Open Access Policy FAQ

What is an Open Access Policy?

An open access policy provides a basis for Stony Brook University to preserve the work of its scholars in its online repository, Academic Commons, (or other open access archives) and to provide access to that work to anyone who seeks it.

Open access policies are part of a rapidly growing movement in academia to develop new modes of scholarly publication. Faculties of universities, schools, and departments are establishing open access policies to make their research and scholarship more accessible to researchers, scholars, educators, policymakers, and citizens worldwide.

What are the benefits of the policy?

Compliance with Grants Funders’ Public Access Mandates

Essentially all federal funding agencies now require that all manuscripts/papers that result from federal funding must be made available via an open access outlet. It is now a compliance issue that both the institution and the PI are responsible for following. In terms of enforcement, most of these agencies require that PIs list a link to the open access website associated with all publications cited in progress reports or in applications for renewal of funding. For papers in journals that are not open access, that typically means posting the final accepted version of a manuscript in a repository. This is part of the reason why so many universities have adopted such a policy and, like us, many more are now in the process of doing so. If we adopt open access as a university policy and stand up a repository, that fulfills the federal mandate provided that PIs follow through with posting. Even if we elect not to adopt  open access as a University policy, the requirement still stands with respect to the products of federally funded research and so we still need the library repository to enable our PIs to comply.

Increasing Access to Scholarship

Open access facilitates the free exchange of scholarly information. Scholars at SBU and other major universities have long enjoyed the benefit of access to most (although not all) research publications, but few other institutions can provide comparable access. This open access policy ensures maximum access to the work being done at SBU no matter the location of those interested in the work. To aid in discoverability, materials in the repository are assigned accurate metadata and optimized for discovery via search engines.

Aiding Preservation

The SBU open access repository, Academic Commons, provides a persistent URL for each deposited object and secure replicated storage (both onsite and offsite), ensuring that its contents will continue to be available to readers in the future.  Many other open access repositories ArXiv, PubMed Central, for example) have a similar preservation protocol.

Aiding Retention of Rights

The open access policy can enable SBU to negotiate directly with publishers on behalf of its authors, helping to simplify and expedite the process of publication and deposit. The terms of the policy may also allow SBU to simplify the process of complying with any open access research funder policies that apply to SBU publications.

Have other universities done this?

Yes, hundreds of universities have implemented open access policies, including Rutgers, University of Delaware, Columbia University, University of California, University of Florida, Kansas State University, and many others.  See a list of universities in the US that have policies.

Research funders are supporting such efforts as well. For instance, the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Gates Foundation, and many more now require posting of articles derived from research they fund in the open-access repository.

How have publishers responded to open access policies?

Many academic publishers have become supporters of university repositories. Their publication agreements often allow authors to deposit a draft or sometimes even the final published version of the article. For example, the University Libraries have identified the top journals in which articles by SBU faculty have appeared most often in recent years. Of those journals, most of them include in their standard agreement a provision allowing deposit of some version of the article with a university repository.

Will the policy affect where I can publish my work?

No. The policy does not play any role in the publishing process until after a paper is accepted for publication by the journal of your choice. The policy does not mandate publication in open access journals; you continue to be free to publish where you choose, based on whatever criteria are most important to you.

Will this policy harm journals, scholarly societies, small friendly publishers, or peer review?

No.  There is no empirical evidence that even when all articles are freely available, journals are canceled. The major societies in physics have not seen any impact on their publishing programs despite the fact that for more than 10 years, an open access repository (arXiv) has been making available nearly all of the High Energy Physics literature written during that period. If there is downward pressure on journal prices over time, publishers with the most inflated prices – which tend to be the commercial publishers – will feel the effects sooner. Journals will still be needed for their value-added services, such as peer review logistics, copyediting, typesetting, and maintaining web sites.

How does the open access policy relate to the public access policies of some research funders?

The open access policy resonates with policies such as the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy, which requires the published results of NIH-funded research be made publicly available through PubMed Central. The proposed SBU policy accepts deposit with PubMed Central and other open repositories as satisfying the commitment to open access; an author would not have to deposit the same article twice.

The proposed Fair Access to Science & Technology Research Act (FASTR), currently before Congress, would implement similar mandates at a number of federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation.

What would I have to do to comply with this policy?

The policy requires just two things:  (1) depositing a copy of your article in an open access repository like the SBU Academic Commons and (2) retaining the rights (which the policy itself authorizes) to do so.

Depositing the copy can be done online and should only take about 10 minutes.

The majority of journals permit author self-archiving (i.e., disposition in a repository) as a matter of policy.  In other cases, authors can negotiate for their rights by attaching an author addendum to the publisher contract.  Model addenda will be available for SBU authors.

If the publisher objects to SBU’s non-exclusive right, you can submit a waiver request and the waiver will be automatically granted.

Why are we doing this?

The goal is expressed in the first line of the policy: “The faculty, students and staff of Stony Brook University are committed to sharing our research, scholarship and creative work as widely as possible.”

Our SBU researchers are already publishing open access (more than 2,000 articles to date), or sharing drafts of their grants-funded research articles to comply with public access mandates. These included highly-cited articles authored by SUNY Distinguished Professors.

What is open access?

Open access to scholarly journal articles and other works means that these are accessible at no cost on a journal website or in a repository committed to long-term archiving, and available for all to read, download, print, copy, share, etc. (attribution always required, of course).

How does open access affect peer review?

Open access is compatible with peer review.  Open access concerns what happens to an article after it has been accepted for publication.  High quality journals will continue to exercise peer review in order to maintain their place in scholarly publishing.  Open access promotes the sharing of scholarly works by making them widely available.

What does the policy do for me?

The web makes it possible for faculty to share their articles widely, openly, and freely; in addition, research has repeatedly shown that articles available freely online are more often cited and have greater impact than those not freely available. While many faculty already make their writings available on their web pages, some are prevented from doing so by perceived or actual limits set on such sharing in their publisher copyright transfer agreements. This policy will allow you to legally make your writings openly accessible, and it will enable SBU to help you do so.

What’s in it for SBU?

The policy would increase the impact of SBU research by making it more widely available. Studies show a very large citation advantage for open access articles, ranging from 45% to over 500%.  The citation advantage of SBU open access articles is 127%.

What mechanisms might be provided to render compliance as easy as possible?

The Scholarly Communication website which will provide:

  • Resources to discover publishers’ sharing and copyright policies
  • An online waiver request form
  • Link to online author addendum for use with the publisher’s contract
  • Online submission of articles to the SBU repository (Academic Commons)
  • A contact person to provide answers to faculty questions

Will this policy harm those in tenure processes who need to show publication in high quality journals?

No.  Most scholarly journals permit sharing of either the pre- or post-print article draft.  For the few journals that do not permit sharing, the opt-out option of the Policy allows authors to receive a waiver.

What do I have to do to comply with this policy?

The policy operates automatically to give SBU a license in any scholarly articles faculty members complete after its adoption.

To be thorough, SBU recommends that you communicate this policy to your publisher and add to any copyright license or assignment for scholarly articles an addendum stating that the agreement is subject to this prior license. That way, you will avoid agreeing to give the publisher rights that are inconsistent with the prior license to SBU that permits open access distribution. SBU provides a suitable form of addendum for this purpose. Whether you use the addendum or not, the license to SBU still will have force.

What kinds of writings does this apply to?

It applies to “scholarly articles.” Using terms from the Budapest Open Access Initiative, scholarly articles are articles that describe the fruits of research and that authors give to the world for the sake of inquiry and knowledge without expectation of payment. Such articles are typically presented in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and conference proceedings.

Many written products are not encompassed under this specific notion of scholarly article, such as books, popular articles, commissioned articles, fiction and poetry, encyclopedia entries, ephemeral writings, lecture notes, lecture videos, or other copyrighted works. The Open Access Policy is not meant to address these kinds of works.

What version of the paper is submitted under this policy?

The author’s final version of the article; that is, the author’s manuscript with any changes made as a result of the peer-review process, but prior to publisher’s copy-editing or formatting.

What is an “author’s final version”?

The “author’s final version” of a work is the last document that you send to the publisher, after the completion of the peer review process.

Even though this document—sometimes called a “final manuscript” or “accepted manuscript”—might be almost identical to the published version of the paper, your final manuscript is typically treated differently than the published version for purposes of licensing and author rights.

A final manuscript is not the same as a “page proof.” You provide the publisher with your final manuscript. The publisher then provides you with a page proof for review just prior to publication.

Should I deposit a final manuscript even if the work is not covered by the policy?

In most cases, license agreements grant you more extensive rights to distribute the author’s final version than they do to the published version.

Much of your work—anything authored before the date the Open Access Policy was passed, for example—does not fall under the Open Access Policy.

In these cases, your right to distribute your work to others (including online) is limited by whatever agreement you reached with the publisher.

Thus, even when you are not allowed to distribute the published version, you may be able to make your final manuscript available for download in SBU Academic Commons without violating the license agreement. Let us investigate this for you and we’ll make a recommendation.

Does the policy apply to articles I’ve already written?

The policy doesn’t apply to articles that were completed before the policy was adopted, nor to any articles for which you entered into an incompatible publishing agreement before the policy was adopted. The policy also does not apply to any articles you write after leaving SBU.

Does the policy apply to co-authored papers?

Yes. Each joint author of an article holds copyright in the article and, individually, has the authority to grant SBU a non-exclusive license. Joint authors are those who participate in the preparation of the article with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of the whole.

Why does the policy include an opt out? Doesn’t that undermine the policy?

One concern raised was the importance of an opt out for junior faculty who do not want to jeopardize their ability to work with certain publishers. Another was the desire to comply with a certain society’s policies even if in conflict with this policy.

Even with an opt out option, the policy changes the default for author’s rights. The new given is that SBU has rights to openly share SBU faculty work and can extend rights to the authors for their use as well.

Could I retract a paper later if a publisher required me to do so?

It would be possible to remove a paper, particularly in cases involving a legal dispute.

Is SBU taking the rights to my writing?

No. This policy grants specific nonexclusive permissions to SBU. You still retain ownership and complete control of the copyright in your writings, subject only to this prior permission. You can exercise your copyrights in any way you see fit, including transferring them to a publisher if you so desire. However, if you do so, SBU would still retain its license and the right to distribute the article from its repository.

What will SBU do with the articles?

SBU operates its own open access repository, Academic Commons, to make available the scholarly articles provided under the policy. SBU ensures its availability, longevity, and functionality, to the extent technologically feasible. The repository is backed up, mirrored, and made open to harvesting by search services such as OAIster and Google Scholar. Adjustments will be made to the deposit processes to make it as convenient as possible. SBU may further allow others to distribute the content, provided that the articles are not sold for profit. For instance, faculty at other institutions could be given permission to make copies for free distribution directly to their students. However, SBU does not have– and cannot grant to others –the right to sell the articles for a profit or to sell a book containing the articles for a profit.

Can my articles be used to provide search or other services by companies such as Google?

Yes, the license allows SBU to enable the articles to be harvested and indexed by search services, such as Google Scholar, so that they can more readily be found, and to be used to provide other value-added services as long as the articles themselves are not sold for a profit. SBU also could authorize use of the articles in a commercial service that provides information extracted from the articles (but not the full text itself), such as bibliographic data or citation lists. Any arrangements would be consistent with the goals of open access and ensuring wide visibility and availability of scholarly articles.

How is granting a nonexclusive license to SBU compatible with SBU being able to exercise ‘all rights under copyright’?

The legal framework for copyright is that you can’t give away what you don’t have. SBU will have been granted nonexclusive rights, and will not be able in turn to grant exclusive rights. SBU, however, will be able to exercise all of the other rights under copyright, including reproducing, displaying, distributing, and making derivative works of articles covered by the policy, as long as these activities are not done for profit.

Contact & Resources

For information about open access and the SBU Academic Commons, contact:

Darren Chase, Head of the University Libraries Center for Scholarly Communication,

email darren.chase@stonybrook.edu call 631.632.9830 (2-9830 on campus).

Discover SBU Open Access Many Stony Brook University researchers are publishing in quality, high-impact, peer-reviewed open access journals. To date, more than 2000 open access articles have been published by SBU researchers and faculty.

"Do Open Access Articles Have An Impact?" by Robert Tolliver

“Do Open Access Articles Have An Impact?” by Robert Tolliver, Head of Science Library

Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARMAP) See the hundreds of Universities in the United States with open access policies.

Stony Brook University Academic Commons open access scholarly repository and publishing platform

Stony Brook University Center for Scholarly Communication services, resources and information on scholarly publishing, research data, open education, open access and copyright

Columbia University Libraries Geoscience Journal Policy on Self-Archiving the 20 journals that have published the largest number of articles by authors based at Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory during the period from January 2006 through October 2010.
Some content by Columbia University Scholarly Communication Program, shared via Creative Commons / CC BY 3.0