UdeM open access policy: publications are freely available to all

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Under the new policy, UdeM is committed to making scholarly publications by members of the University community accessible to all.

Vincent Larivière

Credit: Amélie Philibert

Since the onset of the pandemic, researchers the world over have been cooperating and sharing the fruits of their research to an unprecedented degree. The development of a vaccine in record time demonstrates how important it is for scientists to have access to their colleagues’ research findings. In this era of global knowledge-sharing, Université de Montréal is proud of its new policy on open access to scholarly publications. It was developed by a working group set up by the Research Committee and the Library Advisory Committee, and was adopted by the University Assembly in December 2019 with the support of the represented groups.

The policy follows through on the commitment to open access publishing that Université de Montréal made more than 15 years ago. It calls on all UdeM authors to upload their articles, book chapters and conference papers to Papyrus, the freely accessible institutional site where student theses, dissertations and other documents are posted.

Studies have show that the more accessible a publication is, the more it is consulted. Open access publishing increases the reach and impact of researchers’ publications. — Vincent Larivière

The new policy was piloted by the Office of the Vice-Rector, Research, Discovery, Creation and Innovation, in conjunction with UdeM Libraries, which have posted a FAQ (in French) to inform teaching and research staff of the University’s position on open access, the policy’s purpose and scope, and how to comply with it. Workshops and information sessions on the policy will be held on Thursday, February 4 and on Tuesday, February 9.

Interview with Vincent Larivière, Professor in the School of Library and Information Sciences and Canada Research Chair in the Transformations of Scholarly Communication

What is the philosophy behind open access?

Science is a collectively funded public good. Every year, the Canadian government allocates more than $3 billion from tax revenues to its three granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. And we know that the broader the access to research results, the greater the advances in knowledge. So it is legitimate to expect scientific publications to be accessible to as many researchers as possible. And not just to researchers. The general public benefits indirectly if your family doctor can read medical articles and your child’s teacher can access articles about education.

Is open access publishing common?

Many members of UdeM’s teaching and research staff already publish in open access journals. The number of such journals is growing yearly and there are now more than 10,000 in all. However, 15% of academic journals still resist the open access movement and do not allow access to everyone.

Is this why UdeM’s policy has an opt-out clause?

Exactly. Because universities do want their researchers to publish in the most prestigious journals. Some leading publishers don’t allow open access, which puts contributors in a bind. Being able to opt out of the policy gives them a way out. And what we’ve seen is that the university open access policies that have an opt-out clause enjoy the highest adherence rates. In my opinion, it is partly because of the opt-out option that our research community has responded so favourably to the new policy.

What have we learned since the introduction of the first open access policies?

What works and what doesn’t. It has become clear that the following points are vitally important: tracking published articles to ensure compliance with the policy, consequences for non-compliance, and a support structure, such as an official repository for research articles.

All three Canadian granting agencies have had open access policies since 2015. What does Université de Montréal’s policy bring to the table?

First of all, our policy also covers research funded by other organizations. That work is also made possible by public funds, so the same rationale for accessibility applies. Secondly, UdeM’s policy guarantees some consistency in the process. Since the granting agencies have no monitoring mechanisms to make sure there is in fact open access to the research they fund, Université de Montréal’s policy will ensure compliance with the federal government’s rules. Thirdly, UdeM’s policy goes further than those of the agencies because it covers book chapters, not just articles, and applies not only to professors but also to students, sessional lecturers and research professionals.

How does UdeM’s policy compare with those of other Canadian universities?

It goes much further: no other university in Canada has adopted a policy with so much bite. In other countries, however, some go farther. In Europe, for example, a coalition supported by granting agencies in 12 countries wants to implement Plan S, under which all funded research must be published open access with no embargo, and publishing in for-profit journals is not allowed.

Libraries FAQ: An essential guide for the UdeM community

Under UdeM’s policy, all articles, book chapters and conference papers are to be uploaded to Papyrus as soon as they are published. Open access will be provided automatically by Papyrus no later than 12 months after the date of publication, depending on the publisher’s policies.

The FAQ page covers some practical points related to the policy, including an uploading guide and information about the opting-out clause and the process for opting out.

If you have any questions about the open access policy, please write to us at libre-acces(at)umontreal.ca.

See Université de Montréal’s policy on open access to scholarly publications.

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