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US University OA Resolutions Omit Most Important Component

            ** apologies for cross-posting **

    [Preface: In case there is any doubt about it, I do not at all enjoy
    having always to play the role of carper and fault-finder. It
    sometimes reminds me of the old joke about the man at the
    psychiatrist's, doing the ink-blot test: The doctor asks him why
    he keeps reporting pornographic content and the patient replies
    "I can't help it doctor, if you keep showing me dirty pictures!"

    But even with that caveat I cannot but report what I see. To check
    whether it is just a mote in my eye, please review the statements
    cited below for yourself, in the light of what I am about to say.]

University Open Access (OA) Resolutions, even toothless, purely abstract
ones with no concrete policy proposals, are better than no University OA
Resolutions, one would have thought, just as some sort of NIH OA Policy is
better than none (one would have thought).

    "Please Don't Copy-Cat Clone NIH-12 Non-OA Policy!"

But, we must ask ourselves, is this really true, at a time when 100% OA is
fully within reach and already long overdue, with research access, usage,
impact and progress continuing to be needlessly lost, the loss compounded
daily, weekly, monthly, as we continue making false starts that miss the
point and keep heading us off in the wrong directions (and mostly no
direction at all)?

Of the two most recent in a series of University Resolutions and
Statements, Columbia's actually mentioned OA: "Resolution Concerning 'Open
   https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/1812.html whereas

whereas Berkeley's "Scholarly Publishing Statement of Principles" did not
even mention "Open Access" but only "alternative venues for scholarly
communication" and "retaining faculty control

What was missing from both was the core component of a targeted university
OA policy, the only component with the capacity to move universities to
100% OA rather than continuing to drift aimlessly, as they do now.

Of all the US University Statements and Resolutions, the only one that
does contain this all-important component (albeit in a needlessly
circuitous and somewhat hobbled form, because the part in square brackets
is at least 92% superfluous -- http://romeo.eprints.org/stats.php) is that
of the University of Kansas:

    "The University of Kansas Senate... Calls on all faculty of the
    University of Kansas to [seek amendments to publisher's copyright 
    transfer forms to permit the] 
        {1} deposit[ion of] a digital copy of every article accepted
        by a peer-reviewed journal into the ScholarWorks repository,
        or a similar open access venue... {and} to
        {2} invest in the infrastructure necessary to support new venues
        for peer-reviewed publication"

All the rest of the US university statements and resolutions so far fail
to mention self-archiving at all, going on and on instead about {3} the
high costs of journals, about {4} the (putative) need to reform copyright
and retain ownership, and about {5} the (putative) need to favor
"alternative publication venues" (by which is meant OA journals), not only
by helping to fund them (i.e., {2} above), but even by more favorably
evaluating the work that appears in them; and of course there is much
abstract and ideological praise for {6} the abstract principle of free(r)

Yet universities themselves are the providers of the very content for
which they are seeking Open Access (from one another!) in these Statements
and Resolutions. How long will they keep dancing around the blinkered idea
that it is intellectual property rights {4}, academic evaluation {5}, or
publishing itself {3} that they need to reform, when the key to 100% OA
lies in their very own hands?

The only thing universities need to do in order to make the content that
they themselves already provide openly accessible is to keep on publishing
it in journals exactly as they always have done, but in addition, to make
an online copy of it openly accessible to all would-be users webwide who
cannot afford the official published version -- by self-archiving a
supplementary draft of every published article in the university's own OA
eprint archive.

With 92% of journals having already given their green light to university
self-archiving it is nothing short of absurd to keep harping on retaining
copyright {4} and favoring "alternative venues" {5} instead of simply
adopting a policy of self-archiving all university journal article output:


The US Universities are travelling a well-worn path of false starts. The
path has been travelled by the UK Parliamentary Science and Technology
Select Committee, which started out with an equally diffuse initial
position but then successfully brought into focus on the optimal policy
recommendation (require self-archiving, encourage/support OA journals):

The Berlin Declaration likewise managed to get itself into focus recently
at the Berlin 3 conference in Southampton, on a policy recommendation that
was virtually identical to that of the UK Select Committee:

And of course the University of Kansas (along with 12 other universities
and research institutions worldwide) have also adopted a policy along the
lines of the UK and Berlin recommendations:


Let us hope that other universities (US and non-US) as well as research
institutions and research funders world-wide will not copy/clone diffuse
and directionless statements/resolutions such as Columbia's and Berkeley's
but instead include the critical concrete component {1} that will convey
us all at long last to the optimal and inevitable (and long overdue)
outcome for research, researchers, their institutions, their funders, and
their funders' funders, the tax-paying public: 100% OA

Stevan Harnad