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How UiT The Arctic University of Norway protects researchers’ freedom to choose whatever publication venue they want


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. In 2021 the University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway (UiT) adopted an Open Access policy that came into force on 1st January 2022.

Here, UiT members Camilla Brekke (Prorector for Research and Development), Johanne Raade (Library Director), Tanja Larssen (Open Science Advisor) and Per Pippin Aspaas (Head of Library Research and Publishing Support), tell us about the process of creating and implementing their policy.


cOAlition S: Could you, please, describe the author copyright policy you have adopted at your respective university?

UiT: UiT has adopted a rights retention policy, in the sense that all peer-reviewed work by authors affiliated with UiT shall be uploaded in the CRIS-system. In case the work is published in open access, the Version of Record is to be uploaded. In case a publication venue with closed access has been used, the Author’s Accepted Manuscript (the very last manuscript, after peer review) shall be uploaded. This is mandatory for journal articles and book chapters, and recommended for other types of academic work, ranging from monographs to feature articles in newspapers. The administrators of the institutional open repository, the Munin Archive, will continuously make the full texts uploaded by UiT authors openly available in green open access, regardless of publisher policies and regardless of any downstream contracts inadvertently accepted by a scholar during the submission workflow with the publisher.


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

There are two reasons for us adopting an institutional rights retention policy: one regarding Academic Freedom and the other related to budgetary constraints.

UiT: We have seen over the years how several institutions in the US, including Harvard, have successfully adopted Rights Retention policies. Essentially, there are two reasons for us doing the same – one regarding Academic Freedom and the other related to budgetary constraints. We see that UiT affiliates in fact want to publish their work in open access. At the same time, they want to use the publication venues that offer the best prospects of quality assurance. As an employer, UiT protects our researchers’ freedom to choose whatever publication venue they want, without having to compromise on the principle of the widest possible dissemination via open access. The other, economic reason is that we see that the read-and-publish deals with big commercial publisher are not sustainable in the long run. To phrase it in tabloid terms, we need to make better use of the taxpayer’s money. One third reason can be added. The landscape of publishing and funding is diverse, and our researchers shall not have to know the regulations of each funding body or publishing house.


cOAlition S: How was agreement reached across the institution?

UiT: The institution has a Research Strategic Council with professors from each unit. The council appointed a group of experts from the university library, the central administration, and the various faculties. This group together formulated a revision to UiT’s Open Access Policy, in which Rights Retention now takes a prominent place. After careful legal scrutiny and discussion with the deans of each faculty, the rector then formally adopted the new Open Access Policy.


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

UiT: First and foremost, we needed to overcome legal anxieties. To our knowledge, we are one of the very first institutions in Europe to adopt an institutional Rights Retention Policy and likely the very first in Scandinavia. Even if expertise from Harvard assured us that they had not had any problems, how would this function under a Norwegian jurisdiction? It is vital for UiT that any anxiety is taken away from the shoulders of each individual researcher. Again, in tabloid fashion one can say to any anxious researcher that “UiT as an institution covers your back”.


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

UiT: For our researchers, to avoid the prior notice, i.e. the statement that Plan S requires each researcher to make when submitting a paper to a journal, is considered a great relief. The prior notice is in UiT’s case taken care of by the existence of our institutional Open Access Policy on our official webpages. For the administrators of our institutional archive (Munin), being free from the laborious task of checking what the publisher allows and manually imposing embargo periods on each article saves time, which they can now devote on upgrades of other aspects of the library’s open science services.


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

UiT: First and foremost, involvement. To the researchers, publishing their work is a core activity. Habits and possibilities differ between disciplines, so make sure to involve researchers from different backgrounds. Second, be brave. Make sure that when approaching the university’s leadership, you emphasize that risks are low and gains are high. The same goes for administrators and librarians when informing about the new policy to busy researchers. Finally, talk to people who have already been through the same process. The UiT group had fruitful online discussions with Harvard University and Bifröst University in Iceland. Instead of inventing the wheel, we simply adapted it to our local context. Open Access Policies are the opposite of business secrets and in our experience, the people writing them are eager to engage in open discussions.



Recommended listening

Open Science Talk: An Institutional Rights Retention Strategy (podcast)



About UiT The Arctic University of Norway and it’s portal for publishing and Open Access

UiT The Arctic University of Norway is a medium-sized research university that contributes to knowledge-based development at the regional, national and international level. It is the northernmost university of the world. Its location on the edge of the Arctic implies a mission. The Arctic is of increasing global importance. Climate change, the exploitation of Arctic resources and environmental threats are topics of great public concern, and which the university takes special interest in.

UiT’s web portal for publishing and Open Access provides researchers and students with information about important requirements and support services for publishing and open access. UiT’s goals are to contribute to research-based knowledge in the wider society, and to make all academic publications accessible in open access journals or repositories. The portal is a collaboration between the Research, Education and Communication Division and the University Library.

Per Pippin Aspaas

Per Pippin Aspaas holds a PhD in history of science and is an active researcher in fields such as Latin philology and early-modern intellectual history. Since 2009, he has been working at the University Library of University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway (UiT), where he is now the head of a team for Research and Publishing Support. UiT has been an early implementer of open science policies in Norway and the library runs several peer-reviewed diamond OA journals as well as an institutional repository for green open access documents (articles, MA and PhD theses, reports). Aspaas is the host of Open Science Talk, an English-language podcast series providing insight into open science projects in Norway and the wider world.