Rights retention built into Cambridge Self-Archiving Policy
The following article by Niamh Tumelty was originally published on the “Unlocking Research” blog, which is maintained by the Office of Scholarly Communication based in the University of Cambridge Library and the University Research Office.
We’re delighted to announce that the University of Cambridge has a new Self-Archiving Policy, which took effect from 1 April 2023. The policy gives researchers a route to make the accepted version of their papers open access without embargo under a licence of their choosing (subject to funder requirements). We believe that researchers should have more control over what happens to their own work and are determined to do what we can to help them to do that.
This policy has been developed after a year-long rights retention pilot in which more than 400 researchers voluntarily participated. The pilot helped us understand the implications of this approach across a wide range of disciplines so we could make an informed decision. We are also not alone in introducing a policy like this – Harvard has been doing it since 2008, cOAlition S have been a catalyst for development of similar policies, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the University of Edinburgh for sharing their approach with us.
Some of the issues that cropped up during the pilot were outlined by Samuel Moore, our Scholarly Communications Specialist, in an earlier post on the Unlocking Research blog. The patterns we saw at that stage continued throughout the year-long pilot – there was no issue for most articles, but some publishers caused confusion through misinformation or by presenting conflicting licences for the researchers to sign. We do recognise that there are costs involved in high quality publishing, and we are willing to cover reasonable costs (while noting our concerns around inequities in scholarly publishing). The fact is that some publishers are trying to charge the sector multiple times for the same content – subscription fees, OA fees, other admin fees – all while receiving free content courtesy of researchers that are usually funded by the taxpayer and charity funders.
Many researchers and funders are understandably becoming firmer in their convictions that publicly funded research should be openly and publicly available. We are fortunate that at Cambridge we are in a position to support this through our support for diamond publishing initiatives (in which the costs of publishing are absorbed for example by universities and no fees are charged to the reader or the author), through read and publish agreements negotiated on behalf of the UK higher education sector and through payment of costs associated with publishing in fully open access venues. Rights retention gives researchers a back-up plan for when other routes are not available to them, e.g. when a journal moves unexpectedly out of a read and publish agreement or a publisher does not offer any publishing route that meets their funder requirements.
This is not the end goal, we have work to do to reach an equitable approach to global scholarly publishing, and we can learn a lot especially from how South America approaches these issues. We welcome opportunities to work together with others around the world to create a more sustainable and equitable future for scholarly communications.
Read more about the new Cambridge Self-Archiving Policy on the Cambridge Open Access website.
Niamh Tumelty is Head of Open Research Services at the University of Cambridge. This role involves leadership of the Office of Scholarly Communication within Cambridge University Libraries and working with researchers and professional services colleagues to develop and deliver an Open Research Programme for the university. Her approach is founded in developing deep understanding of the needs of researchers across all disciplines and forming strong collaborative relationships across the University and externally. Her own research interests are in historically-informed performance of the early Irish harp and in the research practices of the historical harping community.
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