BY MATT MCGREGOR
On 24 November, Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand invited representatives from across the New Zealand research sector to attend a meeting on the development of open access policies in research institutions.
The purpose of the meeting was to enable the sector to share knowledge and expertise, particularly following the passage of open access policies at Lincoln University and the Universities of Waikato and Canterbury. The ultimate aim of the meeting was to encourage the development of strong open access mandates, to ensure that a greater proportion of New Zealand’s publicly funded research is made openly available.
We had a great turnout from across the sector, with a healthy mix of librarians, administrators, advisors, advocates and researchers.
The meeting began with a short presentation by Fabiana Kubke, of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Auckland and Chair of the Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand Advisory Panel (her presentation slides are here).
After noting several outstanding issues with the current research system — including the reliance of academics on dubious metrics to determine research quality, as well as the amount of money spent by research institutions on copyright licensing and subscriptions — Fabiana pointed out that New Zealand is lagging behind its international counterparts in the adoption of open access policies and mandates.
At this point, the group discussed the importance of the Performance Based Research Funded in determining publication practices. One participant noted that the PBRF relied on expert peer review, and did not itself specify which metrics these experts should use to determine quality; Fabiana, for her part, suggested that the PBRF could nevertheless actively encourage open access. (See Creative Commons Aotearoa NZ’s submission to the 2013 review of the PBRF).
Fabiana also noted that the public discussion on open access has tended to focus on the ‘green/gold’ distinction. This distinction focuses on the means by which work becomes open — i.e. whether it is made open via a repository (green) or publisher (gold) — and overlooks the more important question of deciding how truly ‘open’ open access works should be.
The default for publicly funded academics, she argued, should be to make their works available as openly as possible, including the right to openly share and reuse. This will require academics to stop signing away their copyright to academic publishers.
Following this presentation, I gave a quick talk about the need for open licensing. I noted that if you don’t make your work openly available from the beginning, it’s likely to remain under ‘All Rights Reserved’ copyright for your entire life plus fifty years.
Open licensing, I argued, also: allows for greater educational reuse; enables work to be published in multiple venues, for multiple audiences; enables free translation; and lets people adapt and reuse your work in new and interesting ways. One participant asked if one could published in closed journals using CC licensing. I noted that some closed journals are becoming ‘hybrid’ by offering open access and CC licensing, sometimes for an article processing charge.
David Nichols from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Waikato then discussed the passage of Waikato’s open access mandate (explained in some detail in this case study). The development of the policy began with a public event, featuring several speakers (including Fabiana); after this event, David produced a detailed policy paper, outlining a range of different options for an institutional OA policy.
With University Librarian Ross Hallett, David brought this paper to various committees across the university, addressing and incorporating criticisms and concerns, with the university eventually settling on a policy of mediated deposit. This mediation enables the library to clarify rights on any particularly paper before deciding on what level of access to allow.
Danny Kingsley, formerly of the Australian Open Access Support Group and soon to be Head of Scholarly Communication at Cambridge University, then spoke about the development and implementation of — and compliance with — international open access policies. She began by pointing out that the best path forward is to mandate that the paper must be deposited into the institutional repository at the time of acceptance.
In her wide-ranging talk, she also noted that one cannot assume that academics have any great understanding of the scholarly publication process. She recommended working with liaison librarians, to speak to researchers on their own terms; she also recommended using incentives — such as analytics on use — to encourage deposits.
Danny mentioned the recent adoption of open policy by HEFCE and noted that compliance rates with existing OA policies in the UK are high (as outlined in this recent study, Counting the Costs).
One participant asked Danny about book publishing. Danny noted that books need different models for open access than journal articles, and that Knowledge Unlatched and other OA publishers are experimenting with these new models.
Emerson Vandy from the National Library of New Zealand followed Danny by introducing New Zealand’s existing repository technology. He explained that NZResearch.org.nz harvests from all of the university institutional repositories, and exists to make all research outputs as discoverable as possible. NZResearch also works for those researchers whose institution doesn’t have access to a repository. After discussing user analytics, Emerson noted that the Library would appreciate direction from universities as to what to do with NZResearch in the future.
Next up was Alison Stringer, from the Ministry for the Environment, who spoke about open data. She noted that public expectations around data are changing, and that users have much more focus on openness and collaboration, with reduced tolerance for embargo periods. She also noted that open data commitments can help researchers build a Return on Investment case for their research projects. She noted, though, that for data to be useful, researchers needed to adopt strong data management plans.
Alison pointed out that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has adopted a strong open access policy; she also noted that the National Science Challenges do not mandate openness.
One participant asked about Crown Research Institutes, and Alison noted that they have dual functions — for the public good, and for a commercial return — which can sometimes be in conflict. IP policies at CRIs are often geared towards the latter. With multiple funders of research projects, it can also be difficult to establish which datasets are publicly funded and which are privately funded.
At the end of the session, participants discussed progress made at their respective institutions. The session concluded with a general agreement on the benefits of sharing experiences and information as OA policies and mandates are adopted across the rest of the research sector. There was a general agreement to hold more focused sessions again in 2015.