York University Open Access Policy FAQ

This FAQ was developed as part of the Open Access Open Data Steering Committee, Open Access Policy & Implementation Working Group’s efforts towards developing a policy on open dissemination of research at York University.  This FAQ reflects both general and specific questions arising from discussions with faculty and other stakeholders.

What is “Open Access”?

In accordance with the Budapest Open Access Initiative, “open access” to research scholarship is understood to mean “its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download,  copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.”

What is an Open Access Policy?

An Open Access Policy sets forth a commitment from York University, its faculty and its affiliated researchers, to disseminate the fruits of research and scholarship as widely as possible in alignment with the principles of Open Access (OA) and the guidelines of the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

Why should we have a policy on open access?

The enduring goal of a university is to create and disseminate knowledge. York is committed to disseminating the research performed at the university in ways that make it widely accessible, while protecting the intellectual property rights of its authors. Changes in technology offer opportunities for new forms of both creation and dissemination of scholarship through Open Access (OA).  The act of posting increases visibility of and access to research.  Open Access also offers opportunities for York University to fulfill its mission of creating and preserving knowledge in a way that opens disciplinary boundaries and facilitates sharing knowledge more freely with the world.  

How will it work?

The policy establishes a broad baseline commitment, on the part of York University and its researchers, to making scholarship freely available through an open access repository. A number of open access repositories are already used by many York researchers. The policy establishes the expectation that York University researchers will submit their scholarly articles to the open digital repository at York University (Yorkspace, Osgoode Digital Commons) or its equivalent.  The policy also reflects a commitment on the part of the University to invest in and support its institutional repository.  

Articles should be submitted to the repository as early as possible, ideally between the date of acceptance and the date of publication. If applicable, an embargo date can be set to meet publisher requirements.  Researchers are asked  to submit revised versions of manuscripts following peer review and post-publication, unless prohibited by the publisher, so that the repository contains the final version of the published article. Waivers can be obtained by application to the Provost.

Is this policy unique?

No. Faculties at over 117 other leading institutions have adopted similar policies.  Examples include: Harvard U., Duke U., Stanford U., MIT, University College London and the University of Helsinki.  Canadian institutions with Open Access policies include University of Ottawa, Concordia U., Windsor University, Simon Fraser University. The proposed policy for York was influenced by these policies, but was shaped to reflect the unique characteristics of our institution.  Global institutional Open Access policies can be accessed via the ROARMAP database. ROARMAP also makes available data visualizations to illustrate global adoption.

Do funding agencies require open research dissemination?

Yes, many research funders require or strongly support such efforts. For instance, the Tri-agency Open Access Policy now requires that any article derived from their grant-funded research must be deposited in an open access repository such as PubMed Central or an institution’s open access repository such as Yorkspace. Other funding agencies worldwide have similar mandates, such as the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Australian Research Council (ARC) , and all four UK higher education funding bodies (e.g. HEFCE).

A list of the many institutions and funders that already have similar policies can be found here: http://www.opendoar.org/

What kinds of works would this policy apply to?  

The policy applies to “scholarship,” which is typically presented in peer-reviewed scholarly articles, book chapters, and conference proceedings. Many of the written products of faculty effort may not fall into this category: e.g. books and edited collections, open conference papers, newspaper and magazine articles, blogs and social media commentary, fiction and poetry, performances, artworks, ephemeral writings, lecture notes, lecture videos, software, or other such works. The York University policy does not and is not meant to address these other classes of work. However, faculty are encouraged to enhance the visibility and preservation of all research-related outputs and the democratization of knowledge by making their work freely available online.

How does this policy affect the freedom of faculty to publish their work in the journal of their choosing?

It doesn’t.  This policy fully respects faculty freedom to submit new work to the journals of their choice. However, the policy reminds researchers that they need not work as authors, editors, or referees for publishers who act against their interests (in particular, their interest in having their research read). Moreover, the policy signals a commitment by the university to support and encourage faculty and researchers electing to publish their work in open access journals, or seeking permission to deposit published articles in its institutional repositories.

How does the Policy impact me?

The Policy does not impose any new obligations upon York University faculty and researchers. Rather the Policy allows York University faculty and researchers to choose to submit their scholarly articles to the open digital repository at York University or an equivalent repository.  Faculty and researchers may choose to allow open access to their submitted articles right away, or may elect to embargo their articles, limiting access for a specified time period.

It is recognized that an embargo period or other restrictions may be imposed by policies of the publisher of the scholarly article. The policy is also intended to offer institutional support and leverage to authors seeking to negotiate better contractual terms (i.e. terms that allow open access online archiving) with publishers.

How does this policy affect tenure and promotion?

It doesn’t.  Faculty still choose where and when to publish.  Faculty may self-archive their articles in an open access repository of choice. The policy does not require deposit in the institutional repository in order for research articles to be considered for promotion, tenure, or other forms of internal assessment and review. (Note that, in this respect, the policy stops short of the Budapest Open Access Initiative guidelines).

Would the policy apply to articles I wrote before the policy was adopted?  

The policy applies to new articles.  If you wish to deposit articles written prior to the adoption of the policy, you are encouraged  to do so. Furthermore, the policy applies only to articles written while a faculty member at, or researcher affiliated with, York University.

Would the policy apply to co-authored papers?

Yes, the policy applies to co-authored papers where one or more authors is a York faculty member or researcher. Joint authors are those who participate as authors in the preparation of the article with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of the whole.  They share ownership of copyright in the resulting work and, in Canada, must act in concert or obtain permission from all co-owners before exercising an exclusive right. As such, co-authors are not advised to deposit an article in any repository without the knowledge and consent of the co-authors.

What if my article includes images or other works for which I have permission to publish only in print, not in an online repository?

If the copyright owner withheld permission to publish the image except in a print journal,  that image ought not to be included in Yorkspace/Osgoode Digital Commons.  If appropriate, the article could be submitted without that image or work.  It is advisable for faculty and researchers to obtain permissions from copyright owners that expressly permit the online distribution of the final article. However, where permission was obtained to include the image or other work without any such specified restrictions as to the mode or manner of distribution of the final article, then the author of the article should proceed to deposit the article, including the authorized image or work, in an online repository as he or she otherwise would.

What version of my article gets deposited?  What about version control?

Faculty and researchers are free to choose which version of the article to deposit. It could be a pre-print (prior to peer review), a post-print (after peer review but not publisher’s copy), or the final published version.  As a general rule and subject to the relevant publication agreement, it is preferable to publish the most recent or final version of a published article (and to negotiate the terms of the publication agreement accordingly). Both Yorkspace and Osgoode Digital Commons accepts the latest version possible under the publisher’s contract (as supplied by  the author), and will, wherever possible, provide a link to and citation information for the published version, to make clear that the published version is the preferred version and that the YorkSpace/Osgoode Digital Commons copy is a secondary copy for archival purposes. The presence of the secondary version will provide access to readers who do not have access to the final published version, and will provide an additional opportunity to discover the article for those who do.  

Will this policy harm the journal publishers?

There is no evidence that it will.  The policy allows each author to decide where to publish his or her work and how to accommodate the requirements of a chosen publisher.  Many publishers already permit authors to archive the final author’s manuscript in an institutional repository (see Sherpa Romeo site for a listing of publishers that allow deposit of articles in an institutional repository like Yorkspace or Osgoode Digital Commons ). If a publisher wants the release of an open access copy of the author’s final manuscript delayed for 6 months or a year so as not to undermine subscription revenue, the York University policy can accommodate that embargo.  Finally, if a publisher absolutely objects to the license granted to Yorkspace or another repository, the author can obtain a waiver.  

When choosing to archive articles in Yorkspace or another repository, authors will grant the repository a non-exclusive license that permits the article to be made available and distributed as Open Access. No rights are transferred to the repository. Either the author(s), or the journal publishers to whom  copyright has been transferred in a Publisher Agreement, remain the copyright owner(s) and can continue to exercise exclusive rights as they otherwise would.

Who can answer questions that are not on this list?

You can send queries to OA-CONTACTS@YORKU.CA