Open access: it works best when enforced

The NHMRC is considering responses to its proposal to make research it funds way more open access. OA experts Danny Kingsley and Arthur Smith suggest improvements

Last month the National Health and Medical Research Council sought submissions on going immediate OA on publication. If publishers refuse the council suggested authors’ accepted manuscripts could be made available by named institutional repositories (CMM April 16).

Which is good, but Drs Kingsley and Smith (both ex Cambridge University’s Office of Scholarly Communication) suggest tighter wording to make intent impossible to ignore.

And they call for checks, which institutions could use to make sure OA actually occurs. “There is evidence that even ‘light touch’ compliance checking results in significant behavioural change,” they write. Especially if “there is a significant consequence for non-compliance,” – which could be tying grants to OA rules.

What the NHMRC decides matters. For a start, it would provide a base for Chief Scientist Cathy Foley to work with. Dr Foley says she is “closely considering” an OA strategy (CMM March 18). And whatever the NHMRC does will be hard for the Australian Research Council to ignore.