The number of institutions and research funders adopting a formal policy on Open Access is increasing. The current totals are shown below:
The graph BELOW shows the growth in adoption of such policies:
Research funders wish to ensure that the work they have funded is given the best possible chance of being noticed and used. Usage represents a return on their investment. In the case of national or regional funders awarding reserch grants from the public purse, there is an obligation to do what they can to maximise the value that will eventually accrue to the taxpayer from the work. In the case of charities supporting research into particular issues, they wish to ensure that their funding is used as effectively as possible to resolve those issues.
It has long been known that only mandatory policies are truly effective in gathering the body of Open Access research that is wanted. A mandatory policy not only makes clear to researchers what is required and why, but also serves to raise awareness about Open Access and the reasons why it is desirable. Compliance rates with mandatory policies are much, much higher than policies that simply advise authors about the issues and encourage them to make their work Open Access. This is why new Open Access policies are almost all mandatory. As a result, the proportion of the world’s research outputs that is freely available to all is growing.
The pages on institutional policies and funder policies describe in more detail the sort of requirements that are made of authors and give more detail on different types of policy. Interestingly, over recent times, beginning with Harvard’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences early in 2008, individual faculties, schools and departments in universities have been voting in their own mandatory Open Access policies, many unanimously. The list of existing Open Access policies can be found here, along with policy details in most cases.
Authors are sometimes surprised at such moves, considering that being obliged to make their work Open Access is somehow in contradiction to the cherished principle academic freedom. This article by Professor Stuart Shieber of Harvard University discusses the issues.