Printed on: 12/11/2018. Please go to http://policy.umn.edu for the most current version of the Policy or related document.
FAQ

Open Access to Scholarly Articles

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is open access?
  2. Why an open access policy?
  3. What will actually happen under this policy?
  4. What are the "public benefits" of open access?
  5. How does this policy benefit authors?
  6. Does this policy apply to me?
  7. What will I have to do under this policy?
  8. What works are covered by this policy?
  9. What does "scholarly articles" mean?
  10. What works fall outside the "scholarly articles" definition?
  11. How does the policy relate to current University policies on publishing and copyright?
  12. Is the University taking away my rights to my scholarly articles?
  13. What if I don't want to make a work publicly available?
  14. What if I want to delay public access to my article for a period of time after publication? [i.e., I want to follow a publisher embargo period.]
  15. What if a publisher refuses my article because of this policy?
  16. Does this mean I have to pay open access author fees for my articles?
  17. Does this mean I can only publish in open access journals?
  18. I want to know more about waivers of the policy.

    1. What is open access?

      Open access literature is freely available online for anyone to read. Formal definitions also specify that open access literature must be free of copyright limitations or restrictions on reuse, but this policy does not address that aspect of the definition. Authors who make their works available via this policy are free to make their work truly open by selecting open licenses that enable reuse, or to make their work accessible to the world without enabling reuse.

    2. Why an open access policy?

      The goal of this policy is to further access to research and scholarship, at the University of Minnesota and around the world. It is a manifestation of our mission as a public, land-grant institution to make "the knowledge and resources created and preserved at the University accessible to the citizens of the state, the nation, and the world."

      Adopting an open access policy puts us in good company with colleagues at many of the most forward-thinking and prestigious research institutions in the world. Increasingly, both public and private research funding organizations are also adopting open access policies. A list of institutions, organizations, and funders with open access policies is available at http://roarmap.eprints.org/.

    3. What will actually happen under this policy?

      This policy creates a limited right for the University to share scholarly articles with the world in order to foster access to the wealth of knowledge produced at the University of Minnesota. This policy does not require any particular action on the part of authors: it does not require the deposit of articles with the University, or with any other archive; nor does it prevent authors from publishing in any outlet of their choosing. Authors can request that the University's license be waived, and such requests will be automatically granted.

      For authors who do wish to leave the University's license intact, individuals may share their articles themselves, or may look to the Libraries for active support in sharing content. These articles will be made available to the world via our open access repository, the Digital Conservancy (or a similar successor service.) Maintained by University Libraries staff, materials in the Conservancy will benefit from greater exposure to search engines (including Google Scholar), greater accessibility to scholars around the world (and often increased citation counts), and will be preserved and migrated to new distribution formats as those formats inevitably progress.

      Articles that authors choose to share will never be sold for-profit, nor transferred to anyone else for for-profit purposes – the license granted to the University under this policy is flexible, but limited to the goals of open access, dissemination, and preservation. Moreover, sale for profit is expressly prohibited by the terms of the license.

    4. What are the "public benefits" of open access?

      The most obvious public benefit of open access is that research results will be more accessible to more people in more locations. Currently, most individuals have very limited access to research publications – open access makes published results available to researchers and scholars affiliated with smaller institutions or non-profit organizations, and researchers and scholars in developing countries. This may spur additional scholarly progress or entrepreneurial innovation.

      Even individuals who do currently have access to publications via subscription services may find benefits from open access, such as easier collaboration with colleagues at other institutions, more accessible and affordable course readings for students, or by enabling new forms of scholarship such as computational analysis.

    5. How does this policy benefit authors?

As the policy text mentions, open access can "promote greater reach and impact for articles" – a number of studies have shown that articles that are freely available online often have increased citation rates and impact, though these benefits seem to vary across disciplines. Open access articles are also more easily discovered by researchers using online tools such as Google Scholar, and are more easily linked to and discussed in public forums.

While many publishers have policies allowing some sharing of published articles, many authors are interested in retaining more expansive rights, such as the right to use works in their own teaching, or the right to re-use parts of existing works in future works. Although authors retain ownership of all rights in their articles under this policy, the limited grant of rights to the University under this policy can provide leverage for authors to jump-start other rights negotiations with publishers.

    1. Does this policy apply to me?

      This policy applies to both faculty members and "individuals holding faculty-like appointments" as defined in the Board of Regents Policy: Copyright. That policy spells out "faculty-like" employees to be those "who teach or conduct research at the University with a level of responsibility and self-direction similar to that exercised and enjoyed by faculty in a similar activity". That policy also specifies that "[p]ostdoctoral fellows, researchers, and scholars shall have the same ownership rights as faculty and are covered under this policy."

      In short: faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, researchers, scholars, and any other employees who meet the definition of "faculty-like" will be affected by this policy. No other University employees are affected by this policy. Students who are not University employees are not affected by this policy. Students and employees who are not affected by this policy are still welcome to deposit their scholarly works and other appropriate materials in the Digital Conservancy, the University's open access repository.

    2. What will I have to do under this policy?

      Individual authors do not have to take any specific actions under this policy. Authors are already able to upload materials for which they have the necessary rights to the University Digital Conservancy via a convenient online form. Self-upload will be one option for authors to make sure their works are available.

      The University Libraries will also provide additional services for authors who wish to make their articles publicly available, such as routinely harvesting eligible articles from online publications (where this is possible), and depositing them into the University repository with little to no work required by authors. No work will be posted via Library services without first notifying the authors and extending opportunities to exercise waiver options.

    3. What works are covered by this policy?

      The policy applies to all scholarly articles authored or co-authored by faculty (and equivalent individuals) as part of their employment with the University of Minnesota. The policy does not apply to articles completed before the policy is adopted, nor to articles for which the author has agreed to incompatible publication terms prior to adoption of the policy.

    4. What does "scholarly articles" mean?

      The term "scholarly articles" is intended to encompass the kinds of articles in which research results are shared in order to advance research and human knowledge, without expectation of payment on the part of the author(s). There is no intent to require faculty to freely distribute works for which they would commonly receive royalties or other payment.

      An exhaustive and exact definition of the term "scholarly articles" that accommodates the varying publication practices across scholarly disciplines (and new practices that may develop in the future) is not possible. However, typical examples include articles published in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings.

    5. What works fall outside the "scholarly articles" definition?

      Many of the types of works commonly produced by faculty would clearly fall outside the definition of a "scholarly article" - including teaching materials, books, edited volumes, commissioned articles or reports, fiction, poetry, musical compositions, computer code, popular writings, or many other copyrighted works. Regardless of the applicability of the policy, creators are welcome to deposit any such works in the Digital Conservancy, the University's open access repository.

    6. How does the policy relate to current University policies on publishing and copyright?

      Under the policy, authors retain full copyright ownership as specified under existing Regents and Administrative policies. However, the University will now have a limited, nonexclusive license to preserve and provide access to the research produced here.

    7. Is the University taking away my rights to my scholarly articles?

      No. The grant of rights to the University under this policy is a nonexclusive license – that is, an agreement that some of the rights will be shared. The author remains the copyright owner of the work. The University simply has a limited, shared license to save copies for posterity, and make them available to the world.

      As the owner, authors can exercise the copyright in any way they like, including sharing rights with a publisher via a separate nonexclusive license. Authors who wish to negate the University's license, or who choose to publish in an outlet that requires an exclusive license, or who wish to transfer full exclusive ownership to other parties, will need to request an (automatically granted) waiver.

    8. What if I don't want to make a work publicly available?

      Any author may opt-out of granting the license to the University at any time by requesting a waiver of the license for any work. According to the terms of the policy, such waivers must be automatically granted. Authors can request waivers before or after publication.

      Authors who have not requested a waiver of the license can upload their works to the University Digital Conservancy, but are not required to do so. The University Libraries may be providing services to help authors make their works available, but those processes will always include communication with authors: works will not be unilaterally made available by the University on authors' behalf.

    9. What if I want to delay public access to my article for a period of time after publication? [I.e., I want to follow a publisher embargo period]

      Many publishers already allow authors to share their works publicly after a delay of 6 to 18 months. Any author who wishes to delay public access to an article in compliance with such a policy can simply wait until the expiration of such a period before uploading their articles, or express a preference for delay in any communications about distribution of the article via University Libraries support services. The article will still be welcome for deposit in the University Digital Conservancy (or other repositories) after the delay period.

    10. What if a publisher refuses my article because of this policy?

      Few publishers are unwilling to accept articles subject to an institutional open access policy like this one – in fact, many publishers already allow authors to deposit copies of their articles in institutional repositories. However, should a publisher raise difficulties because of this policy, the author may request, and automatically obtain, a waiver of the license for any work.

    11. Does this mean I have to pay open access author fees for my articles?

      No. If you wish to make your work available to the public in its original place of publication, that publisher may require authors to pay fees for such options.  However, this policy does not require payment of such fees, it is aimed at allowing authors, if they so choose, to deposit copies in archives (such as the University Digital Conservancy) that are not the original place of publication.

    12. Does this mean I can only publish in open access journals?

      No. All existing options and venues for publications are compatible with this policy. Authors can still publish in any venue; the license granted to the University under this policy simply provides additional options for authors to make copies openly available if they so choose. If a publisher requires an exclusive license or exclusive copyright transfer for a publication, authors will need to request a waiver of the University's license, but otherwise, this policy should not significantly affect authors' choices of publication venue.

    13. I want to know more about waivers

Authors who do not wish to share rights with the University, or whose publishers require an exclusive license or exclusive transfer of rights can request a waiver. Such waivers are automatically granted.

A waiver invalidates the limited rights that are shared with the University under this policy. Thus, waivers are only needed if the author wishes to invalidate those rights. Waivers are not needed if authors simply do not wish their work to be made available.

  1. I still have questions!

    For any additional questions or concerns, please contact Nancy Sims, Copyright Program Librarian (nasims@umn.edu).

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