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University of California adopts open-access publishing policy

The faculty of the University of California (UC), the largest public research university in the world, have adopted an open-access policy in which they commit to make their research articles freely available to the public.

The policy, adopted on 24 July, was made public by a press release issued on 2 August. It covers 8,000 UC faculty on all ten of the university’s campuses, who commit to grant UC a non-exclusive licence to research articles they author, provide copies of their articles to UC and to make the articles available through Creative Commons licences.

In the press release announcing the policy, Chris Kelty, associate professor of information studies at UC Los Angeles and chair of the UC University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication, said that the policy “sends a powerful message that faculty want open access and they want it on terms that benefit the public and the future of research”.

The release notes that UC is the latest of more than 175 universities to adopt similar policies. As with policies adopted at other institutions, however, faculty can opt out of the policy or delay the appearance of an open-access version of their work.

That aspect of the policy is controversial. In a 2 August blog post titled ‘Let’s not get too excited about the new UC open access policy’,  UC Berkeley biologist Michael Eisen, a co-founder of the open-access Public Library of Science journals, describes the policy as “completely toothless”.

“[M]any large publishers, especially in biomedicine, are requiring that authors at institutions with policies like the UC policy opt-out of the system as a condition of publishing,” Eisen writes, linking to a list of journals, including Nature, that require faculty to opt out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s open-access policy.
The policy will be phased in over the next year. Faculty at three campuses will begin depositing their work this November. Other campuses will follow suit next November, pending the results of a review of the policy.


  1. Report this comment

    Stevan Harnad said:

    Simple Way To Make UC OA Mandate Work

    Aside from the default copyright-reservation mandate with opt-out, always add an immediate-deposit clause without opt-out.

    The deposit need not be immediately made OA, but it needs to be deposited in the institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication. While access to the deposit is embargoed, the repository can implement the eprint-request Button with which users can request and authors can provide the sprint with one click each.

  2. Report this comment

    Sergio Stagnaro said:

    Based on 82-year-old researcher experience, I consider to adopt open-access publishing policy essential to scientific progress, as well as to spread it among physicians. In my opinion, there is a further aspect in both scientific research and knowledge diffusion to be considered: the freedom of the scientist.

  3. Report this comment

    Upinder Fotadar said:

    Such a move was overdue and is thus welcome. Moreover, the U.C. system is unique and also excellent. While surely there is a significant amount of politics in the Nobel Prizes and these Prizes are not the only criterion of excellence, nevertheless this system has also so far generated the maximum Nobel Prizes on planet earth.

    Dr. Upinder Fotadar

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