How to implement OA policies at institutions
Research policy institutions (funding bodies, public agencies, ministries, etc.) play a key role in the development and spread of research practices. In that sense they are pivotal actors in facilitating the transition towards Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), promoting not only the inclusion of different stakeholders in the process of knowledge construction but also the idea and practice of shared responsibility. The implementation of such an approach can be extremely relevant when the aim is to create a connection between society’s needs, obstacles and values and R&I’s agenda and results. In other words, institutions can –to different degrees and at different levels— create a favourable context that supports individuals’ RRI practices.
Research funding institutions develop indications, guidelines and policies as a way to guide and direct researchers’ activities. These documents express an institution’s positions on several issues, including open access (OA), and outline a guide, more or less strict, for researchers.
If you are approaching OA for the first time and are looking for a general overview of this issue, check out PASTEUR4OA. This is a good place to start because it has a number of recommendations for, and examples of, policies implemented at the national level. Further detail can be found in the Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARMAP) as well as OpenAire and JULIET. The latter can be also used to notify others of a new policy. You might also review exemplar cases like the Harvard OA Project or the Princeton University Open Access Policy.
After developing a clearer picture of what is out there and what you wish for your organisation, you might decide to focus on the Green route and, in particular, on the development of your own repository as a core element of your policy. An interesting resource for this is OpenAire’s introduction for research admins. Although the Green route clearly implies the participation of research organisations, there are other ways for interested institutions to facilitate OA practices. For example, one alternative is the Gold route, where researchers or institutions pay for publishing and open access. Reasons to support the this route can be found in the Finch report, and ways to do so are represented by the activity of institutions like the Wellcome Trust, which proposes possible agreements with publishers to facilitate researchers’ practice of the Gold route. If as an organisation you prefer to not take a specific position, letting researchers freely decide how to practice OA, review the Fondazione Cariplo OA Policy for an example.
When developing and writing your process, check out the UNESCO Policy Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Open Access. This useful tool provides a step-by-step guide through the policy-creating process. Of course these guidelines contain many generalisations; it is advisable to consider your local normative context and the specific requirements for your country.
If you have already implemented an OA policy, you are ready to monitor its effectiveness. The Pasteur4OA document Monitoring Compliance with Open Access Policies proposes useful information for monitoring, as does the Open Access Monitor, a new module that simplifies OA policy compliance for research institutions.
Moving towards OA or developing new OA policies
Both research funders and research institutions can use the resources listed above, but they each act at different levels and might push different levers to foster OA implementation. Indeed, the very nature and role of research funders puts these organisations in position to develop programmes for covering OA publishing costs. The Wellcome Trust OA guides provide examples of how this can done. For exemplars of OA policies developed by funder organisations, consult the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Open Access Policy as well as the NIH’s policy.
Institutions interested in sharing their data and metadata might want to check the EU’s RECODE project, which has information about available data sharing policies. Similarly, the Open Access Directory (OAD) provides information about open data policies, including case studies and guidelines as well as links to institutional open data policies. Examples and information about available repositories for data sharing can be found at OAD's Data Repositories and Nature’s Recommended Data Repositories.
Lastly, grant making organisations that wish to see how other institutions have embedded their OA policies to achieve different aims can see examples in Fondazione Cariplo research calls as well as in Wellcome Trust's approach to supporting and funding OA publishing costs.
How to incorporate OA in research practice
Researchers intending to embed open access (OA) in their research activity
Researchers have a core interest in publishing articles in academic journals. Articles represent a crucial source of information and data, and they remain a primary route through which research findings are communicated. Furthermore, publications are becoming more and more relevant for evaluating researchers’ academic performance, securing tenure positions and funds, and fostering careers. However, over the past few decades a number of alternative opportunities to traditional publications have been gradually emerging. Though there are many arguments for and against the traditional pay-to-read publication system, recent increases in subscription fees and, in parallel, society’s increasing demand for information have been forcing people to think about who should pay publishing costs. A popular argument asks: If citizens already pay the costs for public research, should they also pay to access its results (i.e., articles)?
Individual researchers, professors, lecturers, research assistants, and students interested in practicing OA can get an overview on what open access is and what opportunities are available to practice it by checking out OpenAire, Horizon 2020's OA fact sheet, or this PhD Comics video. A different way to approach the same issue would be to attend some of the many events held during SPARC's annual International OA Week.
If you are already informed and you prefer the Gold route to OA, you can find valuable information in DOAJ and DOAB, where there is a complete list of fully OA journals and ebooks, respectively. If you are interested in practicing the Green route, you can find a list of main repositories at OpenDOAR. Hybrid forms of OA are also possible, and they are growing in importance. The SPARC project explores this issue in detail.
Clearly, a number of legal and normative issues about OA must be considered. Researchers can consult RoMEO, a one-year project that was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee and charged with reporting on the UK's self-archiving practices under the Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. Another option is adopting Creative Commons licenses to protect data and facilitate the correct dissemination of research results.
Research Institutions moving towards OA or interested in learning more about its opportunities
Higher education institutions are at the centre of knowledge construction processes, and thus their decisions are especially important for societies’ futures and are influential in researchers’ practices. Research institutions interested in OA can get useful information on the state of the art in implementing OA in the EU by consulting the European Commission’s factsheet on open access. In addition, Nature's article on the costs of OA publishing, and many other articles about OA, might be a useful starting point for reflecting on whether practicing OA is a valid option.
To learn more about current practices and available scenarios, mandates and policies adopted by universities, research institutions and research funders, check out the Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARMAP), the OpenAire project and the JULIET database. The latter can be also used to notify others about a new policy.
As research institutions move towards OA, they may need to reflect on developing programmes to educate their researcher communities. It might be helpful to consult the Foster project, which provides useful information about open access and open science courses. Or institutions might be interested in making changes to their evaluation strategies. This is a tricky issue to address, but a number of institutions have made attempts (see, e.g., Science in Transition Netherlands or PLOS Medicine).
Institutions interested in sharing their data and metadata can consult the EU project How to Implement OA Policies at Institutions How to Implement OA Policies at Institutions, where they can find information about available data sharing policies. Similarly, the Open Access Directory (OAD) provides links to information about open data policies, including case studies and guidelines, and links to institutional open data policies themselves. Examples and information about available data sharing repositories can be found in the OAD or at Nature.
For more detail on these issues, check out the How to Implement OA Policies at Institutions How to Implement OA Policies at Institutions page in this Toolkit.
Business companies approaching OA
Open access might not be your first thought if you are working in a commercial company. However, R&I is becoming more and more open, and its key role in guaranteeing success is undeniable. Many opportunities and strategies exist for developing collaborative research and facilitating open innovation. Check out the Open Innovation website, which provides a lot of information on the current state of open innovation. You may also find it useful to learn more about new digital platforms (see the EC’s publication on improving knowledge transfer across Europe and the 2015 Open Innovation 2.0 Conference summary).
Policy makers interested in learning, advocating and embedding OA in their activities
Policy makers play an important role in making open access a practice shared among local, national and international communities. Having policy makers’ support (or not) could make a difference in institutional and individual decisions to practice OA (or not). Thus, it is crucial for policy makers to make informed decisions on this issue. OA raises a number of issues and questions, and a number of actions could be made in response –from whether to develop an OA policy, to the content of that policy, to broader reflections over the impact of OA in the practice and evaluation of research and researchers. If you are interested in developing a policy, a good place to start is the How to Implement OA Policies at Institutions section in this Toolkit.
As a policy maker, you may want to reflect on advocating and disseminating OA without necessarily developing your own policy. In this case you might want to consult the Finnish Open Science Initiative, which provides a list of the guidelines and checklists for policy makers and researchers on how to spread OA practices. Similar input is available from the FOSTER project.
Lastly, if you are interested in engaging in broader reflections on the opportunities and impacts of OA practices in evaluating research, one place to start would be the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, which well represents the complexity of this issue. The declaration signals the need to stop using journal impact factors to assess the quality of individual papers, while also recognising researchers’ inertia and reluctance to move away from traditional journals.
Moving from open access to open science