Leveraging the License: Part I

The Scholarly Communication Department attended several orientations and events for new faculty over the last few weeks. During these events, I have had the privilege of chatting informally with a faculty members about IU Bloomington’s new Open Access Policy. Faculty have a lot of questions about how the policy works, what kinds of scholarship the policy applies to, and author processing charges (or APCs).

The question that has been most difficult to explain quickly and effectively in these informal conversations has been about how faculty can “leverage” or utilize the license established by the Open Access policy when negotiating with potential publishers. This post will explain in more detail what “leveraging the license” means and clarify when in the publishing process faculty should attempt to negotiate. This post on leveraging the OA policy license is part one of a two-part series. The second post will explore the OA policy license in more detail, particularly when it concerns utilizing third-party content.

Our new Open Scholarship website includes a detailed FAQ that answers common questions faculty have about the OA policy. One of the questions listed is, “Will I have to negotiate my copyright transfer with my journal publishers?” Our answer is no. The policy maintains faculty agency and empowers them to make the best decision for their research. Faculty can always embargo their article to comply with their selected journal’s policies or opt out of the OA policy for a specific article.

However, we note that in many cases, it is in the faculty member’s best interest to negotiate. Moreover, the license that IUB OA Policy establishes can support faculty efforts to retain their copyright. Under the question about negotiating copyright transfers we state, “The policy operates automatically to give IUScholarWorks a license in any scholarly articles faculty members complete after its adoption… 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 IUScholarWorks that permits open-access distribution.”

What does this mean in practice? How do you begin to start a conversation with a publisher that has a restrictive publishing agreement? When should you mention the IUB OA Policy and subsequent license? We have created a flowchart to answer these questions:

Open access policy workflow

Flowchart created by Jamie Wittenberg

After your manuscript is complete, you should identify a journal that offers the readership and audience that you are most interested in. If this is an open access journal, once your article is accepted and published you have complied with the OA policy! If this is a closed journal, you will need to determine if your publishing agreement allows self-archiving (or posting an open version of your article in a repository). The Scholarly Communication department is always happy to help faculty review their publishing agreements. If the publishing agreement allows you to share a version of your work, preferably the publisher’s final version (after peer review with typesetting), then you will submit that version to the institutional repository. Archiving the author’s final manuscript will nevertheless meet the OA policy’s requirement. If the journal does not allow self-archiving, it’s time to consider negotiating.

Negotiating with a publisher is both personal and contextual. Your decision to negotiate may be impacted by your level of comfort, goals, co-authors, and the importance of the publication venue. Is this the only venue that makes sense for your article? Does this journal have impressive metrics or important readership? Or are there other publication venues that might accept the article? Is it non-negotiable to you that others have access to your article, regardless of library affiliation or socio-economic status? Asking these questions can help you decide if publisher negotiation is in your best interest. In general, many publishers are familiar with open access policies so starting a conversation about the publishing agreement is not harmful and can help clarify how or if you should continue to negotiate.

After you have reviewed the publishing agreement and you’ve decided that you would like to negotiate, you can contact our Copyright Program Librarian and lawyer, Naz Pantaloni, for guidance. In addition to having expertise in copyright, Naz has worked with several scholars to retain their author rights and is familiar with strategies for negotiating with publishers. Naz will either assist you with preparing an addendum to present to the journal or help you construct a response that includes information about the IUB Open Access policy. One addendum template that Naz might help you utilize comes from the Big 10 Academic Alliance (formerly CIC). An example of a response to a publisher in order to start the negotiation process is found on our Open Scholarship Q&A:

“[Journal] acknowledges that [Author] retains the right to provide a copy of the final manuscript, upon acceptance for [Journal] publication or thereafter, for compliance with the Indiana University Open Access Policy and for public archiving in IUScholarWorks as soon as possible after publication by [Journal].”

If you cannot come to an understanding with your publisher and need to sign over the exclusive rights to your work, you must complete the opt out process.

In a previous post, I wrote about the spectrum of openness that exists and the Scholarly Communication Department’s goal of supporting all manifestations of open. It is worth stating that the IUB Open Access policy is about making content open and available to readers everywhere. But it is also true the OA policy is about author rights. When authors retain their rights, including the right to reproduce, distribute, display, and make derivative works of their scholarship, they retain the life of their work. I have consulted with many faculty members (and graduate students) that need to interlibrary loan their own work because they don’t have access to it. I’ve worked with numerous faculty that wish they would have retained at least some of their rights so that they could make their work available to their students or share it more broadly. In addition to resources like our copyright program and publishing resources, the OA policy provides a mechanism for faculty to find their seat at the negotiation table. I’m excited for what this means for the research profile of IU Bloomington.