository.
In October 2013, the two other Canadian federal funding agencies, the National Science and Engineering Council (NSERC) and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) jointly proposed the same mandate as CIHR's, and launched a two-month consultation on what will become the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy.
On February 27, 2015 a Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications was announced. Peer-reviewed journal publications arising from Agency-supported research must be made freely available within 12 months of publication, whether by depositing in an online repository or by publishing in a journal that offers immediate or delayed open access. The policy is effective for grants awarded from May 1, 2015 onward.
On May 1, 2015 the International Development Research Centre adopted a new open access policy. Books and journal articles must be made freely available within 12 months of publication, whether by publishing open access and using open access journals, or by uploading to an open access repository. The policy is effective for proposals received on or after July 20, 2015.
United States funding agencies
In May 2006, the US Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) was proposed toward improving the NIH Public Access Policy. Besides points about making open access mandatory, to which the NIH complied in 2008, it argues to extend self-archiving to the full spectrum of major US-funded research. In addition, the FRPAA would no longer stipulate that the self-archiving must be central; the deposit can now be in the author's own institutional repository (IR). The new U.S. National Institutes of Health's Public Access Policy took effect in April 2008 and states that "all articles arising from NIH funds must be submitted to PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication". It stipulates self-archiving in PubMed Central regardless of the use of the author's own institutional repository. In 2012, the NIH announced it would enforce its Public Access Policy by blocking the renewal of grant funds to authors who don't follow the policy.
Also in 2013, the White House issued a directive requiring federal agencies "with over $100 million in annual conduct of research and development expenditures" to develop, within the next 6 months, a plan to make the peer-reviewed publications directly arising from Federal funding "publicly accessible to search, retrieve, and analyze".
As a result, open-access repositories and multi-annual open access strategies have been developed by federal institutions like the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy. DOE also hosts OSTI.gov, a repository with over 3 million records for federal works of which over 700,000 have full text as of 2019.
In 2019, the GAO issued a report on the implementation of the 2013 directive, with 37 recommendations to 16 agencies.
European funding agencies
In April 2006, the European Commission recommended: "EC Recommendation A1: "Research funding agencies... should [e]stablish a European policy mandating published articles arising from EC-funded research to be available after a given time period in open access archives..." This recommendation has since been updated and strengthened by the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB). The project OpenAIRE (Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe) has since been launched.
The global shift towards open access to the results of publicly funded research (publications and data) has been a core strategy in the European Commission to improve knowledge circulation and thus innovation. It is illustrated in particular by the general principle for open access to scientific publications in Horizon 2020 and the pilot for research data. In 2012, via a Recommendation, the European Commission encouraged all EU Member States to put publicly funded research results in the public sphere in order to strengthen science and the knowledge-based economy. In 2017 it emerged that the European Commission are looking to create its own open access publishing platform for papers that emerge from the Horizon 2020 programme. The platform is likely to be similar to the one used by Wellcome Trust for Wellcome Open Research and Gates Foundation's Gates Open Research.
To somewhat improve on the European Commission's (and FRPAA's) allowable embargo of up to six months, EURAB has revised the mandate: all articles must be deposited immediately upon acceptance for publication; the allowable delay for complying with publisher embargoes applies only to the time when access to the deposit must be made open access rather than to the time when it must be deposited. Immediate deposit is required so that individual users can then request an immediate individual copy of any deposited eprint during the embargo period by clicking on a "RequestCopy" Button provided by the Institutional Repository software (e.g., DSPACE, EPrints). The Button automatically sends an email message to the author requesting an individual eprint; the author can comply with one click and the software immediately emails the eprint to the requestor. This is not open access, but may cover some immediate research needs during any embargo. A related idea was later put forth as the Open Access Button for papers that have not been deposited in an Institutional Repository .
For the four institutions with the oldest self-archiving mandates, the averaged percentage of green open-access self-archiving has been compared to the percentage for control articles from other institutions published in the same journals (for years 2002–2009, measured in 2011). Open-access mandates triple the percent Green OA (see figure below). Respective totals are derived from the Thomson Reuters Web of Science.
As of May 2015, open-access mandates have been adopted by over 550 universities and research institutions, and over 140 research funders worldwide. Examples of universities which have open-access mandates are Harvard University and MIT in the United States and University College London and ETH Zürich in the European Union. Funders which require open access when their funding recipients publish include the NIH in the US and RCUK and ERC in the EU. Mandate policy models and guidance have been provided by the Open Society Institute's EPrints Handbook, EOS, OASIS and Open Access Archivangelism.
ROARMAP, the searchable Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies at the University of Southampton indexes the world's institutional, funder and governmental OA mandates (and the Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook (OASIS) as well as EnablingOpenScholarship (EOS) graph the quarterly outcome). SHERPA/JULIET is a SHERPA service which lists funder mandates only.
In international cross-disciplinary surveys conducted by Swan (2005), the vast majority of researchers respond that they would self archive willingly if their institutions or funders mandated it. Outcome studies by Sale (2006) have confirmed these survey results. Both mandated and unmandated institutional and disciplinary repositories worldwide are indexed by SHERPA's OpenDOAR and their rate of growth is monitored and displayed by the University of Southampton's Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR).
Recent studies have tested which mandate conditions are most effective in generating deposit. The three most important conditions identified were: (1) immediate deposit required, (2) deposit required for performance evaluation, and (3) unconditional opt-out allowed for the OA requirement but no opt-out allowed for the deposit requirement.
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