UC System To Offer Access to Academic Research This Fall

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The University of California has announced that on Nov. 1 it will release its academic research -- including health care-related findings -- online at no cost to the public, the Oakland Tribune/Contra Costa Times reports.

The 10-campus university system will be the largest in the world to publicly disclose its research without charging a subscription, according to the Tribune/Times (Murphy, Oakland Tribune/Contra Costa Times, 8/5).

The move comes after the Obama administration earlier this year directed heads of federal agencies to develop rules to publicly release the results of all federally funded research within one year of data being published in scientific or technical journals (California Healthline, 2/26).

Details of UC Policy

The new UC policy will apply to 8,000 faculty members and about 40,000 academic papers written annually.

UC faculty members will have the option to opt out of participating in the policy.

Christopher Kelty -- a UCLA information studies professor who helped draft the new policy -- said the initiative "sends a powerful message that faculty want open access, and they want it on terms that benefit the public and the future of research."

Potential Conflicts

Some observers say that publishers -- who oppose no-cost public access to such studies -- could require researchers to opt out of the initiative in order to be published.

In a blog post, Michael Eisen -- a UC-Berkeley biology professor -- wrote, "We can expect more and more publishers to demand opt-outs as the number of institutions with open/public access policies grows."

However, Kelty said that less than 5% of faculty members at other universities that have implemented similar policies have opted out.

Lawmakers Urge Open Access

Meanwhile, state Assembly members Mike Gatto (D-Burbank) and Brian Nestande (R-Palm Desert) have introduced a bill (AB 609) that calls for no-cost public access to all state-funded research.

"Taxpayers pay for this research, and we the people, we own it," Gatto said, adding that "it just makes sense to cut out the middlemen who charge taxpayers for something we already own."

However, Gatto said that the measure faces resistance in the Legislature because "publishers have fought it pretty hard" (Oakland Tribune/Contra Costa Times, 8/5).

Stevan Harnad
HOW TO MAKE THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA OA MANDATE WORK Aside from the default copyright-reservation mandate with opt-out, always add an immediate-deposit clause without opt-out. The deposit need not be immediately made OA, but it needs to be deposited in the institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication. While access to the deposit is embargoed, the repository can implement the eprint-request Button with which users can request and authors can provide the eprint with one keystroke each. Deposit should always be done directly by the author (or the author's personal designee: student, research assistant or secretary). It is a big mistake to "submit" the paper instead to the provost's office. At other universities with this style of mandate the provost's office has sat on papers for years instead of depositing them; this is even worse than publication lag or publishers' OA embargoes.
Hatti Hamlin
By publishers, I assume they mean those sacrosanct medical journals that are supposed to apply rigorous peer review? Those very same journals that have been found, time and again, to publish flawed, self serving research that ended up being withdrawn because it was shown to be not just inadvertently misleading, but in many cases actually fraudulent! Hooray to UC for not bowing to those interests! And, aren't we all sick of paying for research that ends up making millionaires of the researchers and drug or device makers, with not a penny coming back to the taxpayers who made it possible?

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