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.
Features of open-access mandates
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, 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 Polices (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-rentention contract (together with a waiver option for individual special cases).
Research funders such as government funding agencies or private foundations can adopt open-access mandates as contractual conditions for receiving funding.
Principal kinds of open-access policies
"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.
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 December 2013, open-access mandates have been adopted by over 240 universities and over 90 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 Mandatory Archiving 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).
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- MELIBEA directory and comparator of institutional open-access policies
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