The University of Southampton

100th University mandate announced in international Open Access Week

Published: 30 October 2009

Last week’s international celebration of Open Access was given added momentum by the announcement of the world’s 100th Open Access Mandate, from the University of Salford, UK.

This was the first-ever internationally designated Open Access Week (19-23 October), providing an opportunity to broaden awareness and understanding of Open Access to research and to celebrate the successes achieved by the Open Access movement, within the global research communities and the world’s higher education institutions.

The first Open Access Mandate was adopted by the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton. In 2002 ECS proposed and then mandated that all of its own research output must be made accessible free for all on the Web in order to maximize its usage and impact.

While mandates at first grew slowly, despite coming from significant national research funding councils, such as the NIH in the US and RCUK in the UK, last year’s adoption of mandates by Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and UCL provides a strong indication that the next steps in the growth of Open Access will be exponential, according to Professor Stevan Harnad, Archivangelist of the OA Movement.

‘With the world's 100th Open Access mandate, the global Academy - the "Slumbering Giant" of Open Access - is showing irreversible signs of awakening,’ said Stevan Harnad. ‘Not all research is funded, but virtually all of it originates from universities. The coincidence of the 100th mandate with worldwide Open Access Week makes it look ever more likely that the planet is heading toward universal OA at long last, to the everlasting benefit of research, researchers, their universities, their funders, the R&D industries, and the tax-paying public that supports the research and for whose benefit it is all being conducted.’

Professor Martin Hall, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Salford, commented: ‘I am delighted that Salford's Open Access mandate is the 100th in the world and that it coincides with the first international Open Access Week. Through Open Access the University of Salford can now fully contribute to the local and global knowledge economy by sharing Salford’s proud tradition for research with all.”

Professor Peter Suber, another leading voice in the OA movement, also welcomed Salford’s adoption of Open Access: ‘Funder and university OA policies enlarge the volume of peer-reviewed OA research and educate researchers about their OA options,’ he said.

‘The large number of institutions with strong policies, the large volume of research liberated, and the large number of researchers benefiting as authors and readers all make very clear that the OA fire has been lit in many places. We needn't worry that it will go out. Each new policy brings us closer to a tipping point of deep change in the ways that researchers disseminate peer-reviewed research and in the ways that everyone benefits from the sharing and acceleration of that research.’

Open Access Week was marked in many countries across the world: it built on the momentum begun by the student-led national day of action in 2007 and carried forward by the 120 campuses in 27 countries that celebrated Open Access Day in 2008. SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition) the PLoS (The Public Library of Science), and Students for FreeCulture (last year’s organizers) welcomed new key contributors for 2009: OASIS (the Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook); Open Access Directory (OAD); and (Electronic Information for Libraries), which spearheaded events in developing and transitional countries. Partner organizations also engaged their communities in every corner of the globe.

Dr Les Carr of the School of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton and Director of EPrints at ECS which provides the software to run many of the world’s leading repositories, underlined the importance of all this concerted effort: ‘It’s important to pay tribute to the co-ordinated action of the international research community,’ he said, ‘including funding councils and research institutions across the globe which have worked in harmony through proactive local policies (mandates) to bring about international Open Access through an established network of research repositories.’

Since Salford's announcement, another five mandates have been implemented, bringing the global total of institutional mandates to 105.

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

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