This FAQ is based on adoption of the kind of policy adopted by the University of California’s Academic Senate in July 2013 through which faculty granted the University non-exclusive rights to future research articles to make them available via its eScholarship repository. This FAQ was prepared by Juliya Ziskina (UW Law student) and Gennie Gebhart (UW graduate student in Library & Information Sciences) and includes materials from:

Office of Scholarly Communication of the University of California
Scholarly Publishing at MIT Libraries
Office for Scholarly Communication of Harvard University

What is Open Access?
Is this like Open [ X ]?
What is a repository?

Purpose and Aim of the Policy
Why are we doing this?
Would UW’s policy be unique?
What would the policy do for me?

Scope of the Policy
What kinds of writings would this apply to?
What version of the paper would be submitted under this policy?
Would the policy apply to articles I’ve already written?
Would the policy apply to co-authored papers?
What if my article has copyrighted images in it?

Complying ll th the Policy
How would this policy work?
What would I have to do to comply with this policy?
What if my article is already openly available?
Would my publisher know about the policy?
What if my publisher’s policy says something different than UW’s Open Access Policy?
What if a journal publisher refuses to publish my article because of the UW Open Access Policy?
Who can I call for support?
After I deposit my AAM in the repository, can I update it with edits or proofs from my publisher?

Opting Out (Obtaining a Waiver)
How would I opt out?
Would I have to get permission from my co-authors to comply with this policy?
Why does the policy include an opt out? Doesn’t that undermine the policy?

What Would Be Done With the Articles
What would UW do with the articles?
Could others distribute my work, for instance, placing it in a course pack?
Who would monitor implementation of the policy?

Impact of Policy on Scholarly Publishing Environment
Would this policy harm journals, scholarly societies, small friendly publishers, or peer review?
Would this policy harm those in tenure processes who need to show publication in high quality journals?
How would this policy affect other universities?
What’s in it for UW?

More Information
What is the wording of the proposed faculty policy?
How is granting a nonexclusive license to UW compatible with UW being able to exercise ‘all rights under copyright’?
Why make this an automatic license? Why not just suggest that faculty individually retain a license for open-access distribution?
Who would pay for this?
How is this policy related to the NIH Public Access Policy, and how is that policy working?
Why doesn’t the policy offer a delay before posting the articles, so that the UW version doesn’t show until after journal publication?
Won’t this lead to the proliferation of versions and confusion over citation?

What is Open Access?

Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings by UW faculty with full re-use rights. This means free availability of journal articles to anyone anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, allowing more people to access, read, and build upon scholarship.

Is this like Open [ X ]?

Open Access is related to, but not synonymous with, Open Data, Open Education, Open Source, Open Government, and others. They are all part of the “Open Movement.” Each focuses on different content and processes that may benefit from openness and transparency.

This website and policy proposal to “Open Access” only in relation to the free, immediate, online availability of peer reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment.

What is a repository?

An institutional repository  is an online archive for collecting, preserving, and disseminating digital copies of the intellectual output of an institution, particularly a research institution. The main objectives of an institutional repository are to provide open access to institutional research output by self-archiving it, to create global visibility for an institution’s scholarly research, and to store and preserve other institutional digital assets, including unpublished or otherwise easily lost (“grey”) literature such as theses or technical reports.

ResearchWorks is the existing research repository at the University of Washington.

Purpose and Aim of the Policy

Why does the UW need to do this?

The stated mission of the University of Washington is “the advancement, dissemination and preservation of knowledge.” Enacting an Open Access policy is a simple, cost-effective, and low-barrier way to pursue this mission.

Open Access can accelerate discovery, democratize access, and enable new strategies for addressing complex research challenges. To take advantage of these opportunities and to further their mission of creating, preserving, and disseminating knowledge, many academic institutions are taking steps to capture the benefits of Open Access by developing campus policies for the timely, free, online dissemination of their peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings.

Research has shown that articles available freely online are cited more often and have greater impact than those available only behind subscription journal paywalls. Some faculty already make their work available on their own websites. However, many authors are unaware of the variety of options available to them to broaden the reach of their research, or are unsure of their rights and responsibilities. Establishing an Open Access policy facilitates a coherent approach to maximizing the visibility and availability of UW’s research output, while ensuring preservation and compliance with copyright law.

 Would UW’s policy be unique?

No. Many universities have already joined the cause. Harvard University, MIT, University of California, Dartmouth, universities of Kansas and Oregon, schools at Stanford and Columbia, and hundreds of others in the US and around the world have established successful institutional Open Access policies. Many of these policies were adopted with unanimous approval from faculty. The UW can learn from and join these institutions.

What would the policy do for me?

Open Access makes it possible for authors to share their articles widely, openly, and freely. Research has often shown that articles freely available online are cited more often and have greater impact than those not available only behind subscription journal paywalls.

Scope of the Policy

What kinds of material does this apply to?

The UW Open Access policy will apply to peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings produced by University of Washington faculty. Such articles are typically presented in peer-reviewed scholarly journals.

Many research products are not encompassed under this policy, such as books, popular articles, commissioned articles, fiction and poetry, encyclopedia entries, lecture notes, lecture videos, or other copyrighted works. The Open Access policy is not meant to address these kinds of works. Additionally, the Open Access policy would not apply to data or patents.

What version of the paper will be submitted under this policy?

The Open Access policy encourages authors to deposit their final version of the article in the repository. In other words, this refers to the author’s manuscript with any changes made as a result of the peer-review process, but prior to the publisher’s copy-editing or formatting.

Will the policy apply to articles I’ve already written?

No. The policy would not apply retroactively, and is only meant to encompass articles that are accepted for publication after the policy is enacted. The policy also would not apply to any articles for which an author entered into an incompatible publishing agreement before the policy was adopted. The policy also would not apply to any articles written after an author leaves UW.

 Will the policy apply to co-authored papers?

Yes. Each co-author or “joint author” of an article holds copyright in the article and, individually, has the authority to grant a non-exclusive license to an institution. Joint authors are those who participate in the preparation of the article with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of the whole.

If you are one of multiple authors of a work, you can inform your co-authors about the nonexclusive license that you can grant to the UW under the proposed Open Access policy. If they object to the license or you are uncomfortable with proceeding for any reason, you may “opt out” with no questions asked.

What if my article has copyrighted images in it?

If the image is in the public domain or if the use of it was fair use, then the work can be deposited in the UW’s open access institutional repository with the image included.

If an author was obligated to sign an agreement before using the image, she/he can review the agreement to determine if it allows broad use of the image in the context of the article. If the terms of the agreement do not permit public access to the image in the context of the article, an authors has a few options, including:

  • Contact the other party to the agreement to get permission;
  • Deposit a version of the article without the images in question;
  • Get a different copy of the image from a different source with better terms;
  • See if there is a different image or media that will meet the article’s needs;
  • Submit a waiver to “opt out” for this article.

Complying With the Policy

How will this policy work?

The goal of this proposed Open Access policy is to ensure that peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings produced by UW faculty are freely accessible online, without interfering with the author’s freedom to publish where he or she chooses.

The policy will accomplish this by collecting the publications on the UW’s institutional repository, a publicly accessible, online database. Institutional repositories allow authors to easily add (also called “deposit” or “self-archive”) their own papers to the repository with librarian support.

Authors continue to submit manuscripts to the journals of their choice. When an author has an article accepted for publication, he or she makes a copy available for deposit in the repository. Deposits can be held for any length of time before they are made open access, for instance until the article has appeared in a publication or after a different embargo period after publication.

The basic policy framework we recommend highlights UW’s ability to play a central role in the stewardship of the scholarly record generated by its faculty. The framework is straightforward; UW’s Open Access policy would require authors to make manuscripts available for deposit in its repository at the time they are accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Authors automatically grant UW the right to make their manuscripts openly accessible through a non-exclusive license.

When an author deposits his or her own article, a dialog box in the deposit process would ask him or her to affirm the nonexclusive license (grant of rights) in the policy. When someone else (an administrative assistant or appropriate UW Libraries staff member) deposits articles on an author’s behalf, the author must first have signed a one-time assistance authorization form containing an affirmation of the nonexclusive license. Thus, whatever route an article takes into the repository, UW obtains a written affirmation of the license.

At the same time, authors may request a waiver, or “opt out,” of the institutional license for a given article if needed to accommodate a pressing individual circumstance.

What will I have to do to comply with this policy?

The infrastructure and details would be determined by the Faculty Senate and the UW Libraries. Both aim to devise a process that is as simple and easy as possible to integrate into faculty’s existing workflow. Please see the question above for general information about how this policy would work.

What if my article is already openly available?

This policy will require articles to be available in an Open Access repository. If an article is openly available at a repository like PubMed Central or SSRN, the author will only need to provide the link to the open access version of the article. Social networking sites like Academia.edu and ResearchGate are not repositories and do not provide the same services–-–such as preservation and ensuring searchability–-–that repositories do. Therefore, this would not fulfill the requirements of this proposed policy.

Will my publisher know about the policy?

Yes. When this policy is enacted, UW will contact publishers to communicate the terms of the new policy. Even if a publisher is not among those contacted, authors would be submitting an Author’s Addendum along with their manuscripts that notifies publishers of this policy. If a disagreement arises between an author and his or her publisher, the author would have the option of requesting an opt-out waiver.

Additionally, staff in the UW Libraries are available to support the policy and to supply guidance to authors.

What if my publisher’s policy says something different from UW’s Open Access Policy?

Publishers’ policies will not, by default, contain the same terms as an institutional Open Access policy. The proposed Open Access policy is intended to preempt or augment these publisher default terms. This is true whether the publisher requires a copyright transfer or not. If an author’s publisher does not require the author to opt out by obtaining a waiver, the author would be fully within his or her rights to take advantage of the UW’s policy.

Staff in the UW Libraries are available to support the policy and to supply guidance to authors.

What if a journal publisher refuses to publish my article because of the UW Open Access Policy?

This proposed policy is not, in any way, intended to limit an author’s venue of publication. If an untenable disagreement of this nature arises between an author and her/his publisher, the author will have the option of submitting an opt-out waiver. However, as more and more high-profile research institutions adopt Open Access policies, scholars have increasing leverage in negotiations with journal publishers concerning Open Access.

Who can I call for support?

Staff in the Libraries are available to support the policy and to supply guidance to authors.

After I deposit my AAM in the repository, can I update it with edits or proofs from my publisher?

There is no single answer to this question that covers all cases. If the publisher asked for the author’s approval of these edits, then yes, you can update the copy in the repository to include them. If the publisher didn’t ask for the author’s approval, then the publisher might own the copyright on them. However, that depends on the copyright transfer agreement, which differs from publisher to publisher and journal to journal. For example, some contracts give the publisher all or most rights; other contracts keep those rights in the author’s hands and license the journal the publish the work.

But even when the contract gives key rights to journal, the UW’s anticipated OA policy will over the published edition as well as the AAM. This is especially applicable when the unilateral changes made by a publisher after peer review are sufficiently minor, although the line is fuzzy. In any case, authors have the right to compare the AAM to the published version in order to determine if the differences are sufficiently minor, and to make an argument for making the published version OA.

Opting Out

How can I opt out?

An author can opt out for any reason with no questions asked. To opt out, an author can fill out a simple web form or send an email or other written notice to staff at the UW Libraries. The notice will include the following information:

  • Name of UW author
  • Title (final, expected, or working) of the article
  • Journal the author expects to publish in
  • Reason for opting out (optional)

Additional details and contact information would be available as the policy is implemented.

Will I have to get permission from my co-authors to comply with this policy?

No. Under the proposed policy, each faculty member would grant non-exclusive permission to UW to make their work available, and this permission would take precedence over assignment of copyright to a publisher once the policy is adopted. Since under U.S. copyright law any co-author has the right to make such a grant, UW authors are able to rely on the policy to post their articles without checking with their co-authors.

However, best practices include treating Open Access policy participation like other co-authorship issues – determining author order, reporting contributions, etc. – and, hence, discussing the issue among co-authors as part of the writing and publication process. It is at the sole discretion of the UW author to decide whether to opt out of the policy for a given article to accommodate a co-author.

Why does the policy include an opt-out option? Doesn’t that undermine the policy?

Some Open Access policies require that authors deposit a copy of each manuscript accepted for publication in the institutional repository, while others merely request that authors do so. Currently, UW “encourages” authors to submit their work into ResearchWorks. Policies that require deposit are proven to achieve better results in ensuring Open Access to an institution’s research.

The experience of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) demonstrates this. Under a voluntary policy in place for two years, fewer than 10% of manuscripts by NIH-funded authors were deposited into the NIH designated repository. After adopting a mandatory policy, compliance soared to nearly 50% in just the first few months. Additionally, researchers have found in surveys that 94% of researchers would comply with an Open Access policy, such as the one here, from their employer or research funder.

A mandate with this kind of opt-out still accomplishes the important goal of shifting the default mode on campus to “open.” Faculty who don’t wish a manuscript to be openly available on the intended timetable, for personal preference or due to publisher request, would request a waiver. The waiver would be granted for any reason, no questions asked. Changing the default can change behavior on a large scale.

What Will Be Done With the Articles

What will the UW do with the articles?

The UW will keep the articles archived in ResearchWorks and allow them to be indexed by services such as Google Scholar. The UW may further allow others to distribute the content, provided that the articles are not sold for profit. For instance, faculty at other institutions may be given permission to make copies for free distribution directly to their students for instructional purposes. However, the UW would not have––-and cannot grant to others–-–the right to sell the articles for a profit.

Is the UW taking the rights to my writing?

No. Authors will retain ownership and complete control of the copyright of their writings, subject only to the UW’s prior, nonexclusive license. An author can exercise his or her copyrights in any way she/he sees fit, including transferring them to a publisher. (However, if an author does so, UW would still retain its license and the right to distribute the article from its repository. Also, if the article arises, in whole or in part, from NIH-funded research, the author must retain sufficient rights to comply with NIH’s Public Access Policy.)

Could others distribute my work, for instance, placing it in a course pack?

This policy would grant the UW the right to license others to distribute the work, so long as the work is not sold for a profit. For example, the UW could give permission for an article to be used in a course pack (including giving such permission to an author if the author has otherwise transferred copyright), so long as the course pack is not sold for profit. No one will be able to sell articles for profit without getting permission from the appropriate rights holder, whether that were the author or a publisher to whom the author has assigned such rights.

Who will monitor implementation of the policy?

The Academic Senate and the University of Washington will be jointly responsible for implementing this policy. The policy, however, relies not on coercion but on norms, encouragement, education, and support—making colleagues and peers the best supporters of the Open Access policy and the culture change that can accompany it.

Impact of Policy on Scholarly Publishing Environment

Will this policy harm journals, scholarly societies, small friendly publishers, or peer review?

There is no empirical evidence that Open Access leads to cancelled journals. The major scholarly societies in physics, for example, have not seen any negative impact on their publishing programs despite the fact that the field’s collective open access repository arXiv has been making virtually all of the field’s literature freely and openly available for more than 10 years. If there is downward pressure on journal prices over time, publishers with the most inflated prices—which tend to be the commercial publishers—will feel the effects sooner. As of this writing, however, journal prices on average continue to increase.

Peer review, like scholarly articles themselves, is a service provided for free by the scholarly community. Journals do not pay for peer reviewers or any of the products of peer review. Depositing work in an open access repository—whether pre-publication, post-publication, or as grey or working literature—has no effect on peer review’s process or quality.

Will this policy harm those in tenure processes who need to show publication in high quality journals?

The opt-out option protects authors who need to publish in journals that will not cooperate with the policy.

How will this policy affect other universities?

As similar policies are passed at more universities, the overall climate for scholarly communication has improved, to the benefit of all institutions of higher education. Smaller universities may not have the resources to build their own repositories, but shared repositories are starting to become available for such cases.

What’s in it for the UW?

The policy will increase the impact of UW research by making it more widely available. Studies show a very large citation advantage for open access articles, ranging from 45% to over 500%, but restrictive publisher business models limit wide sharing through onerous terms in contracts with university libraries and individual authors. Performing systematic searching, advanced indexing, or analysis are prohibited in virtually all contracts.

The proposed policy will give the UW a means of negotiating for more attractive terms with publishers, an effort needed in a context of dramatic inflation and market consolidation: the 5 largest journal publishers now account for over half of total market revenues, and over the past 15 years, the price of scholarly journals has grown roughly three times as fast as the Consumer Price Index.

More Information

What is the wording of the proposed faculty policy?

The proposed policy relies on the same wording as the model Open Access policy instated by Harvard and adopted by the University of California and many other U.S. universities. The crux of the policy reads:

“Each Faculty member grants to the University of Washington a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles, in any medium, and to authorize others to do the same, for the purpose of making their articles widely and freely available in an open access repository. Any other systematic uses of the licensed articles by the University of Washington must be approved by the Faculty Senate. This policy does not transfer copyright ownership, which remains with Faculty authors under existing University of Washington policy.”

How is granting a nonexclusive license to the UW compatible with the UW being able to exercise ‘all rights under copyright’?

Under U.S. copyright law, an author retains copyright as soon as the work is created, and until the author explicitly gives it away to a third party. The Open Access policy will secure a specific non-exclusive license for the author’s institution. A non-exclusive distribution license means that authors may formally publish their work and/or make other copies of their work available on other websites or through other means without obtaining permission from the Libraries. Authors retain ownership and complete control of the copyright for articles, subject only to this prior license. This is not the same as transferring copyright or ownership. Authors then may exercise their copyrights in any way they choose, including transferring necessary rights to the publisher of a journal that has accepted the article for publication.

This policy is not meant to constrain in any way what an author actually does with his or her rights, above and beyond allowing the university to maintain a copy of their work in ResearchWorks, unless for some reason the author needs to opt out.

This Open Access policy is specifically designed not to interfere with the academic freedom of authors to publish where they choose. The Open Access policy will actually promote academic freedom, not limit it. Scholars remain in control of what to publish, when to publish, where to publish, and how audiences can gain access to their published research. An Open Access policy will simply enable the UW to expand the audience for authors’ published works. Conversely, the policy also leaves authors free to limit their audience by opting out of the policy.

For more information on institutional Open Access policies and copyright, please see the Resources page.

Why make this an automatic license? Why not just suggest that faculty individually retain a license for open-access distribution?

Experience has shown that opt-in systems have little effect on authors’ behavior. For instance, before Congress made it a requirement, participation in the NIH Public Access Policy was optional. During that period, fewer than 10% of articles were deposited. Experience in many areas has shown that opt-out systems achieve much higher degrees of participation than opt-in systems.

Individual faculty benefit from a blanket policy because it makes it possible for the UW to work with publishers on behalf of authors to simplify procedures and broaden access.

Who will pay for this?

Th eUW already has the technical infrastructure in place to store the articles, in the form of the Open Access repository ResearchWorks. In addition, the UW Libraries have experience supporting access to faculty research, such as technical reports and working papers, and know how to assist faculty who wish to retain rights in their published works. Once an implementation plan is developed, it will be possible to assess what other staff or technical support might be needed, if any, and to reassess priorities in light of those needs.

How is this policy related to the NIH Public Access Policy, and how is that policy working?

The NIH Public Access Policy applies only to NIH funded research. It requires authors to deposit their peer-reviewed articles in the open access repository PubMedCentral where they must be accessible within 12 months of publication. Making the policy mandatory has had a dramatic effect on deposits: the rate has increased from under 10% to an estimated 60%. The policy makes tax payer funded research available to taxpayers.

A particular article could be subject to both the UW’s proposed Open Access policy and the NIH Public Access policy, if it is peer reviewed and arose, in whole or in part, from NIH-funded research. If an NIH-funded article is covered by NIH Open Access policy, the author would use the UW amendment to publication agreements to cover NIH’s obligations and accommodate the UW policy. Even if the author decides to opt out of the policy for an article, the author must reserve rights sufficient to comply with the NIH policy when entering into a publication agreement for the article.

Why doesn’t the policy offer a delay before posting the articles, so that the the UW version doesn’t show until after journal publication?

Embargoes and delays in making articles available to comply with publisher requirements will be allowed. This proposed policy takes only a first step towards re-balancing the scholarly publishing system, giving UW a means of negotiating for faculty and allowing wider sharing of their research. Other steps will no doubt make sense in the future. Some universities, for example, have begun supporting open access journals by creating funds authors can use for publication fees.

Won’t this lead to the proliferation of versions and confusion over citation?

With or without this policy, the academic community will need to work on the problem of version control in digital scholarship. There are technical and standard-based solutions that will address this problem. Some of those examining this issue include an International working group of scholars, scholarly societies, and publishers and the AAAS, among others. Nomenclature and modeling efforts are underway at the National Information Standards Organization and the Version Identification Framework.

Further, there are often no differences between repository and journal versions of the same text. Sometimes a publisher makes copy edits after peer review, and these are seldom noteworthy. All substantive edits should have been made before work is approved by peer review, and that is most often the practice.

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