KAUST goes open access

I’m proud to announce that as of today, KAUST has officially adopted an open access policy!

What it means

Institutional open access (OA) policies are a primary tool in the effort to allow academics to retain control of their own work. MIT and Harvard were the first to adopt such policies; now hundreds of institutions have similar policies.

In short, the policy ensures that KAUST has non-exclusive rights to distribute all research done at KAUST. This right precedes any publishing or copyright agreement terms. It also places a responsibility on KAUST faculty to provide a pre-print of each paper to the library.

The policy has nothing to do with publishing in open access journals (so-called Gold OA). Authors continue to publish in the same manner – and the same journals – as before.

KAUST’s OA policy is based closely on the text recommended by the Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP). HOAP was an extremely valuable resource for us in developing a policy and convincing the faculty, administration, and legal team to approve it.

How it happened

This is the culmination of a process that started back in 2011 with a lunch conversation between Rick Johnson (KAUST librarian and long-time OA advocate) and myself. We were both frustrated that KAUST theses were being “published” in a way that was inaccessible to anyone outside the University. Over the next several months, we successfully worked to ensure that all KAUST theses would be accessible for free to the general public. In fact, the first thesis to be published openly (and for months the only one) was that of my MS student, Manuel Quezada de Luna.
Now anyone can read the currently 367 completed KAUST theses here.

We decided the next order of business was a full institutional open-access policy. With strong support from Jim Calvin (VP for academic affairs) and my faculty colleagues Suzana Nunes and Sahraoui Chaieb, we eventually hammered out something that all could agree on (even the lawyers!) The policy was championed by our new library director, Molly Tamarkin, as soon as she arrived at KAUST earlier this year.

The policy

Here’s the full text of the policy, which at the moment is only available on an internal site. I’ll post a link here when a public announcement is made.

University faculty members, research scientists, post-doctoral fellows, students and employees (“University Research Authors”) grant to the University non-exclusive permission to make available their scholarly research articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles for the purpose of open dissemination.

More specifically, each University Research Author grants to the University a non-exclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly research articles, in any medium, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit, and to authorize others to do the same.

The Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs or its designate may waive application of the license for a particular article or delay access for a specified period of time upon express direction by the author.

Each faculty member or researcher will provide an electronic copy of the author’s final version of each article no later than the date of its publication at no charge in accordance with the guidelines published from time to time by the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

The Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs charges the KAUST Library to develop and monitor a plan to comply with this policy and existing copyright obligations in a manner as convenient for the faculty as possible.

The Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs or its delegate will be responsible for interpreting this policy, resolving disputes concerning its interpretation and application, and recommending changes to the Academic Council from time to time.

The KAUST Library will review this policy after three years.