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December 25, 2005

Funder Mandates Kills Unjust Embargoes!

"Kate Worlock, Wellcome Trust: The End Of The Embargo? EPS, December 22, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:

OUP, Blackwell and Springer have changed their copyright agreements with authors to allow immediate self-archiving of Wellcome-funded research. What will agreements of this sort mean for publisher embargo periods?...To date, attempts to request rather than require researchers to self-archive have fallen on rather deaf ears, so moves like this from Wellcome will be welcomed by open access supporters. According to open access advocate Peter Suber, if all of the NIH-funded researchers complied with the request to deposit articles in PubMed Central, about 5,000 papers would be submitted each month. In reality, only 1,878 articles were deposited between May and September....From 1st October, Wellcome made it a condition of funding that papers emanating from its grant awards be placed in an open access repository. This reflects the Research Councils UK's (RCUK) draft position statement, issued in September 2005, which also made article deposit a condition of funding....Meanwhile the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US established a working group (PAWG) in May 2005 to review statistical evidence on the impact of its policy and suggest any changes to the policy which might further its goals...[A]t the group's November 15th meeting, it recommended that the researchers be required rather than requested to submit an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication to PubMed Central, and that delays or embargoes imposed by publishers could be no longer than six months (down from 12 months)....Another element was recently added to this mix with Senator Joseph Lieberman's introduction of the CURES Act, a bill which would mandate the deposit of articles within four months of publication. There is evidence that authors do not always obey embargo periods - Key Perspectives' research found that of the eight primary research papers published in the first issue of Nature Physics, seven were available on the web on the day of publication despite a six month embargo. At present most publishers require embargo periods of between six and 12 months before an article may be placed in a repository, but these recent announcements, plus the reality of researchers' actions, will put pressure on this position. In the short term publishers may choose to shorten their embargo periods and to use this action as a bid to attract authors or to position themselves as forwards-thinking. However, this type of competition cannot last long - by the end of 2006 we may have witnessed the death of the embargo."

Source: P. Suber. Will funder mandates and author attitudes kill embargoes? Open Access News Blog (23 December 2005) [FullText]

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