FAQ: Open Access Policy
with thanks to MIT, on whose extensive FAQ this is based (used with permission)
PLEASE NOTE: on 11 February 2015 the University Council ratified the new, opt-out open access policy. We are currently in the implementation phase for this policy. This FAQ will give you an understanding of where we are in the process. Please direct any feedback and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PURPOSE AND AIM OF THE POLICY
What is the BU open access policy?
Is BU's policy unique?
What does opt-out mean, exactly?
Secondly, the policy grants to BU certain non-exclusive rights with respect to scholarly articles produced after its adoption. Authors can request a waiver of this rights transfer through the same web-based form, on a per-article basis. The waiver is granted automatically; authors receive an auto-generated email confirming this upon submission of the form.
N.B.: Faculty from CAS and ENG should deposit articles and opt out of open access for a specific article through the My CV system.
Why was this policy needed? Why opt-out?
The benefits of an opt-out policy to BU are many:
- Authors have more agency, not less, with this policy in place.
- Increased visibility for BU’s research, taking better advantage of existing publisher open access policies. This aligns closely both with the One BU philosophy and with the aims of the Campaign for Boston University.
- More clearly defined and robust institutional support for helping faculty deposit papers and for negotiating with publishers. Infrastructure to better support the scale at which BU operates.
- Reduced ambiguity for authors regarding what to submit to our institutional repository OpenBU.
- Closer alignment with our AAU peers (see below for a list of AAU institutions that have adopted similar policies).
- More complete capture of faculty publications should allow us to integrate the repository with the faculty annual reporting system, making it easier to fill out annual reports.
Won't the publishers object?
SCOPE OF THE POLICY
What kinds of writings does this policy apply to?
The policy does not apply to books, book chapters, creative works, encyclopedia entries, ephemeral writings, teaching and learning materials, or popular or commissioned articles.
What version of the paper is submitted under this policy?
Does the policy apply to articles I've already written?
Does the policy apply to co-authored papers?
COMPLYING WITH THE POLICY
What do I have to do to comply with the policy?
If you are not yet using My CV, please keep reading.
The policy automatically gives BU a non-exclusive license to any scholarly articles faculty members complete after its adoption. In spring of 2015, BU sent out letters to hundreds of publishers to inform them of this new policy.
To be thorough, BU recommends that you communicate this policy to your publisher and add to any copyright license or assignment for scholarly articles an addendum stating that the agreement is subject to this prior license. That way, you will avoid agreeing to give the publisher rights that are inconsistent with the prior license to BU that permits open-access distribution of final author drafts. BU Libraries in consultation with the Office of the General Counsel have prepared a BU-specific Author Addendum, which is based on similar documents used by our peer institutions that are familiar to many publishers. Please note that, whether or not you use the addendum, the license to BU remains in force. If there is a conflict between the policy and a publication contract you sign after its adoption (11 February 2015), the policy will generally prevail.
What if a journal publisher refuses to publish my article because of the prior permission given to BU under this policy?
- attempt to persuade the publisher to publish your article, perhaps asking if they would accept an embargo on making the OpenBU final draft copy open access;
- ask BU Libraries or the BU Office of General Counsel (617.353.2326, email@example.com) for help in addressing the publisher’s concerns; [Please note: your scholarly articles are owned by you individually and not BU, and the University cannot represent you legally. But we are ready to protect the University’s interest in open access, and will be happy to talk with you to illuminate the issues.]
- seek another publisher for your article; or
- opt out by filling out a short web-based form, or, if My CV has been rolled out to your academic unit, request a waiver of the license transfer for your article in My CV (see the Opting Out section below).
How will you know what I've published?
How will you obtain my articles? If my field already has an open subject repository, will I be required to do the work of depositing my articles into both that repository and OpenBU?
When and how do I proactively submit a paper to OpenBU under this policy?
Which BU offices will be involved in implementing this policy?
OPTING OUT (OBTAINING A WAIVER)
How do I opt out?
You can specify access options during the article submission process, whether via the web-based form or via My CV. This will allow you to make your article openly accessible immediately, embargo it for a period of time, or never make it accessible while it remains in copyright.
You may also opt out/obtain a waiver of the license transfer under the policy, if your publisher requires you to do so or for any other reason. If using the BU Libraries web form linked above, you may take the waiver option by checking the appropriate checkbox. The waiver will be granted automatically, and you will receive an auto-generated email confirming this. We will supply you with a more formal letter if needed.
If My CV has been rolled out to your academic unit, you may opt out/obtain a waiver of the license transfer through My CV. My CV will automatically generate a waiver acknowledgement letter on BU letterhead, and you can download a PDF file for your records.
Please note: if you obtain a license waiver and then sign rights away in your publishing contract, in most cases you will need to ask the publisher permission before including your own figures in other articles, including your own articles in your course packs, or re-using your own materials in other ways (or authorizing others to do the same).
What happens if I do not opt out, but assign exclusive rights to a publisher anyway, mistakenly signing a publisher's agreement that conflicts with the policy?
- consult with BU Libraries;
- consult with the Office of General Counsel (617.353.2326, firstname.lastname@example.org) [Please note: your scholarly articles are owned by you individually and not BU, and the University cannot represent you legally. But we are ready to protect the University’s interest in open access, and will be happy to talk with you to illuminate the issues]; or
- opt out for that article.
What happens when co-authors disagree on whether or not to opt out?
Why does the policy include an opt out? Doesn't that undermine the policy?
Could I take the opt out later if a publisher required me to do so?
How does this policy affect my copyright to the work I create? Is BU taking the rights to my writing?
What happens if I run into legal difficulty when attempting to comply with the new policy?
- consult with BU Libraries;
- consult with the Office of General Counsel (617.353.2326, email@example.com) (Please note: your scholarly articles are owned by you individually and not BU, and the University cannot represent you legally. But we are ready to protect the University’s interest in open access, and will be happy to talk with you to illuminate the issues); or
- opt out for that article.
How may I use an article that appears with both a publisher copyright statement and a Creative Commons license?
BU has chosen to distribute articles under its Open Access Policy using one of the standard Creative Commons licenses: the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. A CC license appearing with an article determines how the article may be used. This particular CC license means that you are free to share (copy, distribute and transmit the work) and remix (adapt) the work under the following conditions:
- Attribution: You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggest that they endorse you or your use of the work);
- Noncommercial: You may not use this work for commercial purposes;
- Share Alike: If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.
The CC license appearing on OpenBU applies to the version of the article made available at OpenBU, and not to any version made available on a publisher’s website. A publisher may also assign a CC license to their version/copy of the article; the two are separate for the purposes of Creative Commons licensing.
WHAT WILL BE DONE WITH THE ARTICLES
What will BU do with the articles?
BU may further allow others to distribute the content, subject to the Creative Commons license described above. For instance, faculty at other institutions could be given permission to make copies for free distribution directly to their students. However, BU does not have and cannot grant to others the right to sell the articles for a profit or to sell a book containing the articles for a profit.
Does this license preclude all activities that involve payment?
Can others distribute my work, for instance, placing it in a course pack?
Can my articles be used to provide search or other services by companies such as Google?
The license allows BU to enable both commercial and nonprofit entities to use both the articles and information associated with them (such as citations, but not the full text) to provide search and other services—including bibliographic data and citation lists. Such commercial uses are permissible as long as the articles themselves are not sold for a profit, and the use is consistent with the goals of the Open Access Policy.
Who will monitor the implementation of the policy?
IMPACT OF POLICY ON SCHOLARLY PUBLISHING ENVIRONMENT
What other institutions have adopted similar policies? Have any rescinded?
- California Institute of Technology (2013-14)
- Columbia University* (2011-14)
- Duke University (2010)
- Emory University (2011)
- Georgia Institute of Technology (2013)
- Harvard University* (2008-12)
- Indiana University—IUPUI Library* (2010)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2009)
- McGill University Library* (2012)
- Princeton University (2011)
- Rice University (2012)
- Rutgers University, SUNJ (2013)
- Stanford University School of Education* (2008)
- University of California, Berkeley (2013)
- University of California, Davis (2013)
- University of California, Irvine (2013)
- University of California, Los Angeles (2013)
- University of California, San Diego (2013)
- University of California, Santa Barbara (2013)
- University of Colorado Boulder (2013)
- University of Kansas (2009)
- University of Oregon* (2009)
- University of Virginia (2010)
Will this policy harm journals, scholarly societies, small friendly publishers, or peer review?
Will this policy harm those in tenure processes who need to show publication in high quality journals?
How will this policy affect other universities, particularly small ones?
More generally, we believe that increased adoption of similar policies will continue to improve scholarly communication, increasing dialogue and the production of new knowledge.
What's in it for BU?
The policy will also give BU a means of negotiating for more attractive terms with publishers. This is significant in an environment where the three largest publishers control over 40% of the market and library expenditures for journals over the past 30 years have increased at roughly four times the rate that Consumer Price Index did in the same time period.
What is open access?
What is the difference between OA and OA journals?
Open access, however, includes much more than OA journals. Over 70% of the nearly 1700 publishers in the SHERPA/RoMEO policies database have some sort of provision for open access archiving. With some notable exceptions, scholarly publishers have expressed support for open access and are actively participating in it.
What is the relationship between OA and peer review?
How is granting a nonexclusive license to BU compatible with BU being able to exercise 'all rights under copyright'?
Will I have to pay article processing charges (APCs) as a result of this policy?
Why isn't staff and student work covered by this policy?
How is this policy related to the U.S. governmental funding agencies' Public Access Policies, and how are those policies working?
The NIH Public Access policy, which requires that all publicly funded research be made openly accessible 12 months after publication, was initially opt-in (essentially optional). Compliance rate was around 4%. Since it became mandatory, and further funding began to depend on prior compliance, access to taxpayer-funded research has greatly improved. The benefit of this to society is difficult to overestimate.
For the first several years of its existence, BU’s open access policy was also opt-in. Compliance rate was less than 1%. We anticipate a similarly dramatic boost in compliance, and therefore impact of BU research in the world, after the opt-out policy is adopted.
Why doesn't this policy express support for open access journals?
Why doesn't the policy have a built-in delay for posting the articles?
Won't this lead to the proliferation of versions and confusion over citation?
- place links to final publisher versions into OpenBU metadata;
- provide correct example citations for OpenBU items, which make versioning clear;
- aim to enable automatic creation for a cover sheet for each downloaded PDF, which among other information will include the URL of the final published version.
Issues around versioning are native to the internet, and this policy neither eliminates nor exacerbates them. BU is keeping a close eye on technological developments that address these problems.
How will the publisher-formatted version of the article be linked to the final author draft on OpenBU? If the publisher-formatted version is open access, can it replace the author draft in OpenBU?
Where a DOI or other unique identifier is not assigned but there is a URL for the article, we will point to that URL. We will try to the best of our ability to keep our links up to date, but cannot guarantee that they will work in the absence of a unique identifier.
What are predatory OA journals? How do I spot and avoid them?
- Are they a known entity in your field?
- What else have they published? How is the quality, in your judgment?
- Do you know anyone associated with their editorial board, that you can check in with?
- Do you know anyone who has published with them?
- Does a web search for the journal name and the word predatory yield anything of interest from credible sources?
If you have questions or concerns about a particular journal, please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.358.8564) and we’ll be happy to research it for you.