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Senate approves next step in Concordia’s open access policy

by The Concordian September 13, 2011
Concordia’s Senate has unanimously recommended that president Frederick Lowy sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge on behalf of the university.
At their monthly meeting on Friday afternoon, university librarian Gerald Beasley encouraged Senate to join the over 300 institutions to sign the agreement, which by definition gives users free access to complete academic works.
The declaration will not require any additional action on the part of academic authors, according to Beasley. “[The agreement] doesn’t either limit or bring any new responsibilities to faculty researchers or anybody producing creative work or research at the university,” Beasley said.
Moreover, by submitting their research into an open access repository, an author retains the rights to their work. “[Researchers] actually usually find they have more rights at the end of the open access sequence than they do when signing agreements with academic publishers, many of whom will sign away their rights in exchange for publication,” the university librarian explained.
Beasley lent his support to the motion in preparation for an annual conference organized by the original signatories of the document which will occur in North America in November.
Beasley added that the declaration would serve as a framework for the open access initiatives already in place or in the works at Concordia, such as its membership in the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions launched in August and the new open access author fund.
“The open access author fund, which is about to be officially announced but is already in place, is an author fund that will encourage and support academic authors seeking to publish in open access venues for which they are sometimes charged a fee,” Beasley explained. “That’s the kind of initiative that really benefits from having the kind of framework that the Berlin Declaration offers.”
Senate also set a precedent in April 2010 when they passed a resolution which required researchers to upload their research to Concordia’s repository, paving the way for other open access initiatives at the institution.
The only other Canadian signatories, according to Beasley, are the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2003, and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries. Concordia would therefore be the first English university in Canada to sign the declaration.
Although there was some debate amongst senators as to whether Senate had the authority to sign such a document, it was agreed that it was within Lowy’s purview to sign it as president, as it is an academic matter.

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