Adopting a policy

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Adopting authority

  • The policy should be adopted by the faculty, not the administration. There are two main reasons why.
    • First, this will show that faculty wanted the policy, and that it was not forced on them by the administration. The policy will affect faculty more than any other group within the university (e.g. administrators, librarians, staffers, students) and should reflect what they want for themselves. It should be a faculty initiative and be perceived to be a faculty initiative.
    • Second, the kind of policy recommended here includes a grant of non-exclusive rights from faculty to the institution, and this grant of rights should be grounded in faculty consent.
  • Campus entrepreneurs leading the campaign for a policy should be faculty. If the idea and initial momentum came from librarians or administrators, they should find faculty members willing to lead the effort.
  • Note that even when the faculty consent is manifest in a vote, there are good reasons (at least in the US) to get a written affirmation of the policy after the vote.

Educating faculty about the policy before the vote

  • Make clear that the policy aims at depositing in an OA repository, not publishing in OA journals. (In the jargon, it's about green OA, not gold OA.) Hence, it does not limit faculty freedom to submit work to the journals of their choice.
  • Make clear that it's about depositing articles in an OA repository in addition to publishing in journals, not instead of publishing in journals.
  • Make clear that the rights-retention and waiver provisions of the policy assure that authors can comply with the policy and comply with copyright law at the same time. (If there's any doubt about this, see the articles we cite in an earlier section, or mention the approval of your own university counsel.)
  • Make clear that the waiver option guarantees that faculty are free to decide for or against OA for each of their publications. The policy merely shifts the default from non-deposit and non-OA to deposit and OA.
  • Make clear that "softening" the policy to "opt-in" is pointless. Institutions without opt-out policies already have opt-in policies. Faculty at schools without policies may always opt in to the practice of making their work (green or gold) OA.
  • Make clear that the waiver option also gives publishers the right to require a waiver as a condition of publication. Hence, publishers who decide that publishing authors bound by an OA policy is too risky, or that the costs exceed the benefits, may protect themselves at will simply by requiring waivers. Moreover, they may protect themselves without refusing to publish faculty bound by OA policies. Hence, faculty who worry about the policy's effect on certain favorite publishers, such as society publishers, needn't paternalize those publishers by voting down a proposed policy. Instead they should understand that the policy already gives those publishers the means to protect themselves, if they feel the need to do so. (By the way, very few feel the need to do so; the number is in the low single digits at Harvard and MIT.)
    • Faculty who want to take an extra step to protect certain publishers should explain to them how the waiver option enables them to protect themselves. Some publishers may not already understand that. In our experience, publishers who object to university OA policies either don't realize that many include waiver options or don't take those waiver options into account.

Other tips for the adoption process

  • Toward the end of the drafting process, and during the whole of the campus education process, the drafting committee should host a series of face-to-face meetings to answer questions and objections. Don't rush the vote. Keep holding these meetings until faculty stop coming.
  • Where it would help (and only where it would help), point out how a draft policy uses language successfully adopted and implemented elsewhere. Some faculty are not aware of the number of successful policies elsewhere. Some may think the institution is sailing in uncharted waters. Some may strengthen their original OA motivation with the desire to cooperate or compete with certain peer institutions.

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