Open Access and the challenge of monitoring policy compliance

Many countries and research funding agencies adopted open access policies to research. All open access policies mandate open and immediate access to published scientific articles- in some instances with a maximum of one year embargo period. Furthermore, it is mandatory to provide machine-readable metadata of articles. Though the requirements differ from one funding agency to another, in most of the cases, researchers have to provide DOI (digital object identifier) number, grant number, etc. There are also funding agencies asking grant recipients to put a logo or an emblem of the funder on the published scientific article- i.e. to acknowledge funders’ financial contribution.

After all, genuine open access is more than publishing on open access journal or depositing articles in an institutional repository- other requirements, which are crucial for scholarly materials dissemination and consumption should be fulfilled. Nevertheless, ‘not all the articles that are made available online have been done so in compliance with existing OA policies,’ says Mafalda Picarra, open access researcher at the Jisc, UK.

Research conducted on the degree of compliance indicates that a significant number of researchers (grant recipients) are either totally noncompliant or only partially compliant with open access policy requirements. This has become an issue of great concern for open access advocates. But why researchers are failing to fully comply with open access? There is no easy answer to this question as there is no comprehensive research that makes thorough analysis to respond to this very question.

According to Mafalda Picarra, monitoring open access compliance is a complex task. The challenge primarily emanates from the lack of appropriate enforcement mechanisms. Despite making open access publishing mandatory, there are still funding agencies who do not have proper ways of ensuring it. Moreover, it is difficult to monitor open access compliance. Perhaps, this is due to the fact that researchers use different platforms to publish their research output. Another factor, according to A study conducted on Springer Nature OA authors, is lack of understanding among researchers about funders’ open access policy requirements. This makes the task of monitoring compliance, both manually and in an automated fashion, very complicated.

The role open access plays for research and innovation has become increasingly evident. Open access cannot achieve its goals and objectives unless researchers comply with funders’ open access requirements. This makes the need for compliance, proper enforcement of open access policies, indispensable for the realization of open access goals.

Organizations are working to fill this gap, lack of compliance, using manually and automated monitoring mechanisms. United Academics, an open access foundation based in the Netherlands, offers open access compliance certification services. Jisc and Symplectic are trying to develop similar tools specifically designed for the UK-based research funding agencies. ‘However, such systems are still sparse,’ writes Mafalda Picarra.

Pasteur4oa | Monitoring Compliance with Open Access policies

Biomedcentral | Open access compliance: supporting Springer Nature authors

OALibrary | Get your open access Compliance Note

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