Today marks the beginning of International Open Access Week, and the launch of a pilot project here in the Libraries – a centralized fund for OA fees for OSU faculty, staff, and students. Visit the official announcement of the fund on the From the Director blog, or see the OA Fund website for more details. I’ll just make a point of saying here that this is most definitely a pilot project. We have $20,000 contributed by the University Libraries and the Health Sciences Library, and once the money is gone, the project is over. The Libraries is not likely to be able to fund something like this in an ongoing manner, so we are using the pilot to gather information and determine whether it is worth seeking additional sources of funding to make this a regular program. It could last a year, it could last a week. This isn’t a new idea; libraries have been administering OA funds for their campuses for years. Doing so at a place the size of OSU, however, is a major undertaking, and this is just the first step in that direction. I will make sure to post again when the pilot project is concluded, and any future developments in this area will certainly pop up on this blog.
The OSU Libraries’ Publishing Program grew up as an extension of the Knowledge Bank, our repository program, and the two continue to share quite a bit. Some of those intersections, like a common platform (DSpace, used to publish some of our journals) and shared staff, are a benefit to both programs. In other cases, we have carried over something from the repository side that maybe isn’t the best fit for publishing. I came across one of those recently when I realized that the Knowledge Bank license agreement, which we had been using as an author agreement for our journals, didn’t include some provisions that are important to journal publishing. As an example, there is nothing in our KB license that would give the journal the right to contribute the article to a subject database for full-text indexing and discovery. When one of our editors was contacted by an indexing service, asking to index the full text of their journal, I had to sheepishly tell them that, while the risk was very low, they would most likely be infringing their authors’ copyright in doing so. It was also unclear who the licensee should be – is the author granting rights to the OSU Libraries? To the journal? As the license was adapted for various publications, the licensee morphed until we had a confusing – and embarrassing – variety.
To cut through the confusion and make sure our rights agreements were working for all parties, I worked with Sandra Enimil, Head of the Copyright Resources Center, and Maureen Walsh, the head of the Knowledge Bank program, to develop a standard author agreement. After multiple rounds of revisions and review by university legal counsel, we finally have a template that we’re all happy with. The agreement is intended to be modular, with sections that can be added or removed to support various licensing arrangements (like Creative Commons) and submission procedures (like the first part, about it taking effect upon acceptance). I would also emphasize that it’s not intended to be one-size-fits-all, even with the modularity, and we fully expect that individual journals – and occasionally even individual articles – will require modifications. For example, I just helped a student journal adapt it to include both the author’s acceptance and their advisor’s, and I worked with the editor of another journal (and Sandra, who is probably getting tired of me by now) to add a provision for an author who wanted to exempt the images in her submission from the Creative Commons license that was applied to the text.
Because I’m sure we’re not the only ones to struggle in this area, I wanted to share the agreement here. Please feel free to adopt, adapt, or draw from it.