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September 17, 2009

Five Major American Universities Commit to Support OA Journals

From Open Access News...

A Compact for Open-Access Publication, press release, September 14, 2009.

Five of the nation's premier institutions of higher learning—Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technoology, and the University of California, Berkeley—today announced their joint commitment to a compact for open-access publication. ...

Since open-access journals do not charge subscription or other access fees, they must cover their operating expenses through other sources, including subventions, in-kind support, or, in a sizable minority of cases, processing fees paid by or on behalf of authors for submission to or publication in the journal. While academic research institutions support traditional journals by paying their subscription fees, no analogous means of support has existed to underwrite the growing roster of fee-based open-access journals.

Stuart Shieber, Harvard's James O. Welch, Jr. and Virginia B. Welch Professor of Computer Science and Director of the University's Office for Scholarly Communication, is the author of the five-member compact. According to Shieber, "Universities and funding agencies ought to provide equitable support for open-access publishing by subsidizing the processing fees that faculty incur when contributing to open-access publications. Right now, these fees are relatively rare. But if the research community supports open-access publishing and it gains in importance as we believe that it will, those fees could aggregate substantially over time. The Compact ensures that support is available to eliminate these processing fees as a disincentive to open-access publishing."

The Compact supports equity of the business models by committing each university to the timely establishment of durable mechanisms for underwriting reasonable publication fees for open-access journal articles written by its faculty for which other institutions would not be expected to provide funds.

Additional universities are encouraged to visit the compact web site and sign on. ...

,,, the Compact's FAQ establishes a loophole for grant-funded research: "a compact institution may reasonably expect that ... the funding agency should be responsible for payment of the publication charge, and the article would not be eligible for underwriting by the institution whether or not the funding agency actually covers the particular charge."

Addendum: At the time this compact was signed, only Berkeley already had established an OA fund. But subsequently both Cornell and Harvard have also established OA funds to support the OA publishing of their faculty (follow links for additional information). It is expected that MIT and Dartmouth will announce OA funds eventually, too.

Currently the U of Illinois is a supporting member of BioMed Central, so our members get a discount on the publication fees when they publish in BMC journals. And we have a membership in Oxford's Nucleic Acids Research, which also provides our authors with a discount when publishing in NAR. If you have comments on whether the U of Illinois should join the Compact and set up an OA fund, please contact Paula Kaufman, the University Librarian.

Posted by Katie Newman at 10:42 AM