Librarians Aiding in Compliance of Open Access Rules

In 2015, the Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article discussing new open access mandates, specifically noting how librarians are aiding in compliance.

As more federal agencies begin requiring grant recipients to make research results freely available to the public, college librarians have taken on a new role: helping researchers comply with open-access rules.

A February 2013 memorandum from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said federal agencies with more than $100 million in research-and-development expenditures would have to require that results be available within a year of publication.

New open-access rules at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, among other agencies mean that researchers will risk losing grant support from those sources if they don’t make their findings freely available to the public. Several private funders, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are also shifting to public-access requirements.

And it's only a matter of time before legislation is passed that mandates open access on an even broader scale. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs moved legislation to the Senate floor that matches the 2013 White House memo.

The reaction from libraries is to assist researchers in meeting these new requirements. At the University of Minnesota Libraries, staff members are laying the groundwork for greater oversight of grant compliance. The university also began an institutional open-access policy this year.

Cornell University has created a network of library liaisons to reach out to its colleges and academic centers about research and scholarly communication.

In the past decade, some institutions have built their own repositories for articles and other research materials, putting researchers in the practice of making their findings available after completing a project.

Many experts anticipate that the next step will be to require public availability of full data research — not just research papers — as the next mandate that comes down from funders.

In any case, most institutions have libraries that are well equipped to help researchers comply with these fairly new mandates. For a very long time, librarians tried to convince researchers to make their works publicly available for the moral good of society. Now librarians have a stronger compliance argument to stand behind.

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