SSHRC Backtracks on Open Access

Disappointing news from Peter Suber’s excellent Open Access blog, where he reports that the SSHRC has slowed down its quest to adopt open access principles into its research approach.  In October 2004, SSHRC decided to move toward an open access approach that would increase access to its (publicly) funded research.  Following consultations, the funding agency has now stated that "the idea of open access to all research is widely accepted, but presents a number of implementation obstacles, and the community is by and large cautious. Rather than imposing mandatory requirements on researchers to publish via open access, Council chose to increase awareness of open access, pursue discussions with major stakeholders, and gradually incorporate open access provisions in research support programs." It should be noted that an open access requirement does not mean mandating publication in an open access journal.  Rather, it could involve as little as agreeing to post a copy of a published article in an online repository, including the grantee’s own website.

Awareness is good.  Discussions are good.  We should not lose sight of the fact, however, that the public is funding this research.  I was awarded an SSHRC grant last month and would happily agree to open access requirements in return for the support.  Indeed, with nearly a third of the grant proposals in my discipline approved  but unable to receive support due to lack of funding, I’d venture to say that the SSHRC could fully distribute its envelope of funding to peer-reviewed research proposals with an open access requirement built in.  If researchers don’t want to make their work available to the public, don’t apply for the funding. 

One Comment

  1. Alison Meynert says:

    What is the NSERC policy on open access publishing? I searched their site but only found a document from 2004 indicating they were going to have a meeting to discuss the matter.

    Perhaps it would be a good start to require that NSERC/SSHRC/CIHR-funded graduate students and postdocs publish in open access journals.