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I am a Professor of Law and the Director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at the American University, Washington College of Law and am a founding member of the Creative Commons board.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Open Access and Incremenatlism

Arthur Sale has posted a very nice paper called The Patchwork Mandate that is directly in line with the advice I have been giving to open access advocates and institutional repository managers on a number of campuses.

He argues that if conditions are not ripe for putting an institution-wide deposit mandate in place, advocates should target department heads or faculties and similarly-situtated officials who could mandate deposit of research papers produced within the unit into the institutional repository. He is exactly right.

He is right for the broader reason that open access advocates have to be incrementalists. Open access has occurred thus far and will continue to grow through the combination of top-down and bottom-up strategies that have been working thus far. There are still a number of skeptics who need persuading that granting access to marginal audiences is a valuable goal. It is more feasible to win some of these skeptics over in small group settings and by shifting behavioral and attidunal norms within more local settings - such as an academic department.

Of course, we continue to work hard to support top-down initiatives, such as the FRPAA, which is itself an incrementalist measure that applies to only a subset of funding institutions. But we have to be pragmatic about where the opportunities are. If you are in a university that is not in a position to adopt institution-wide open access policies, look for other opportunities. One department at a time.

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