Introducing a publications policy (or mandate) leads to more successful engagement with repositories and increased academic impact for institutions.
Open Access, repositories and a publications policy are a powerful mix that provide key benefits for an institution. These include the increased visibility and impact of research, new Research Management opportunities and the “public good” allowing the public to access publication outcomes of publicly funded research.
Repositories are successful where researchers are engaged with them, a key indicator of that engagement is self-deposit into the repository. While a small but increasing number of researchers and academics are genuinely interested in and enthusiastic about the open access agenda, many more are less engaged with it and will not actively deposit unless encouraged or required to do so.
Academics need to be convinced of the benefits of depositing their papers in their institutional repository. They need to be shown how making their research publications available on open access increases the citation rate (impact) of their research. Researchers need to see that their institutional repository is a key institutional system which they need to interact with regularly in the same way as they use systems such as their Research Support System (CRIS) .
For this to happen the repository needs to be at the heart of the way in which an institution deals with the publications of its staff. This can be done systemically through the re-use of data in the repository across the institution, for instance in staff research profile pages or as part of the professional development process. It needs to be easy to use, and the data, provided once only, needs to be re-used for multiple purposes. The capture of metadata can be via self-deposit by individual researchers, or may be captured centrally from publication sources.
Open Access Leadership
The implementation of change requires leadership and advocacy.
Research leaders should advocate Open Access by leading the implementation of an institutional publications policy which supports these activities. The policy should reflect the institutions commitment to open access, its stewardship of its research outputs, and the public good which it can fulfil. An effective institutional publications policy will close the gap between the spontaneous and sporadic deposit of only 10% of published papers to a rate much closer to the ideal of 100%. Research leaders need to ensure that that staff and resources are made available to promote and support the repository.
The risk of not implementing or adopting a publications policy
A publications policy should require staff to deposit their publications in the institutional repository. Metadata of all of publications should be made available, with links to the published version. The European Universities Research Association recommendations on Open Access encourage the inclusion of a mandatory requirement for the author’s final version of full text deposit of all peer-reviewed research into institutional repositories ideally, immediately after publication, or as soon as an embargo no longer applies. The purpose of the policy is twofold; it provides guidance to researchers on how to make their research outputs available; and it provides an institutional position and framework for dealing with publishers .
Introducing an institutional open access mandate or publications policy
The introduction of an institutional mandate or policy needs to be driven by staff at a sufficiently senior level to make change happen. Ideally this should be someone at Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research level who can act as the champion for its adoption and support its approval by the relevant university body or committee. Publications policies do not need to be mandates, they can “encourage” deposit, but a policy is an integral part of the institution’s leadership and commitment to managing its research outputs. A mandate can be used primarily as a negotiating tool with publishers; that is, the stick is wielded at publishers, and not at researchers.
The institution should charge a department with significant staff capacity, such as the Library and/or Research Office to take carriage of promotion of and support for the policy. Reference to the SHERPA/RoMEO publisher copyright and self-archiving information service allows support staff (and researchers) to benefit from the availability of information for good decision making.
The impact of mandates
Institutions worldwide have implemented open access mandates. A number of institutions have had a mandate in place for several years, and so it is now possible to draw some conclusions on the impact that a mandate can have. Some key examples of the successful implementation of mandates include:
- University of Minho (Portugal) Minho introduced a mandate in 2004, at the same time as they introduced an innovative financial incentive approach for departments to ensure the deposit of full text. This took the form of a financial supplement of 99,000 Euros which was distributed to departments and research centres as a reward for their commitment in the implementation of the policy based on a scoring system. In 2006, the Dean issued additional financial support amounting to 30,000 Euros to departments. During the first year of this twin track approach, the increase in self-archiving was 71%.
- Queensland University of Technology (Australia)  introduced a mandate in 2003. They did a lot of outreach work with departments explaining the policy and benefits. They also worked hard to provide a user-centric deposit process. This twin approach has delivered increased deposit rates and enabled real engagement with researchers.
Funding body open access mandates
Nearly all of the major UK funding bodies now have some kind of open access policy in place for grant holders. The terms and conditions of these policies vary but in essence all require grant holders to make the publications resulting from a grant openly available, usually within a particular time period. The widespread nature of these mandates within the UK is an important indication of the significance funders attach to making the research they fund as openly and widely available as possible.
The Wellcome Trust in the UK has been a leading pioneer and advocate for Open Access. Wellcome were the first funding body to implement a mandate and from the 1st of October 2005 it became a condition of grant that any original research paper published in a peer-reviewed journal should be deposited into PubMed Central, and subsequently UK PubMed Central.
This mandate was backed by two significant initiatives:
- the provision of additional funding to support any article processing charges (APCs) charged by the publisher
- support for the creation of UK PubMed Central as part of the UKPMC Funders’ Group. UK PubMed Central is a key piece of Open Access infrastructure for the UK’s biomedical, health and life sciences research, with over two million full text peer reviewed articles.
The Wellcome Trust’s groundbreaking initiative has been readily replicated by other funding bodies and councils and while some of the individual requirements may differ the principles of access and re-use are fundamental.
In May 2011, Research Councils UK and HEFCE announced that they would work together in support of Open Access. Their goal is to increase the capacity of the UK’s research base by making research as widely available as possible and to support further research .
Linking Funder and Institutional Policies
It can be useful to note that funding body mandates/open access mandates are in place and to refer to these in the institutional publication policy. This can ensure that the institution complies with any publication conditions which are applied to funding and grants. Funding body mandates make it clear to both researchers and publishers that the funded research must be published in compliance with specific open access conditions.
A 2011 survey of UK institutions by the Repository Support project showed that only 42% of the 74 returning institutions had a publications policy  so there is clearly still work to be done in ensuring the take-up of these policies.
Examples of Institutional Publication Policies
- University College London [Policy] [Repository]
- University of Glasgow [Policy] [Repository]
- University of Salford [Mandate] [Repository]
Examples of Funders Open Access Policies
- Wellcome Trust Open Access Policy
- British Heart Foundation
- UK Research Councils Open Access Policies
ROARMAP, the Registry of Open Access Repositories Mandatory Archiving Policies lists 50 UK publication policies for institutions, funders and for theses.
4 Cochrane, Tom G. and Callan, Paula A. (2007) Making a Difference: Implementing the eprints mandate at QUT. International Digital Library Perspectives 23(3):pp. 262-268.
5 Research Councils UK and HEFCE work together on Open Access [Press Release]