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World's Largest Public Research University Invites Public to Freely Access Its Research Online

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Late last month, faculty of the University of California (UC), the largest public research university in the world, was the latest of over 175 universities to institute an Open Access Policy.  Over the next year, articles produced by faculty of the UC's 10 campuses will be made available to the public online at no charge via the UC’s open access repository, eScholarship as well as in printed scholarly journals.

 
Chris Kelty, Associate Professor of Information Studies, UCLA, and chair of the UC University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication (UCOLASC) said that UC's new Open Access Policy "will cover more faculty and more research than ever before, and it sends a powerful message that faculty want open access and they want it on terms that benefit the public and the future of research.”

 

The policy covers more than 8,000 UC faculty at all 10 campuses of the University of California, and over 40,000 articles, and will grant a de-facto license to the University of California to enable faculty members to make their research widely and publicly available, re-use it for various purposes, or modify it for future research publications.

 

According to UC Biologist Michael Eisen there is a "major, major hole" in the policy in that faculty can choose to opt out of it, or delay the inclusion of an open-access version of their articles. In fact, he states in his blog, many well-established publishers such as AAAS, Nature, PNAS, Elsevier and many others have in the past required authors to opt out of Open Access policies.

 

Nevertheless, the Open Access Policy is a welcome alternative to the previous standard, where scholarly journals maintained sole control of the university's research and its distribution.  That standard shortchanged taxpayers, who have contributed much of the 8% of all research funding in the U.S that the University of California receives.  Said UC Orthopedic Surgery Dept Chair Richard A. Schneider, the policy is "a well-deserved return to taxpayers who will now finally be able to see first-hand the published byproducts of their deeply appreciated investments in research”

 

This initiative follows the recently announced White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) directive requiring “each Federal Agency with over $100 million in annual conduct of research and development expenditures to develop a plan to support increased public access to results of the research" funded by the Federal Government.” Check out the directive below: