Columbia University Joins Compact

[Reproduced from the Columbia University Announcement]

Columbia University Commits to Open-Access Publication Compact

NEW YORK, December 11, 2009 – Columbia University has joined several leading institutions of higher learning in a commitment to a Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity. Other signatories to the compact are Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California at Berkeley.

The compact commits signatories to the timely establishment of mechanisms for underwriting reasonable publication fees for open access journal articles authored by researchers without alternative funding. The effort around the compact arose as a result of discussions within the university community about providing sustainable, efficient, and effective business models for journal publishing. "The growth of this new strategy for support for high quality scholarly communication in the expanding number of open access journals requires our participation and support," said Jim Neal, Columbia’s Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian.

In today’s scholarly publishing environment, financial strain is motivating libraries to seek means other than traditional subscription journals for providing access to intellectual content. OA journals offer such an alternative, while providing the same services common to scholarly journals such as management of the peer-review process, filtering, production, and distribution.

Following from the compact commitment, Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is establishing a fund to help support Columbia faculty, staff, and students who wish to publish in OA journals. The Libraries are currently formulating policy and eligibility requirements for the fund, which will be administered by the Scholarly Communication Program, based at the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS). CDRS currently offers free and for-cost publishing services for Columbia-based scholarly journals, and specializes in support for open access publications.

The Scholarly Communication Program explores effective uses of digital technology for sharing new knowledge. The Program, based at the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS) within Columbia University Libraries/Information Services, highlights innovative approaches to communicating scholarly work and examines related debates over policy and practice, particularly in the context of global research. More information is available online at

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at is the gateway to its services and resources.



University of Ottawa Signs Compact

[Reproduced from the University of Ottawa announcement]


University of Ottawa among North American leaders as it launches open access program

OTTAWA, December 8, 2009 — The University of Ottawa is the first Canadian university to adopt a comprehensive open access program that supports free and unrestricted access to scholarly


The University’s new program includes:

  • a commitment to make the University’s scholarly publications available online at no charge through the University’s repository, uO Research;

  • an author fund to help researchers defray open access fees charged by publishers;

  • a fund to support the creation of digital educational materials organized as courses and available to everyone online at no charge ;

  • support for the University of Ottawa Press’s commitment to publishing a collection of open access books; and

  • a research grant to support further research on the open access movement.

The University of Ottawa also becomes the first Canadian university to join the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity (COPE), adding its name to a list of prestigious institutions including Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California at Berkeley. The signatories of this compact make a commitment to support open access journals that make articles available at no charge to everyone while providing the same services common to all scholarly journals, services such as management of the peer review process, production and distribution.

University of Ottawa researchers have already participated in many significant open access projects. These projects include developing the Canadian Creative Commons license, which ensures authors retain the right of attribution and that their work is accessible; under the leadership of Michael Geist and Ian Kerr, the publication of legal texts that are made available at no charge; and the founding of Open Medicine and Aporia, two open access journals in the fields of medicine and health sciences.

“I am proud that our university is the first one in the country to introduce a comprehensive open access program. Canada’s university has become Canada’s Open Access University,” said Allan Rock, president and vice-chancellor at the University of Ottawa. “The fruit of our faculty’s contributions to academic research will now be more visible, freely accessible and shared with the world.”

Open access research can be easily accessed by anyone, anywhere, without the barrier of costly journal subscription or association membership fees. Broad dissemination of knowledge and research without access barriers is a great benefit to society as a whole.

For more information on the University of Ottawa’s open access program, visit


A "Public Option" for Scholarship

From U C Berkeley News, Winter 2009:

In January 2008, with library collection funds flat and scholarly-journal costs soaring, the campus launched the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII), a pilot program to subsidize scholars who choose to make their work available online at no cost to readers.

Now, as even Ivy League institutions find themselves on shaky financial ground, four elite private universities have joined Berkeley in a commitment to so-called "open access" journals. Declaring that "the economic downturn underscores the significance of open-access publications," Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Berkeley have formed a five-member compact aimed at providing "barrier-free access to information" — from DNA-sequencing data to medical research to sociological studies — to academics and the general public alike.

Read more at "A 'Public Option' for Scholarship".



Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity Announcement

Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California at Berkeley Announce Joint Support for Open-Access Publication

 Additional Research Institutions Invited to Join the Five-Member Compact

 For more information contact:

  • Cornell—John M. Saylor, 607-255-4134
  • Dartmouth—Elizabeth E. Kirk, 603.646.9929  
  • Harvard—Peter Kosewski, 617.495.7793, or Josh Poupore, 617.495.1585
  • MIT—Patti Richards, 617.253.2700
  • UC/Berkeley—Thomas Leonard, 510.642.3773

September 14, 2009—Five of the nation’s premier institutions of higher learning—Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California at Berkeley—today announced their joint commitment to a compact for open-access publication.

Open-access scholarly journals have arisen as an alternative to traditional publications that are founded on subscription and/or licensing fees. Open-access journals make their articles available freely to anyone, while providing the same services common to all scholarly journals, such as management of the peer-review process, filtering, production, and distribution.

According to Thomas C. Leonard, University Librarian at UC/Berkeley, "Publishers and researchers know that it has never been easier to share the best work they produce with the world. But they also know that their traditional business model is creating new walls around discoveries.  Universities can really help take down these walls and the open-access compact is a highly significant tool for the job."

The economic downturn underscores the significance of open-access publications. With library resources strained by budget cuts, subscription and licensing fees for journals have come under increasing scrutiny, and alternative means for providing access to vital intellectual content are identified. Open-access journals provide a natural alternative.

As Dartmouth Provost Barry P. Scherr sees it, “Supporting open-access publishing is an important step in increasing readership of Dartmouth research and, ultimately, the impact of our research on the world.”

Since open-access journals do not charge subscription or other access fees, they must cover their operating expenses through other sources, including subventions, in-kind support, or, in a sizable minority of cases, processing fees paid by or on behalf of authors for submission to or publication in the journal. While academic research institutions support traditional journals by paying their subscription fees, no analogous means of support has existed to underwrite the growing roster of fee-based open-access journals.

Stuart Shieber, Harvard’s James O. Welch, Jr. and Virginia B. Welch Professor of Computer Science and Director of the University’s Office for Scholarly Communication, is the author of the five-member compact. According to Shieber, “Universities and funding agencies ought to provide equitable support for open-access publishing by subsidizing the processing fees that faculty incur when contributing to open-access publications. Right now, these fees are relatively rare. But if the research community supports open-access publishing and it gains in importance as we believe that it will, those fees could aggregate substantially over time. The compact ensures that support is available to eliminate these processing fees as a disincentive to open-access publishing.”

The compact supports equity of the business models by committing each university to the timely establishment of durable mechanisms for underwriting reasonable publication fees for open-access journal articles written by its faculty for which other institutions would not be expected to provide funds.

Additional universities are encouraged to visit the Compact web site and sign on.

Cornell Provost Kent Fuchs offers his perspective on participating in the Compact. “As part of its social commitment as a research university,” Fuchs says, “Cornell strives to ensure that scholarly research results are as widely available as possible. The Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity could increase access to scholarly literature while at the same time ensuring that the valuable services that publishers provide are supported."

A full account of the motivation for the compact can be found in the article “Equity for Open-Access Journal Publishing” published in the open-access journal Public Library of Science Biology.

"Supporting OA journals is an investment in a superior system of scholarly communication," states Peter Suber of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) in Washington, DC, and a fellow of Harvard Law School's Berkman Center and Harvard University's Office for Scholarly Communication. "Before this compact, a number of funding agencies and universities were willing to pay OA journal processing fees on behalf of their grantees and facult. It's significant that five major universities recognize the need to join the effort, extend fee subsidies to a wider range of publishing scholars, enlist other institutions, and start to catch up with their long practice of supporting traditional—or non-OA—journals."

Summing up the Compact, MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif observes, "The dissemination of research findings to the public is not merely the right of research universities: it is their obligation. Open-access publishing promises to put more research in more hands and in more places around the world. This is a good enough reason for universities to embrace the guiding principles of this compact."

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