University implementing open-access policy for faculty publications

Oct. 31, 2011

University administrators have begun implementing the new "open-access" policy approved this fall by Princeton faculty members to expand the public's access to their research.

The policy gives the University and faculty members rights to republish scholarly articles, making it possible for individuals without journal subscriptions to access them. Administrators in the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, Office of the Provost and Princeton University Library are providing guidance to faculty members prior to article submission; have provided language for faculty to append to publishing contracts; and are exploring plans to build a repository for these articles. Administrators have also created an online form for faculty requesting waivers to the policy in individual cases in which a journal's copyright contract prevents republishing.

"The policy is intended to make the faculty's scholarly articles, published in journals and conference proceedings, available to a wider audience," Dean of the Faculty David Dobkin said.

The policy, approved by the faculty at their first meeting of the academic year, Sept. 19, states that faculty members grant The Trustees of Princeton University a "nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all copyrights in his or her scholarly articles published in any medium, whether now known or later invented, provided the articles are not sold by the University for a profit, and to authorize others to do the same."

The new policy protects faculty members from giving away all of their publication rights when they publish refereed and conference articles in a journal. Access to many journals is restricted by subscription, institutional or organizational membership, or other factors.

Under the open-access policy, faculty members may publish their work on University sites, personal websites and other not-for-fee venues. A Princeton-based online repository would allow professors to post their research in a convenient, central location, where the public may easily access it, Dobkin said.

In fall 2010, Dobkin appointed an ad hoc faculty committee to study the issue of open access to faculty publications. Led by Andrew Appel, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Computer Science, the nine-member interdisciplinary committee studied other universities' open-access policies while formulating their recommendations. In March, the committee unanimously approved recommending a policy change to assert the University's right to make faculty articles available to the public. Committee members also strongly recommended the creation of a voluntary database created and maintained by the University to fully realize the benefits of the policy change.

The open-access policy applies only to published articles, and does not apply to books, fiction, poetry, music, film, lecture notes, case studies or unpublished drafts. More information about the policy is available on the Office of the Dean of the Faculty's website.