A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

UC Launches Open-Access Policy

November 18, 2014

After a six-year process that included two years of formal review, the University of California joined more than 130 universities nationwide to adopt an open-access policy that ensures research articles authored by faculty members will be made available to the public at no charge.

Academic Senate adopted the Open Access Policy in July 2013 and implementation began last November on three pilot campuses: UCLA, UC San Francisco and UC Irvine. The seven remaining campuses, including UC Merced, began carrying out the policy this month, joining universities such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford to embrace open access.

Notable impact on research accessibility

As the largest public university in the world, with more than 8,000 faculty members publishing scholarly research, this UC mandate will have a notable impact on the accessibility of the UC’s academic publications.

“As part of a public university system, the faculty is dedicated to making its scholarship available to the people of California and the world,” reads the policy’s preamble. “Faculty recognize the benefits from such wide dissemination, including greater recognition, more thorough review, consideration and critique, and a general increase in scientific, scholarly and critical knowledge.”

The policy applies to all scholarly articles authored or co-authored while a person is a faculty member, except articles published before the adoption and any articles in which a faculty member entered into an incompatible licensing or assignment agreement before the policy’s adoption. 

In advance of the policy’s launch here, the UC Merced Library sponsored Open Access Week in late October to help get the word out and tout its benefits. Library staff members held tabling events where they answered questions and provided information.

The library also hosted a panel discussion featuring professors Courtenay Conrad, Michael Dawson, Robin DeLugan and Nathan Monroe, who spoke about their experiences with open access and how it helps promote increased community and public engagement with research and scholarship. 

Many other UC Merced scholars are well acquainted with open-access publishing as both authors and readers. The library interviewed local faculty members and graduate students about the benefits of open access and partnered with University Communications to produce a series of short, informative testimonial videos.

Faculty share experiences via video 

Professors David Ardell, Miriam Barlow, Francois Blanchette, Wei-Chun Chin, Ignacio Lopez-Calvo and Lin Tian, as well as graduate student Drew Abney, describe in the videos how scholars and the public benefit from open access, including broader dissemination of research, fast and comprehensive feedback from reviewers and the ability to reach highly specific audiences.

Several also commented on how publishing in open-access journals provides authors with valuable metrics, such as article downloads and shares, that measure the impact and influence of their research.

One concern among those interviewed was the cost associated with publishing in open-access journals, which can range from $1,000 to $3,000 per article. Publishing in fully open-access journals is one way to comply with the policy, but it is not the sole option for faculty members who are concerned about the financial burden of associated publishing charges.

An alternative is for authors to deposit their articles in eScholarship, the UC’s open-access repository. Authors can embargo an article for a set time period before making it open, or if publishers insist, authors can also opt out of the policy entirely by obtaining a waiver.

However, most publishers are well aware of the policy and rarely require authors to completely opt out.

As the UC Open Access policy takes effect at UC Merced this fall, the library is reaching out to faculty members directly to provide information and support. In addition, there’s a comprehensive website that includes policy FAQs, instructions on how to deposit articles in eScholarship and how to obtain a waiver or embargo.

Additional questions should be directed to Susan Mikkelsen, the UC Merced Library’s scholarly communications and instruction librarian.

Watch the Open Access Policy testimonial videos: