My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) focuses on last week's announcement of a new CIHR open access policy. The column touches on many of the issues I raised in my initial blog posting, including the implications for publishers and the mounting pressure on Canada's other granting […]
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Appeared in the Toronto Star on September 10, 2007 as New Research Policy a Victory for "Open Access" As millions of students headed back to school last week, Canadian health researchers learned that change this year extends beyond the composition of their classes. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the […]
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the federal government's health research granting agency, today unveiled a new open access policy for research it funds beginning in 2008. According to the new policy, researchers will be required to make every effort to ensure that their peer-reviewed publications are freely accessible through the Publisher’s website or an online repository within six months of publication. Critics will rightly note that the policy is not iron-clad – publication in an online repository is conditional on the publisher's policy. Accordingly, if a publisher refuses to allow researchers to post their articles, the researcher does not violate the grant requirements by not posting. This leaves publishers with a measure of control, though a growing number of them do permit this form of archiving (database of publisher policies here).
While it is tempting to say that this does not go far enough, it is an exceptionally important development for open access in Canada.
My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) looks at the recently released national science and technology strategy. The column includes new information obtained under the Access to Information Act that highlights publisher opposition to open access in Canada and demonstrates the need for government leadership on the open access issue. I argue that maximizing the value of Canada's investment in research requires far more than tax breaks and improved accountability mechanisms. Instead, government must rethink how publicly-funded scientific data and research results flow into the hands of researchers, businesses, and individuals.
Achieving that goal requires action on two fronts. First, the government should identify the raw, scientific data currently under its control and set it free. Implementing expensive or onerous licensing conditions for this publicly-funded data runs counter to the goals of commercialization and to government accountability for taxpayer expenditures. Ottawa has already taken some important steps in this direction. Last month, it announced that Natural Resources Canada was making its electronic topographic mapping data available to all users free of charge over the Internet. The topographic data, which can be accessed at the aptly-named GeoGratis, provides information on the location of landscape features – such as lakes, rivers and elevations as well as roads, railways and administrative boundaries. This information is used for commercial, non-commercial, and research purposes by governments, academia and the private sector.
Second, Ottawa must pressure the three federal research granting institutions to build open access requirements into their research mandates.
Appeared in the Toronto Star on May 28, 2007 as Science and Tech Strategy a Missed Opportunity Earlier this month, Canada's top government leaders, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Industry Minister Maxime Bernier, and Finance Minister Jim Flahery unveiled the government's new science and technology strategy. Mobilizing Science and Technology […]