Open Access news from Norway

February 17, 2009, [MD]

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Peter Suber's Open Access News has recently posted on two Norway-related Open Access developments. In both cases, the actual policies were in Norwegian, and in PDF files. I thought I'd try to ferret out some of the details and share them with the readers of this blog, and of Open Access News.

The first announcement was that the Norwegian Research Council (who has clearly not heard about clean URLs) has adopted an Open Access mandate. The text of the mandate is in this PDF.  Here is an abridged translation of the text of the mandate:

NRC principles for access to scholarly publishing

1) Goal

Results of publicly financed research should be publicly available.Scholarly publishing partly or entirely funded by the Research Council shall to the largest extent possible be openly accessible for all those interested. To achieve this, the Research Council will contribute to enable the potential for dissemination and quality assurance of research results that is provided by open media and infrastructure to be exploited to the fullest.

[...] During the last few years, OA has gained in currency because certain international publishing houses have gained a monopoly position, which has led to a strong growth in the cost of journal subscriptions. This has put great pressure on institutional libraries. OA also covers other important research policy needs through a) strengthening the scholarly quality, through enabling more people to comment and build on published research results, b) through enabling business and other parties to easily access research results, c) through enabling government to find out about research results, d) through storing an unlimited amount of digital copies of articles, securing the access to today's published research results for the future, and e) to give researchers at institutions with lack of funding, especially in developing countries, access to the newest research results.

Two main pathways: green and gold. (Interestingly, they state that in OA journals, publishing costs are covered in other ways than through subscription, usually through author pays. I don't think this conforms with the statistics we have.) Green and gold refers to two different business models for publishing, self-archiving is no major threat to today's subscription based model, but can be expected to pressure the publishers to reduce prices because articles are publicly available after a while (usually six months). OA journals, on the other hand, challenge the established subscription model, and can lead to structural consequences that are had to predict today. For example the question about how author pay should be organized and financed in a sustainable fashion, is currently unclear.

OA is not limited to scientific journal articles. Anthology articles and monographs are other examples of peer-reviewed publications that can be seen in an OA perspective. However, journal articles constitute the dominant form of publishing - internationally, and across disciplines. It is therefore useful to limit the NRC's OA principles to this publishing form.(They don't mention history for example, where monographs are the main vehicle, and the also don't mention that an important reason why OA monographs might be harder, is that authors receive some royalty. However, there is of course a growing movement of OA monographs and university presses as well).

A discussion about encouraging deposits, and mandating it - international experience shows that encouragement doesn't work, but mandates do. 2**) The NRC's demands for OA to scholarly publishing* The social benefits connected with OA to scholarly publishing are substantial. Therefore, the NRC will demand that peer-reviewed scientific articles, based on research that is entirely or partly financed by the NRC will be self-archived in appropriate archives, where these exist. These demands for archival must not conflict with the academic and legal rights of the authors.*

The researchers' right to independently choose the "publishing channel" for their own scientific results is an important aspect of academic freedom. But researchers also carry an academic commitment to publish in a way that allows the peer community and the greater community to get sufficient access to these results. The principle of the individual researchers independently choosing the channel of publications for their research results can be challenged in two ways through the demand for OA.

1) The demand for self-archiving can limit the possibility of publishing in journals that today don't accept this.**

Most Norwegian and international journals, however, currently accept self-archiving. The demand for self-archiving from ever more research institutions and funders makes it only a question of time before this becomes common practice. In the cases where self-archiving is still not allowed, the NRC should be able to accept an exception from the demand to self-archive.

2) OA-publishing that is financed through author pays can lead to new financial and administrative limitations.**

It would be unfortunate if the research environments gain decision power over who get the funding to publish, and thus are actually ble to fund. The NRC should therefore be careful about establishing incentives that contribute to changing fundamental publishing patterns, before there is enough knowledge about the results of author-financed publishing.

When the NRC mandates that researchers self-archive Copyright-protected materials in institutional archives, the NRC must ensure that such archiving does not contradict the legal rights to this material by the author and the publisher. This is for example relevant in connection with secondary use of published material, such as readers for use in education. UHR and the collective rights organizations are currently negotiating about the use of digital material at institutions. A future agreement will probably be able to clarify the Copyright aspects of secondary use of material from digital archives, and the NRC will respect such an agreement and the demand it puts on self-archiving.(This is strange? Does not open access include that you can create readers for free?)**

**3) Self-archiving: Infrastructure and user perspective* Scientific articles that fit the demands in part two should be archived in an electronic archive (repository), either at the researcher's institution, or in a disciplinary repository. Normally a post-print version of the article should be archived. If the author publishes in a journal that does not allow such publishing, and has not received permission to archive after having asked for this, the individual can be exempted from the demand to self-archive.*

The technical and administrative infrastructure for self-archiving is to a large degree already present at Norwegian education and research institutions, for example through DUO at UiO and BIBSYS' Brage-Solution. The health sector has developed a common system (HERA), while there is varying coverage within the independent research institutes. There are also international subject-specific open archives within each research area, for example the UK PubMed Central. If this is an archive that increases the visibility of publications, or is mandated as an archival location by other organizations, the NRC should encourage users to use these.

Userfriendliness is an important facotr to ensure that researchers self-archive without perceiving it as an extra burden. A task force established by the Knowledge Department ("Ministry of Education" in Norway) has recently submitted a proposal for a common database of scholarly publishing within a national system for research information. [...] The background for the research is the need to gather the research from the health sector, tertiary institutions and independent research institutes in one register, which will significantly simplify the work of self-archiving. This will depend on how the report is received in the department.

Such a project should also inform the researchers about their legal rights related to Copyright, and what version of the article that they can upload. The NRC and other institutions that mandate self-archiving, must still be expected to provide guidance about authors' rights related to self-archiving.

**4) Collaboration and advice* OA is in continuous development, and can in the long-term lead to large-scale changes in publishing patterns and practices within research and academia. It is important that the principles of the NRC reflect these developments, and can be adapted if the circumstances so demand. To ensure that the principles at all times ensure the goal of OA to scholarly publishing, the NRC will establish a good dialogue about the principles with relevant institutions and collaborators.*

The NRC shall provide th government with give research policy advice. The KD has [...] asked the NRC and UHR to provide advice about measures that can promote self-archiving and other OA publishing. The Department is especially interested in a consideration of whether self-archiving should be mandated for publicly funded research, and what legal, technological, communications, economics, administrative and other consequences that might arise from this. The NRC's feedback to the Department have been designed according to the principles of OA to scholarly publishing.

The second announcement is a report from a working group of the Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions (Universitets- og høgskolerådet or UHR) who were asked by the Ministry of Education and Research (Kunnskapsdepartemente or KD) to come up with recommendations regarding OA. The report is 37 pages, and I have made an abridged translation of the executive summary, as well as mentioned a few interesting tidbits from the text itself.

Increased access to Norwegian research resultsRecommendations from a working group established by the research committee of UHR

(A number of reasons why OA would be good). The UHR working group belives that access to scientific results is an important research policy question. A positive attitutde to the OA initiative at the KD will have a great importance for the development within the institutions. KD should therefore support free access in the policy development and follow-up of universities and colleges. The KD should encourage institutions to develop strategies and guidelines that contribute to OA for scientific publications in their strategies for research.

The long-term goal should be that all scientific articles that result from publicly financed research should be publicly available, unless there is a strong reason for limiting access. The short-term goal should be that 50% of all published scientific articles are openly accessible within 2015.(This doesn't seem very ambitious...) To reach this goal, the researchers themselves must see the advantages of free access, and be willing to employ the opportunities granted by new technology.

KD should prioritize supporting the further development and use of institutional archives. This does not preclude publishing in OA-journals. To succeed, the institutions must have a conscious idea about quality, and what they want to achieve with their institutional archives.

The work group separates between the submission itself, and the public dissemination of the published articles. The group believes that the institutions can demand submission of scientific publications because of the need for oversight, testability, and institutional memory. The submission of a published article will not automatically lead to it being made accessible, that requires permission from the researchers. The group believes it to be probable that most people who are asked to do so, will give their permission, given that they have been well-informed, the question of rights has ben taken care of, and the infrastructure is in place.

Good infrastructure is about archives that are easy to use. It is a big advantage if the full-text archive is directly connected to the research documentation system. The institutions should facilitate administrative follow-up in regards to submissions, clearing rights and making submissions accessible, as well as having a communications plan that clarify the advantages of OA. They should also encourage the researchers to keep the rigto make their works accesible in their own archives, disciplinary archive or institutional archive at publishing. This will demand resources, and in the short-term the benefit will not lead to decreased costs.

In addition to the work of influencing institutions, KD should prioritize the following measures at a national level:

The Department should also consider other measures to cover costs related to publishing in Open Access journals.

To avoid these measures having unexpected consequences, the Norwegian publishing industry should be closely followed. From the main text


Stian Håklev February 17, 2009 Toronto, Canada
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