Open Access: University of Basel Adopts Guidelines
In April, the University of Basel adopted an Open Access Policy that commits it to supporting open access to scientific publications. Silvia Witzig of the Open Access Center and University Library Director Hannes Hug clarify what this means for researchers at the University of Basel.
With this policy the University affirms a commitment to Open Access – why is this important?
Hannes Hug: We are of the conviction that publicly- financed research findings should be accessible to the interested scientific community. Research findings are developed at relatively great expense by universities, and they should be able to access them without a commercial process intervening which benefits publishers and costs the universities a lot of money.
But Open Access is not free: often researchers must pay authors’ fees to a publication.
Hannes Hug: With Open Access periodicals, the traditional mode of financing was turned on its head. The contents are freely accessible to the public, but the contributing authors pay rather high fees to be included in a given journal. Therefore many authors hoped that the University would pay these fees instead of buying subscriptions to periodicals. We have struck a deal with the most important Open Access journals, thanks to which the authors pay between 10 and 50 percent less. That is the financial support that we can offer right now.
The University Library is making its contribution to Open Access by making existing publications available on the edoc server. What role is there for researchers?
Silvia Witzig: We feed the edoc server with data that comes from the research database – this permits quality control, in which we examine the bibliographic details and also the full text. The essential contribution of the researchers is therefore to enter their publications in the database.
The policy encourages the researchers to publish their work with Open Access Standards. To which specifications should they be attentive in their contracts?
Silvia Witzig: A researcher can try to register the right to use his or her publication in Open Access. In the meantime they can view the sample contracts of many publishers that prepare for the possibility of an Open Access publication.
Is it at all possible to negotiate a second release with a notable journal?
Hannes Hug: In discussions with scientists we always hear that they perceive themselves to be in the weaker position relative to the publishers. Therefore the University Library has invited the Consortium of Swiss University Libraries to secure with the large publishers a publication right for Open Access in the framework contracts – that would be the easiest.
Who supports the researchers when questions about publication copyrights arise?
Silvia Witzig: The basic information about Open Access is published on the University Library’s website and we in the Open Access Center advise researchers through telephone or e-mail about relevant questions – such as what to be aware of or the important measures to take in securing an Open Access publication.
What do you hope to gain from the now-adopted Open Access Policy?
Hannes Hug: It would be presumptuous to think that that the University Library alone can make Open Access successful. The University as a whole must focus on this goal, just as many other Universities and research entities have already done. Through Open Access, research results are easier to find, more available, and, by virtue of these qualities, more frequently cited. This creates a storefront window effect for research services.