Archive for October, 2007

SSHRC Policy on Open Access

Christian Sylvain, the Director, Policy, Planning, and International Affairs of Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), made a presentation, Open Access and SSHRC, at Open Access: the New World of Research Communication, in Ottawa, October 12, 2007. (My thanks to Peter Suber, Background on the OA policy at the SSHRC, Open Access News, October 18, 2007, for a news item about this presentation).

This sentence in the abstract of the presentation caught my eye: “Discusses why SSHRC policy encourages rather than requires open access”. (See Policy Focus for SSHRC’s webpage about Open Access).

In the presentation by Christian Sylvain, there are two slides (slides 6 and 7 of 12) about the Open Access Consultation made, by SSHRC with the SS&H research community, from Aug to Oct 2005 (129 submissions received). Key findings included:

• Little knowledge of OA in general

• Lack of familiarity with institutional repositories, pre-print archives, moving wall access systems, creative commons licenses, etc.

• Concerns over financial viability of journals

• Ability for researchers to publish in international journals

• Nature and interoperability of repositories

Nobody disputed the logic of OA but no support for mandatory implementation”.

Why Not a More Aggressive Approach?

> To not undermine the sustainability of a great many SSH journals (most of which, unlike NSE and Health journals, are largely published by small not-for-profit publishers).

> To ensure that in the long-term the policy would make a difference (learn from Data Archiving Policy and Final Research Report)

So, what might have been learned from experience with the SSHRC Data Archiving Policy?

The SSHRC webpage about the SSHRC Research Data Archiving Policy was last updated on 21 September, 2007. Excerpt:

All research data collected with the use of SSHRC funds must be preserved and made available for use by others within a reasonable period of time. SSHRC considers “a reasonable period” to be within two years of the completion of the research project for which the data was collected.

For information about an evaluation of the SSHRC Data Archiving Policy, see: Data Archiving of Publicly Funded Research in Canada, by Carol Perry, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, University of Western Ontario, presented at the Access & Privacy Workshop 2006, Toronto, September 14, 2006. (For a brief summary of some of the results, see: Data Archiving of Publicly Funded Research in Canada, posted by Glen Newton, August 14, 2007).

A random sample of 173 SSHRC grant recipients from the 2004-2005 fiscal year was surveyed. The response rate was 75/173 = 43.3%. The results (on slide 5/11) indicated that 54/75 = 72% were not aware of SSHRC’s mandatory data archiving policy for all grant recipients. The results (on slide 7/11) also indicated that only 24/66 = 36% agreed with mandatory data archiving.

Impediments (slide 9/11):

•Lack of knowledge of government agreements & policies

•Ethical considerations/access by others

•Ethics board rules


•Cost of preparing data for archiving – who pays

•No current national data archive or data archive program in existence in Canada

What might have been learned from experience with the SSHRC Final Research Report (FFR)?

Some information about the development, implementation and validation of SSHRC’s web-based FRR is available via: Measuring the Outcomes of Funded Research, a presentation by Courtney F. Amo (SSHRC) at the AEA Annual Conference, November 5, 2004.

Lessons Learned (slide 16/18):

> Not going to solve the problem overnight

> Organizational commitment

> Importance of pre- testing, and pilot phase

• Validation of consultations

• Enhancements

> Consultations that make a difference

• Buy- in (e. g. staff and external community)

• Managing expectations

> Implementation

• Promotion

• Culture Change

The Next Steps proposed about Open Access and the SSHRC by Christian Sylvain (slide 11/12 of his presentation):

> Mainstream OA in the Aid to Scholarly Journals program
> Release more analytical reports
> Understand better the scholarly publication system and shifting role of lib., UPs, HEIs, learned societies, etc.
> Experiment with implementation (business models, nature of “article”, moving walls, etc.) and promote best practices
> Continue to work with other agencies, here and abroad
> Determine future role for SSHRC and nature of its OA Policy

A suggestion: SSHRC, although made wary because of scars inflicted as a result of previous efforts to implement mandated policies about Data Archiving and Final Research Reports, should take further steps toward the adoption of an Open Access mandate. One such step would be the establishment of an external Advisory Committee on Access to Research Outputs, analogous to the one established by CIHR.

A related issue that merits debate is the extent to which the host institutions of grantees could, or should, take responsibility for monitoring compliance with the mandated policies of funding agencies (including Open Access policies) and for taking steps to deal with any noncompliance by grantees located at those host institutions.


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CBCRA Policy on Open Access

Peter Suber’s SPARC Open Access Newsletter (Issue #100, August 2, 2006) includes a section entitled: The Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance (CBCRA) provides OA to the research it funds. Excerpts:

The CBCRA doesn’t mandate OA to its research, although it’s thinking about a mandate for the future. It simply tries to provide OA to all the CBCRA-funded research that it can. Instead of doing this by contract, at the time of funding, it does it by painstaking requests for permission sent to grantee-authors and their publishers after they have published research based on CBCRA funding. First it tracks down authors and asks them to sign a license. Then it contacts their publisher and asks for permission to post an OA copy of the article to the CBCRA repository. It doesn’t send its queries until at least 12 months after publication, when publishers are more likely to agree. When it gets no replies, it sends out its letters again.

Using this arduous method since February of this year, CBCRA has been able to provide OA to about 25% of its research. About 62% of authors and 70% of publishers have agreed to the OA proposition. It’s considering a mandate in part to enlarge its OA coverage to 100% and in part to reduce or eliminate the large administrative burden of permission-seeking


The Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance (CBCRA)

The CBRCA’s OA repository, hosted by the University of Toronto

The Spring/Summer 2007 edition [PDF] of CBCRA’s Breast Cancer Research Bulletin contains (on page 7/12), an item entitled: CBCRA Introduces Policy on Open Access. The text, in full:

CBCRA launched its Open Access Archive, hosted by University of Toronto Libraries, in May 2006. There are now more than 400 articles arising from CBCRA-funded research projects available on the site, which is linked to the Research Program page of the CBCRA website. The articles are grouped in the same six thematic categories that are used in our Research Portfolio.

CBCRA supports the underlying principle of Open Access: that the outputs of publicly funded research should be made available as widely and rapidly as possible. CBCRA expects this initiative to amplify the impact of the research on the generation of new knowledge, and on its practical applications. In addition, by providing unrestricted access to research outputs, the Alliance is supplying tangible evidence of the accountability of researchers to those who have sponsored the research and to the public.

This initiative clearly addresses two of CBCRA’s strategic goals: to publicize fi ndings of research funded by CBCRA and to develop CBCRA’s presence on the international stage, by making breast cancer research results available to anyone who has access to the Internet. The Archive also strives to ensure permanent preservation of the published research findings supported by CBCRA grants, organized in one location.

CBCRA’s policy on Open Access was adopted in April 2007 (see text box below).

The full text in the text box (note that the key word in the first sentence of the current policy is “requests”, not “requires”):

CBCRA Open Access Policy

CBCRA requests that grant holders supply an electronic copy of final, accepted manuscripts funded in whole or in part by CBCRA grants. These articles will be posted on the CBCRA Open Access Archive as soon as possible after publication. A publisher’s embargo period of up to six months will be permitted. The document must be either a publisher-generated PDF or the author’s final, accepted version, including changes introduced by the peer review process.

CBCRA encourages authors to retain copyright of their works whenever possible. Authors are encouraged to specify in the publisher’s copyright transfer agreement that they retain the right to make the article available in CBCRA’s Open Access Archive. Suggested wording:

The Journal acknowledges that the Author retains the right to provide a copy of the Publisher’s final version (preferred) OR the Author’s final version of the paper to CBCRA upon acceptance for publication or thereafter, for public archiving in the CBCRA Open Access Archive as soon as possible after publication.

CBCRA grant holders are asked to notify CBCRA by sending a copy of the signed agreement to

If authors are unable to negotiate an amendment to the copyright agreement, CBCRA will work with the Author and the publisher to license back specific rights to facilitate posting the article on the CBCRA Open Access Archive. Authors may download the CBCRA licence agreement form from the Research Program section of the CBCRA website.

This policy relates only to the CBCRA Open Access Archive. If an Author also deposits her/his article in another open access archive (such as PubMed Central or an institutional repository), it is expected that s/he will notify CBCRA via e-mail (

CBCRA has provisions in the grant application process to cover the cost of any article processing fees that may be charged for open access to publications in online journals.

Although it’s stated it the text of the policy that: “Authors may download the CBCRA licence agreement form from the Research Program section of the CBCRA website“, the licence agreement form hasn’t been posted yet at the CBCRA Research Program section. Janet Patterson, Communications Manager at CBCRA [Staff], kindly provided the information that the CBCRA website is under redevelopment, and when re-launched this fall (after the end of October) it will incorporate the licence agreement as a downloadable PDF. At that time, both the policy and the licence agreement will be prominently displayed.

The decision-making process of the CBCRA involves two stages: Firstly, the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) prepares recommendations. Secondly, these recommendations are submitted to the Board of Directors for approval. The Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the agencies that support the CBCRA: Avon Flame Foundation, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Canadian Breast Cancer Network, Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada and the National Cancer Institute of Canada.

The membership of the Research Advisory Committee 2006/2007 includes 11 researchers and 4 breast cancer survivors. It’s the RAC that recommended adoption of the CBCRA Open Access Policy.

A well-known advocate of mandated Open Access Policies is Stevan Harnad. He has argued that policies that involve “requests” (as contrasted with “requirements”) have little impact on researchers’ compliance with such policies. See, for example, Success Rate of the First of the Self-Archiving Mandates: Southampton ECS, Stevan Harnad, Open Access Archivangelism, September 30, 2007. Excerpt:

In the US, the proposed NIH self-archiving “public access” policy was downgraded from a mandate to a mere request; adopted in 2004, it has failed, miserably (deposit rate <5%).

Will the current CBCRA Open Access Policy have little success in persuading CBCRA-supported researchers to include their publications in the CBCRA Open Access Archive? Some time must pass before this question can be answered.

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