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URI Open Access Policy: Frequently Asked Questions

This guide contains instructions for complying with the URI Open Access Policy as well as background information on the Policy.

FAQ's: purpose and aim of the policy

What does this policy do in plain English?

Through the University of Rhode Island Open Access Policy, University of Rhode Island faculty authors granted the University a nonexclusive license "to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles, in any medium, provided that the articles are not sold, and to authorize others to do the same."

In copyright terminology, a license is a grant of permission to exercise your rights under copyright. When you give someone a nonexclusive license, you give the licensee permission to exercise the rights in question, but you also reserve the right to continue exercising these rights yourself and to authorize others to do so.

Thus, through the Policy, you have not given the University your copyright; you have simply granted the University permission to exercise your rights under copyright. You retain the copyright in your scholarly articles. And the permissions you have granted to URI do not prevent you from granting permissions to others, including transferring your copyright to a publisher.

In practice, you have given the University permission to reproduce, display, and distribute your articles as long as the articles are not sold, including permission to make open access versions of your articles available in URI's institutional repository, DigitalCommons@URI. The Policy also allows the University to authorize others to use the articles as long as the articles are not sold.

For example, researchers may use the articles for data mining, and instructors at other institutions may use the articles as course readings. The Policy in effect transfers rights in copyright back to you for similar uses, thus allowing you to retain your rights even if you have transferred your copyright to a publisher.

While the nonexclusive license that faculty authors have granted to the University covers all rights in copyright, the articles made available through DigitalCommons@URI are subject to Terms of Use that limit some of these rights, for example the right to make derivative works (e.g. translations, adaptations, compilations).

 

Okay, I know what copyright is, but this is a little confusing. Remind me of the details? 

Copyright is a form of protection granted to authors that provides them, for a limited period of time, with certain exclusive rights. These rights are intended to encourage authors to create, thereby providing society with valuable works. 

In fact, copyright is not a single right, but a bundle of rights, including the rights to:

  • Produce copies or reproductions of the work and sell those copies
  • Publish the work
  • Create derivative works (works that adapt the original work, e.g. translations)
  • Perform or display the work publicly
  • Transmit or display the work by radio or video
  • Sell or assign these rights to others

As academic authors, when we transfer all of our rights in copyright to a publisher, we lose the ability to freely share our with with others to read and use (which is our primary motivation for creating scholarly works.)

Why was the policy implemented?

On March 21, 2013, the University of Rhode Island Faculty Senate, on behalf of URI faculty, unanimously approved the University of Rhode Island Open Access Policy. The Policy provides a legal basis for the University to preserve the work of its scholars and to provide access to that work to anyone who seeks it. The goal of the Policy is expressed in the first line: "The Faculty of the University of Rhode Island is committed to disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible."

The Policy advanced URI's Academic Plan 2010-2015, which called for "developing the DigitalCommons@URI platform into a showcase of research for the purpose of preservation, sharing, and promotion of URI research." The Policy also furthers the 2016-2021 Academic Plan, which includes actions to "advance digital initiatives, the Digital Commons, and open access within the University Libraries..." (p. 12) and to "improve publicity, marketing, and sharing of faculty and student research to key stakeholders within and outside the University across multiple media outlets and open access and digital commons" (p. 14).

Open access policies are part of a rapidly growing movement in academia to make research and scholarship more accessible to scholars, educators, policymakers, and citizens worldwide.

 

What are the advantages for faculty authors?

The Internet has enabled individual faculty authors to make their articles widely, openly, and freely available. Research has repeatedly shown that articles available freely online are more often cited and have greater impact than those not freely available, and this trend is increasing over time. Consequently, many faculty already make their writings available on their web pages, sometimes in violation of copyright law. URI's Open Access Policy provides a legal mechanism for faculty authors to make their writings openly accessible, and it enables the University to help them do so. In effect, the Policy actually allows faculty authors to retain their rights in their articles, because the University grants those rights back to them.

 

Why require this? Why did we not just suggest that faculty individually retain the rights to post their work in DigitalCommons@URI?

We did, in fact. On January 31, 2008, the URI Faculty Senate passed a resolution that, in part, strongly urged "all faculty to deposit preprint or postprint copies of articles in an open access repository such as discipline-specific repositories or the University of Rhode Island's Digital Commons Repository."

However, experience has shown that "opt-in" systems have little effect on authors' behavior. For instance, before Congress made it a requirement in 2008, participation in the NIH Public Access Policy, which took effect in 2005, was optional. Before 2008, compliance was under 20%; as of 2014, the compliance rate was over 80%. On the other hand, "opt-out" systems, such as the URI Open Access Policy, achieve much higher degrees of participation, even while remaining non-coercive through the option of seeking a waiver.

Also, a blanket policy provides the benefit of unified action. Individual authors do not need to negotiate directly with publishers, since the policy makes it possible for the University to work with publishers on behalf of faculty authors.

 

Have other institutions adopted this kind of policy?

Yes. The Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences pioneered this type of policy in 2008. Since then, other schools at Harvard have adopted similar policies, as have faculty at a number of other institutions large and small, public and private. These include: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Kansas, Oberlin College, Duke University, the University of Hawaii-Manoa, Emory University, Princeton University, Utah State University, Rutgers University, Wellesley College, Amherst College, Oregon State University, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the California Institute of Technology, and the entire University of California system, to name a few. Moreover, of these examples, faculty voted for the policy unanimously in many cases (including at URI).

Research funders are supporting similar efforts. For example, the National Institutes of Health have for several years required the posting in an open access repository of articles derived from research they fund, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as well as the Wellcome Trust require any scholarly articles on research they fund to be made openly accessible. In January 2014, the European Commission will require articles produced with funding from Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation funding program for 2014-2020, to be made open access by the publisher immediately upon publication or to be deposited in a repository and made open access no later than 6-12 months after publication. On Feburary 22, 2013, the Obama administration issued a directive that will require all federal agencies with annual research and development budgets of $100 million or more to make articles reporting on the results of this research open access after a 12 month embargo period.

ROARMAP lists well over 200 open access policies adopted by academic institutions, departments, and research funders worldwide.

FAQ's: complying with the policy

I'm busy. What do I have to do to comply with this policy? How much time will it take?

The Policy operates automatically to give URI a nonexclusive license in any scholarly articles faculty members complete after its adoption. To be thorough, it is recommended that faculty authors add an addendum to the publisher's copyright agreement for each article stating that the agreement is subject to a prior license. That way, you will avoid agreeing to give the publisher rights that are inconsistent with the prior license given to URI. That being said, our outreach efforts have informed most publishers that the policy is in effect, so your publisher should already be aware that any transfer of copyright to them of an article written by a URI faculty member is subject to this prior, non-exclusive license. Whether or not you use the addendum, the license to URI will still have force.

Papers should be submitted for deposit to DigitalCommons@URI by the date of publication. To submit a paper, email your final author manuscript, post-peer review, to oapolicy@etal.uri.edu. Include any supplementary material that you would like to accompany your scholarly article, for example, illustrations, figures, media files, and small data sets. Current calculations are that the handling of the policy requirements will take no more than 15-20 minutes per publication.

The overall intention of the Policy is that a relatively small investment of time can greatly increase the overall accessibility and impact of your scholarship.

 

Will being subject to this policy prevent my work from being accepted by the top journals in my field?

A journal's decision to accept your work for publication is made by the journal's editors and peer reviewers, scholars like you. This decision is independent of the "business" side of the journal and usually takes place before you are asked to sign a publication agreement. So no, being subject to the policy will not prevent your work from being accepted in a journal. Any objections to the policy would come from the publisher.

 

What if a journal refuses to publish my article because of this policy?

Given the experience of other institutions with similar open access policies, this does not happen often, but it can happen. In this case we recommend that you obtain a no-questions-asked waiver of the Policy and proceed with having your paper published in the journal.

 

My article was just accepted in a journal and the publisher is offering to make my article available open access if I pay a fee. Should I do this?

There is no need to pay a subscription-based journal that, for a fee, allows an author to publish his or her article open access. Why pay when you can achieve the same result by complying with the University of Rhode Island Open Access Policy and submitting your final, peer-reviewed manuscript for deposit in DigitalCommons@URI?

Subscription-funded journals that also collect author-side fees to publish articles open access are known as "hybrid" journals. Among others, Harvard's Stuart Shieber argues that supporting hybrid journals will not lead to needed changes in the system of scholarly communication (see his blog post "Why not underwrite hybrid fees?").

If you have funding to pay for open access article processing charges, choose a fully open access journal, not a hybrid. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a comprehensive directory of "all open access scientific and scholarly journals that use a quality control system to guarantee the content." Faculty who want to publish in open access journals and who do not have other sources of funding (e.g. a grant) to cover open access publication fees may apply for support from the URI Open Access Fund.

 

I already post the PDFs of my articles to my personal website / ResearchGate / Academia.edu. Why should I bother also submitting my author manuscripts for inclusion in DigitalCommons@URI?

It’s great that you value the principles of open access such that you take the time to share your work freely with the world. However, unless your publication agreement allowed you to retain copyright, by posting your article online you are violating the copyright in the article held by your publisher. We know that the copyright system is not set up to advance the interests of most academic authors, and that not being able to post our own work is counter-intuitive, frustrating, and “unfair,” but the law is still the law, and there is some degree of risk involved in your actions, even if the risk is small.

In short, posting your articles in this way is an individualistic response to the much broader problem of the inaccessibility of published scholarship. On the other hand, the URI Open Access Policy is a policy response that makes it possible for the university as an institution to help you make your work openly available, and to do so in a legal manner.

Finally, it is worth noting that libraries have been around for thousands of years and are committed to the preservation of, and access to, the human record. Who knows how long ResearchGate, Academia.edu, or even your own website will survive?

 

What should I do if my article contains copyrighted images (or other materials)? Do I need to seek additional permission from the copyright holder to post the article in DigitalCommons@URI?

It depends on the permission rights you or your publisher agreed to for the use of the copyrighted materials. If you have negotiated a broad right to reproduce the images (or other materials) online, then you can likely deposit your article in DigitalCommons@URI. The permission should allow the material to be used as part of the article in all forms and media, including, without limitation, in publicly accessible electronic repositories.

You may also be able to rely on fair use (see principle six, p.23). For questions about the fair use of images, see the Statement of the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study, by the Visual Resources Association and the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts from the College Art Association. Additional guidance (e.g. for film and media studies) is available from our Fair Use LibGuide.

If you do not have adequate permission rights and you feel that fair use does not apply, you can negotiate for additional rights, seek a waiver of the Open Access Policy for that article, or deposit a version of the article that does not include the copyrighted materials.

FAQ's: scope of the policy

What kinds of writings does the policy apply to?

Only "scholarly articles." In the language of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, scholarly articles are articles that describe the fruits of research and that authors give to the world for the sake of inquiry and knowledge without expectation of payment. Such articles are typically presented in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and conference proceedings.

Many of the written products of faculty are not encompassed in this notion of scholarly article, including: books, popular articles, commissioned articles, fiction and poetry, encyclopedia entries, emphemeral writings, lecture notes, lecture videos, or other copyrighted works. The policy does not address these kinds of works.

 

Can I deposit other types of scholarly materials in DigitalCommons@URI if I want to?

While the Open Access Policy only applies to scholarly articles, other deposits are welcome, if copyright allows. Contact Library Digital Initiatives at digitalcommons@etal.uri.edu for more information.

 

Does the policy apply to previous articles I've written?

The Policy does not apply to articles that were completed before President Dooley approved the Policy on May 2, 2013 or to any articles for which you entered into an incompatible publishing agreement before this date. The policy also does not apply to any articles you write if you are no longer affiliated with URI. However, if you are interested in posting older articles and the publishers' policies allow for author self-archiving, older material is welcome. For more information, contact Library Digital Initiatives at digitalcommons@etal.uri.edu.

 

I often collaborate with colleagues at other institutions. Does the policy apply to co-authored articles?

Yes. Each joint author of an article holds copyright in the article and individually has the authority to have granted to URI a nonexclusive license. Therefore, if any co-author of an article is a URI faculty member, that person should comply with the Policy.

 

What if my co-author objects to depositing our article in DigitalCommons@URI?

If a co-author has concerns about depositing your joint work in DigitalCommons@URI, you may obtain a waiver to prevent any complications. However, as more universities adopt open access policies, you may find that your co-author is subject to a similar policy. In this case, you may deposit the article at both institutions.

FAQ's: article version targeted by the policy

What version of the article is submitted under the Open Access Policy?

The author's final version of the article: This is the author's manuscript including any changes made as a result of the peer review process, but prior to the publisher's copy-editing, formatting, and branding. You may submit your manuscript in Word or PDF format.

The Policy targets the author's final peer-reviewed manuscript because most publishers prefer this arrangement, and the University wants to encourage cooperation and partnership with publishers in the implementation of the Policy.

Note that DigitalCommons@URI can accommodate supplementary material that accompanies your scholarly articles. Examples include illustrations, figures, media files, and small data sets. These can be submitted as separate files.

 

But the publisher often makes additional changes to my final manuscript as submitted. The version in DigitalCommons@URI will be different from the final published version.

As Harvard's Stuart Shieber has explained, it is helpful to think of the version of the article in DigitalCommons@URI not as a substitute for the final published version, but as an advertisement for it. DigitalCommons@URI will always include a full citation to the version of record and a hyperlink to the article on the publisher's web site. People can read your article in DigitalCommons@URI, and some readers can link through to the publisher site to view and cite the version of record. Keep in mind, though, that many who read the version of your article in the repository will have no access to the publisher version and would not otherwise be able to read the article at all.

Note also that while a publisher might edit your article for style, grammar, and punctuation, these are minor changes that do not (and should not) affect the article's intellectual content. One 2016 study that used textual analysis to compare pre-prints on ArXiv to final published articles concluded that "the text contents of the scientific papers generally changed very little from their pre-print to final published versions." A more informal 2011 examination comparing manuscripts in Harvard's DASH repository with final published articles found that "the vast majority of changes made were for the sake of enforcing a house formatting style and cleaning up a variety of inconsistencies and infelicities, none of which reached into the substance of the writing or affected the meaning other than by adding a bit more clarity here and there." For more on this, including how the typesetting and copyediting process occasionally introduces errors into papers, see Stuart Shieber's blog post, "The benefits of copyediting."

While it's true that in a perfect world, the final published version would be openly available, we're not there yet. As an alternative, depositing your author manuscript in a repository allows you and your readers to get the benefit of open access even if the version of record is locked behind a paywall.

 

What if the journal allows the publisher PDF to be archived in an institutional repository? Can we submit the final published version in that case?

Although the Open Access Policy targets the author's final version of the article for deposit, in cases when an article is published in an open access journal with a license (e.g. CC-BY or CC-BY-NC) that is more permissive than the standard Terms of Use for Open Access Policy Articles, the final publisher PDF version can be deposited instead.

If the publisher's license is less permissive (e.g. All Rights Reserved) than the standard Terms of Use for Open Access Policy Articles, then the author's manuscript is preferred (even if the publisher allows their PDFs to be deposited).

Please contact oapolicy@etal.uri.edu with any questions.

FAQ's: opting out (obtaining a waiver)

Explain the waiver provision. 

The Policy allows a faculty author, for any reason at all, to opt out of the provisions of the Policy for an individual article, with no questions asked. See the Get a Waiver tab of this guide.

 

Why does the policy include a waiver provision? Doesn't that undermine the policy? 

Allowing authors to opt out of the Policy preseves their academic freedom to publish in journals that refuse to accommodate the Policy; this is especially important for junior faculty. Even with the opt-out option, the Policy changes the default for authors' rights. The status quo now is that the University has the rights to make articles authored by its faculty available open access to the world, and the University can grant these rights back to faculty authors for their own use. 

For more on waivers, see Stuart Shieber's blog post, "University open-access policies as mandates."

FAQ's: academic freedom & faculty rights

Does this policy require me to publish in open access journals?

No. The Policy applies to journal publications but does not in any way dictate in which journals URI faculty must publish. You should choose the best forum for your research based on whatever criteria are most relevant. Depending on your discipline, you may or may not find an open access journal that meets your criteria, but whether or not to publish in one is entirely your choice.

If you are interested in exploring open access journals in your field, consult the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), a comprehesive directory of "all open access scientific and scholarly journals that use a quality control system to guarantee the content."

 

Is the University trying to take the rights to my scholarship? 

No. The nonexclusive license granted to URI under the Policy is not an assignment or transfer of copyright. It is simply permission from you, as the copyright holder, to make certain uses of your scholarly articles. You as the author still retain ownership and complete control of the copyright in your articles, subject only to this prior permission. You can exercise your copyrights in any way you see fit, including transferring them to a publisher if you so desire. However, if you do so, URI retains the right to distribute your articles from DigitalCommons@URI and to exercise other rights under copyright, including reproducing, displaying, and distributing the articles, as long as the articles are not sold.

Licensing this broad set of rights to the University essentially allows faculty to retain their rights in copyright, since the University can grant these rights back to them. The Policy is, in effect, a strategy for faculty authors to use the University to help them retain their rights.

 

Isn't the policy a threat to academic freedom? 

The Policy does not affect your academic freedom—rather, it helps you protect your rights as an academic. The Open Access Policy has nothing to do with your choice of topic, methods, or arena of your research, or where you choose to publish. However, when you do publish, the Policy assists you in retaining rights to your intellectual property, instead of transferring all of those rights to a publisher.

 

How will this policy affect the promotion & tenure review process? 

The Policy should help faculty in their bid for promotion and tenure. Studies show a large citation advantage for open access articles ranging from 45% to over 500%. The availability of articles in DigitalCommons@URI will make it easier for peers and administrators to access and evaluate the body of a particular faculty member's work. And, if an important journal will not cooperate with the Policy, a faculty member can rely on the no-questions asked waiver option to publish in their journal of choice.

For more information, SPARC Europe maintains a list of studies on whether or not there is a citation advantage for Open Access articles. 

 

Who is responsible for administering the policy? 

In the interest of implementing and administering the Policy with faculty interests at heart, the Faculty Senate has revised the charge of the Faculty Senate Library Committee to include administering the policy. The Faculty Senate Library Committee has been charged with serving "in an advisory capacity to the Faculty Senate regarding the implementation and interpretation of the University of Rhode Island Open-Access Policy, resolving disputes concerning the interpretation and application of the policy, and recommending changes in the policy to the Faculty Senate." The charge to the Library Committee appears in Section 4.50 of Appendix C of the University Manual: By-Laws of the Faculty Senate.

FAQ's: what will be done with the articles

What will be done with the articles?

The University Libraries will continue to operate its open access repository, DigitalCommons@URI, to make available the scholary articles provided under the policy. The repository has institutional backing to ensure its availability, longevity, and functionality, to the extent technologically feasible. Bepress, the vendor of DigitalCommons software, sees to it that the repository is backed up, mirrored, and made open to harvesting by search services such as GoogleScholar and OAIster.

 

How might my work be used after deposit?

DigitalCommons@URI makes Open Access Policy content available under Terms of Use modeled on those developed at Harvard. These Terms of Use allow for articles to be used, reproduced, distributed, and displayed for personal study, teaching, research and scholarship, and the provision of value-added services (e.g. full-text searching and citation extraction). Articles may not be sold, nor may they be displayed on any page where advertising appears. For all uses, an article's authors, title, reference to the Terms of Use, and any copyright notices must remain with the article, and a citation and link to the publisher's version of record must be included. Derivative works (e.g. translations, adaptations, compilations) are prohibited.

For example, instructors at other institutions could use Open Access Policy articles as assigned readings in their classes. Similarly, articles could be used in a coursepack, as long as the coursepack is not sold. It is conceivable that URI could authorize use of the articles in a commercial service that provides information extracted from the articles (but not the full text itself), such as bibliographic data, citation lists, and other information generated through text mining. Any arrangements URI agreed to would respect the integrity of faculty authors' work and be consistent with the goal of open access and ensuring wide visibility and availability of scholarly articles. Requests for permission to use an article for purposes other than those allowed by the Terms of Use would be addressed by the Faculty Senate through the Faculty Senate Library Committee, in consultation with the author of the article when at all possible.

It is worth noting that while many publishers currently allow authors to self-archive a version of their article in an institutional repository, the Open Access Policy allows for additional uses as detailed above.

 

Would the policy make my work vulnerable to piracy or plagiarism?

The Policy creates an open access version of a scholarly article covered by copyright. All of the rights and duties that exist with traditional publication remain in the case of an open access version, including the ability to prosecute for copyright violations and misuse. If anything, open access deters piracy by allowing access to a freely available version of an article that might otherwise be distributed unlawfully.

The potential for plagiarism increases with digital access to content, whether access is open or not. However, open access deters plagiarism by making it more detectable, since open access sources are widely indexed in search engines.

FAQ's: impact on the scholarly publishing environment

Won't having their articles available for free through open access repositories harm journals? I'm especially concerned about the effect the policy will have on scholarly societies and smaller publishers.

There is no empirical evidence that open access through article repositories leads to journal cancellations. The major societies in physics have not seen any impact on their publishing programs despite the fact that for more than ten years an open access repository (ArXiv) has been making available nearly all of the High Energy Physics literature written during that period. In fact, most publishers currently allow authors to self-archive in a repository; if they found that this practice triggered cancellations, they would change their policies. Some subscription journals have found that open access to their articles actually increases submissions and subscriptions. 

Even if there is eventually downward pressure on journal prices over time due to open access repositories, the publishers with the most inflated prices (which tend to be commercial publishers) will feel the effects sooner. The greatest threat of cancellation for subscription journals comes not from open access but from the journals' own price increases, which over the past 20 years have increased far more than the rate of inflation.

The intent of open access policies is not to destroy journals. In an open access world, journals will still be needed for their value-added services, such as coordinating peer review, copyediting, typesetting, and maintaining web sites.

Finally, it is important to remember that publishers who are genuinely concerned about the impact of open access policies on their subscription base have the remedy in their own hands: They can require a waiver. Few do.

For more on scholarly societies and open access, see Stuart Shieber's blog post, "Why open access is better for scholarly societies."

For more on whether open access through repositories leads to journal cancellations, see the updated notes to pages 151, 152, and 157 of Peter Suber's book Open Access (2012).

 

Is the policy a threat to peer review?

The Policy has no effect on the peer review process. It explicitly applies to scholarly articles, most of which are assumed to be peer reviewed. And the Policy does not come into effect until after your paper is reviewed and accepted for publication.

 

Won't this lead to a proliferation of article versions and confusion over citation? Will my citation count be split between multiple versions?

With or without the Policy, the academic community will need to work on the problem of version control in digital scholarship. There are technical and standards-based solutions that will address this problem.

Meanwhile, all articles posted to DigitalCommons@URI will include a complete citation and hyperlink to the publisher's version of record. You will receive a monthly email with the number of times your articles have been downloaded from the repository.

While it is conceivable that downloads of your articles from DigitalCommons@URI may decrease the total number of downloads from the publisher's site, it is important to remember that open access will increase the overall number of citations to your work. Even if downloads and citations are split between more than one version of your article, the overall impact of each article will be greater than if it were sequestered behind a journal pay wall. Many who cite the open access version of your article will have no access to the publisher's paid version and, if not for the open access version, might not have read your work at all.

 

Does the policy interfere with a publisher's ability to serve as an intellectual steward for articles it publishes, for instance by pursuing illegal copying or plagiarism?

The Policy does not prevent publishers from acquiring exclusive rights under copyright (subject to the prior nonexclusive license to URI), and publishers may still enforce those rights in any way they see fit. Publishers may even pursue infringements of moral rights on behalf of authors (e.g. cases of plagiarism). The nonexclusive license to URI does not undermine publishers' ability to support authors in this way.

Contact information

The University of Rhode Island Open Access Policy is administered by the Faculty Senate.

The Faculty Senate Library Committee serves in an advisory capacity to the Faculty Senate regarding the implementation and interpretation of the Policy.

Contact:

Julia Lovett
Faculty Senate Designate for the University of Rhode Island Open-Access Policy
oapolicy@etal.uri.edu
(401) 874-5079

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