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How the Norwegian University of Science and Technology takes legal responsibility for its authors’ copyrights by implementing rights retention

18/10/2022

In 2008 Harvard’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences voted unanimously to adopt a ground-breaking open access policy. Since then, over 70 other institutions, including other Harvard faculties, Stanford and MIT, have adopted similar policies based on the Harvard model. In Europe, such institutional policies have, so far, been slow to get off the ground.

We are beginning to see that situation change.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is introducing its own Rights Retention Strategy, in effect from 1 October 2022, which ensures Open Access to all new scientific articles published by NTNU’s researchers from day one. In the following interview, NTNU’s Library Director Sigurd Eriksson describes the new scheme, highlights the benefits for NTNU researchers and shares his tips on how other universities can adopt similar policies towards making all publications openly available as quickly as possible.


cOAlition S: Could you please, describe the author copyright policy you have adopted at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology?

Sigurd Eriksson: With a Rights Retention Strategy, we ensure that our researchers can publish their work wherever they want while maintaining their rights to use and distribute their work. As part of our Policy for Open Science, researchers at NTNU must archive their scientific work in our institutional repository, NTNU Open, through the national research information system, CRIStin. For articles that are not published gold OA, authors must deposit the Author Accepted Manuscript (green OA) under a CC BY license. By implementing a Rights Retention Strategy, their work will be made openly available immediately after publishing, regardless of the embargo period for self-archiving often imposed through the publisher’s license agreement. With a rights retention policy and open access through our institutional repository, NTNU takes legal responsibility for its authors’ copyrights.

By implementing a Rights Retention Strategy, their work will be made openly available immediately after publishing, regardless of the embargo period for self-archiving often imposed through the publisher’s license agreement. With a rights retention policy and open access through our institutional repository, NTNU takes legal responsibility for its authors’ copyrights.

cOAlition S: Why did the idea of adopting an institutional OA/copyright policy emerge?

Sigurd Eriksson: We were first inspired by the Rights Retention Strategy developed by cOAlition S. It is our policy to make all scientific articles from NTNU openly available, yet in the past three years about 25% were still neither gold OA nor deposited (green OA). Also, articles must be deposited in a local or national repository to be included in the performance-based financing of the institution.

We believe many researchers are reluctant to deposit in our institutional repository (green OA), likely out of fear of violating any license agreements signed with the publisher, often imposing a 12–24-month embargo period for self-archiving. Publications in hybrid journals are no longer financially supported by cOAlition S funders. We realized that a rights retention policy could be a leverage in our negotiations with publishers offering read-and-publish or “transformative” agreements, as well as a motivator for our researchers to upload their peer-reviewed manuscripts in our institutional repository.

cOAlition S: How was the agreement reached across the institution?

Sigurd Eriksson: In 2021, our Library Director sent briefings about the Rights Retention Strategy to the University Research Committee, which included members of all faculties of NTNU. In spring 2022, the suggested strategy was processed by the Library Council, then send back to the Research Committee and, finally, to the rector for approval.

cOAlition S: What challenges had to be overcome before it was agreed to adopt the policy?

Sigurd Eriksson: The rector and rector’s management team wanted a broad anchoring in the professional environments at NTNU. We obtained support by allowing the case to mature over time and by gathering experience from other institutions. Establishing a dialogue with the University in Tromsø, who were the first in Norway to implement a rights retention strategy on 1.01.2022, was especially helpful.

cOAlition S: What are the advantages of adopting the policy for your researchers and your institution?

Sigurd Eriksson: Our researchers can publish wherever they want, maintain the ownership of their work, and are no longer bound by an embargo period before they themselves can grant open access to their accepted manuscripts after publishing. Our researchers do not have to inform the publisher and can be at ease as NTNU will take legal responsibility.

Our researchers can publish wherever they want, maintain the ownership of their work, and are no longer bound by an embargo period before they themselves can grant open access to their accepted manuscripts after publishing.

cOAlition S: In conclusion, what are your three top tips for any other university considering adopting a similar permissions-based Open Access policy to yours?

Sigurd Eriksson:

1. Contact other institutions that have adopted a rights retention policy advice. They are likely happy to share their experience, knowing that others will follow their example.
2. Make it as easy as possible for the researchers to follow the policy by having the institution take care of the administrative work towards publishers.
3. Be extra thoughtful of how you formulate information about the rights retention policy on your intranet. A list of questions and answers (FAQ) can be very helpful for authors.


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Sigurd Eriksson

Sigurd Eriksson is the Library Director at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. My educational background includes a Master of Science in Cybernetics from NTNU and a Master of Arts in International Relations from Macquarie University, Sydney. Responsible for the leadership of the University Library at NTNU, the largest university library in Norway with a budget of approx. 300 million NOK and a staff of 120. I worked in the technology consulting industry for more than 20 years before moving to the public sector. I received a position as Chief Information Officer responsible for leading the digital transformation program at the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund. I have also worked as Deputy Director General at Unit – the Norwegian Directorate for ICT and Joint Services in Higher Education & Research - for three years before I began in my current position as Library Director in October 2021. For the duration of my working life, I have worked in the field of program and project management, strategic development, and digital transformation.