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New Open Access and Creative Commons policy at Cambridge

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The University of Cambridge, following the recommendations of the Finch report, has recently announced changes in its own Open Access policy as well as in Creative Commons licences.  What has changed compared to the previous state of affairs?

In two words: not much. The Project Board set up by university has adopted new policy frameworks for OA. There is no revolution.

The University of Cambridge decided to support the dissemination of Open Access. The Green OA model is recommended by the University, as more effective, in particular, less expensive. When it comes to Gold OA, Cambridge is going to support this model but only when funding is guaranteed by the research funder. Nonetheless, the university patrons believe that academics should not be deterred from publishing in the journal of their choice. In brief, The University of Cambridge prefers Green OA, but is not against Gold OA, especially, as Cambridge University Press publishes its own OA journals.

More important than new policy frameworks for OA, is the fact, that Cambridge University Press has announced few day ago, that articles in OA journals can be published with CC-BY licence. It means, that scientific articles can be downloaded, read, re-used and re-distributed for free by the users, as long as they acknowledge the original article. Following this new option, the authors, who want to publish their works in CUS will be able to meet the specifications resulting from new British OA policy. Of course, CC-BY is not the only option for academics:

“Authors publishing Open Access papers in hybrid journals will have the option of a CC-BY licence, but will also be offered a choice of other CC licences (including CC-BY-NC-SA ‘Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike’ and CC-BY-NC-ND ‘Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives’). This option is also extended to full Open Access journals where the author’s funders or institutional policies do not restrict author’s to CC-BY use.”

Does it mean that OA journals from Cambridge University Press will be more accessible for readers? Not necessary. CUS is publishing 150 hybrid journals and only 5 entirely Open Access. So, in fact, the new policy leaves the authors with a variety of choices. They can open their articles big time, but as far as the hybrid model is concerned – a change is negligible. Of course, the choice will be dictated by the funders. For example RCUK requires all its papers to be available online for free.

The British policy on open access may be criticized on many levels, but in some way it leads to gradual changes in Open Access’ reach and scope. Dissemination of CC-BY is a very prominent example.

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