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Open Access

CAUT Policy Statement

The public good is served by the widest and most accessible dissemination of scholarly work. This goal is facilitated when academic staff make their work available in reputable open access venues and foster a culture of open access at their institutions and within their research networks.

1. Definitions
Open access refers to the practice of making scholarly work freely available on the public internet for any person to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, index, access through disability adaptation, or link to the full texts of materials, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.1

Green open access involves authors placing their articles in freely accessible online institutional or disciplinary repositories. Gold open access entails authors publishing in dedicated open access, online journals. Hybrid open access journals allow open access only to articles for which a publishing fee has been paid.

2. Academic Freedom
A fundamental component of academic freedom is the right of authors to choose how and where their research is disseminated. This freedom must not be constrained by institutional or granting council policies or by collective agreement language that require publication in open access journals. Open access requirements are equally well met through the placement of articles in institutional or disciplinary repositories2.

3. Copyright
Academic staff should retain copyright in their work to maintain its integrity, to ensure proper acknowledgement and citation, and to allow self-archiving in institutional or disciplinary repositories. Publication agreements with journals that do not allow self-archiving should be modified to retain author copyright, or at a minimum, allow self-archiving3.

4. Embargo Period
Some non-open access journals restrict for fixed periods of time the release of articles into open access repositories. Such embargos contradict the general principle of scholarly communication that all new knowledge should be made available at the earliest possible moment. If such embargo periods do exist they should be set at a maximum of six months with a view to their eventual elimination.

5. Publication Fees
Many open access journals cover costs through article processing charges, which shift the financial contribution from subscribers to authors. Such fees must be recognized as eligible research funding expenses.

“Predatory" open access journals that provide minimal services and exist only to profit from article processing charges must be avoided.

6. Cost Savings
Open access should not be used as a cost-saving measure to allow administrations to reduce library expenditures. Nor is its purpose to shift the costs of dissemination onto individual academic staff and their grants. Any savings from decreased journal costs should be fully reinvested into research and scholarly communication, including library acquisitions and funds for paying article processing charges incurred by academic staff.

7. Scholarly Societies
Open access presents a potential disruption to scholarly societies that publish scholarly journals and rely on subscription revenues for their operations. Academic staff are encouraged to maintain memberships in scholarly societies even when receiving exclusive access to an association journal is no longer a benefit of membership. All scholarly societies are encouraged to make their publications open access.

8. Implementation
Despite growing acceptance of open access publishing among academic staff, there persists a common misconception that legitimate open access journals are not as rigorous as traditional journals, when in fact the same levels and variations of peer review that exist in traditional journals are mirrored in open access journals.

Individual academic staff, especially those with rank and tenure, can facilitate the free flow of scholarly work by:

  1. publishing in gold open access journals or by practicing green self-archiving;
  2. refusing to publish in, or serve as editors for, journals that do not support open access;
  3. negotiating criteria for renewal, tenure, promotion, and discretionary salary adjustments that recognize open access scholarship;
  4. supporting other academic staff who practice open access, especially when serving on their evaluation committees; and
  5. retaining copyright in their own publications.

Academic Staff Associations can support open access publishing by ensuring collective agreement language recognizes publication in open access venues for the purpose of renewal, tenure, promotion, and discretionary salary adjustments.

Institutional administrations can provide support by:

  1. recognizing for purposes of renewal, tenure, promotion, and discretionary salary adjustments the value of materials made available through open access venues; and
  2. making funds available to support open access initiatives.

Approved by the CAUT Council, November 2016.

1 Adapted from the foundational Budapest Open Access Initiative statement, February 14, 2002 Budapest, Hungary at
2 Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications February 27, 2015 at
3 See the CAUT Intellectual Property Advisory on "Retaining Copyright in Journal Articles" at