The University of Southampton

UK still leads in Open Access, reports ECS, but not for long

Published: 3 June 2009

With the announcement today (Wednesday 3 June) that University College London has just adopted the UK's 22nd (and the world's 84th) mandate to make all of its research output Open Access (by depositing it in UCL's Institutional Repository, UCL Eprints), it is clear that the United Kingdom continues to lead the world in Open Access.

With its 13 funder mandates and 9 institutional/departmental mandates so far, the UK still has the planet's highest proportion of Open Access Mandates. But the rest of the world is catching up (see Figure).

Dr Alma Swan of Key Perspectives and University of Southampton, has just documented how mandates to provide Open Access to research output have almost doubled globally in the year that has elapsed since Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences adopted the world’s 44th Open Access mandate in May 2008.

The world's first Open Access mandate was adopted in 2002 by the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS). Southampton had previously designed, in 2000, the first free, Open Source software for creating Open Access Institutional Repositories, Eprints, now used the world over.

In 2004 the UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology (as urged by evidence provided by the University of Southampton and Loughborough University) recommended that “all UK higher education institutions establish institutional repositories on which their published output can be stored and from which it can be read, free of charge, online [and] that Research Councils and other Government funders mandate their funded researchers to deposit a copy of all of their articles in this way.” Research Councils UK went on to make a clean sweep, with all seven councils mandating Open Access in 2006-8.

Professor Stevan Harnad, leader and archivangelist for the world-wide Open Access movement, and a Professor in the School of Electronics and Computer Science, comments: 'Alma Swan's analysis shows that the UK is at last going to lose its lead, as the global growth spurt of mandates we had all been awaiting appears to have begun.

'The globalization of Open Access mandates is of course something that all UK universities heartily welcome as a win/win outcome, optimal and inevitable for research and researchers worldwide.

'Open access is essentially reciprocal. The only way every university on the planet can gain open access to the research output of every other university on the planet is by each providing open access to its own research output.’

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel. +44(0)23 8059 5453.

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