KAUST adopts Open Access policy

More than a decade has passed since the announcement of what many observers consider to be the birth of the Open Access movement - the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002. Since then, universities and research funders from around the world are increasingly adopting policies aimed at ensuring research is deposited in open institutional repositories. This summer KAUST became one of the first university's in the region to adopt an Open Access policy.

In what is seen as an advancement in scholarly communication the Open Access policy is intended to give KAUST a means through which to make published, scholarly articles authored by the University's researchers available publically and in a timely fashion. The purpose of the public archive is to disseminate the results of research conducted by the faculty and other university researchers as widely as possible and to improve the visibility of articles for researchers.

The journey involved in KAUST having its own Open Access policy has been ongoing. Planning first started in early 2012 but it wasn't until June 30 of this year that the policy was finally in place. The process involved various committees compromised of faculty members, researchers and library members meeting to discuss and thrash out the various nuances of the policy and how it could be best implemented. Mohamed Ba-essa the Digital Repository Specialist in the University library explains, "From March 2013 up until May 2014 the committee met up more than fifteen times to discuss procedures and policies. Luckily our hard work paid off when our proposal was accepted."

In November Ba-essa and Dr. J.K. Vijayakumar, the Collections and Information Services Manager of the University Library, were asked to speak at the Sharjah International Book Fair/ALA Library Conference at Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates to discuss KAUST's efforts in promoting and establishing the first mandated Open Access policy in the region. "We were there promoting KAUST and to draw attention to the effort that went into establishing the first mandated Open Access policy in the region. Right after that conference we received really good feedback and noticed many universities in the region are now starting to think about absorbing and implementing similar open access plans like ours."

"It has really been a success story. In early 2012 when this policy was first brokered it was only an idea but now it has been fully realized it is such a joy to see it finally implemented. We now have plans for a lecture series, a workshop, and for KAUST to support similar policies in the region."

This policy is open to University faculty members, research scientists, post-doctoral fellows, students and employees who author or co-author published scholarly articles while working at or enrolled in the University. The office of the Vice President for Academic affairs or its delegate will be responsible for interpreting the policy, resolving disputes in regards to interpretation and application, and recommending changes to the Academic Council from time to time.

- by David Murphy, KAUST News