Posts Tagged SSHRC

Addressing the scandal of the knowledge divide

An essay by Jean-Claude Guédon, Open Access and the divide between “mainstream” and “peripheral” science, was posted recently (July 23, 2009) at Mesa Redonda sobre Patrimonio Intelectual y Conocimiento Libre. [Apparently, this is a website supported by the Government of Venezuela - Google translation from Spanish to English: "Roundtable on Intellectual Heritage and Free Knowledge"]. A short excerpt from the latter part of this interesting essay:

This paper identifies the facets of the Gold and Green Roads that make sense in addressing the scandal of the knowledge divide. It brings to light essentially two fundamental strategies: on the Gold side, fully subsidized journals that do not financially penalize authors from poor countries, or do not submit them to humiliating forms of pleading for special treatment are essential. On the Green side of Open Access, the way to create symbolic value in competition with what presently supports the divide barriers is to organize a coherent system of institutional and thematic repositories. The former are charged with collecting and preserving all that they can and want to preserve. It is through institutional repositories that depositing mandates should be implemented as mandates can originate from a variety of institutions with some political clout, universities, research centres and granting agencies among them. However, it is through thematic repositories that the (research) wheat can be separated from the chaff and it is through them that various forms of new and useful forms of symbolic value can be created.

This essay had been deposited previously, as an eprint of a book chapter, in the E-LIS repository. The eprint was last modified on November 19, 2008. The citation indicates that this book chapter was expected to be “forthcoming in 2007, in Portuguese“.

Blog items (apparently, about an earlier version of the eprint) were posted by Peter Suber (OA for mainstreaming peripheral science) on December 1, 2007 and by Heather Morrison (National open access journal subsidy) on December 1, 2007. The eprint has been cited on CiteULike, and a version is also available via Scribd, posted on August 18, 2008 (see:

The version posted at the Venezuelan site has generated some recent interest on FriendFeed. See, for example, (July 25, by Bill Hooker) and (July 27, by Bora Zivkovic). Recommendation from Bora Zivkovic: “[Essay] by Jean-Claude Guédon is a Must Read of the day“.

Comment: An excerpt from Heather Morrison’s blog post is noteworthy:

Scielo is an excellent example of what can be accomplished through a nationally subsidized open access program. While the Scielo portal encompasses the scholarly work of many latin countries, Brazil alone, in 2005, brought 160 fully open access journals to the world at a very modest cost of only $1 million dollars.

Canada is experimenting with subsidized open access journals, through the Aid to Open Access Journals program.

Note: The link to the webpage for SSHRC’s Aid to Open Access Journals program has been updated in the excerpt. This  program has been renamed the SSHRC Aid to Scholarly Journals program. See also: About SSHC > Policy Focus > Open Access.

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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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