COPE, Renewed

Duke University announced its COPE fund in October of 2010.  COPE, which abbreviates the Compact for Open Access Publishing Equity, is a movement for colleges and universities, mostly through their libraries, to provide financial support, usually reimbursement, for the article processing fees that some open access journals charge.  The basic idea is to see to it that these article processing fees do not pose an obstacle for faculty who want to publish in an OA journal.  In this, as in all aspects of scholarly communications work at Duke and elsewhere, I believe, the goal is to help preserve as much choice and as many viable options for faculty authors as possible.

Duke’s fiscal year ends in June, so it was time recently for the Libraries to decide whether and how to renew our commitment to COPE.  The original COPE fund was create with money from the Libraries and from the Provost’s office, and since October we have had 13 requests for reimbursement of article processing fees.  Of those requests, eight met the criteria we had established and either were funded or will be shortly.  These requests did not exhaust the fund we had for FY ’11, but they have been accelerating over time, and we anticipate robust demand in the coming FY ’12.

So part of the good news to report is just that COPE funding will continue to be available for FY ’12 for Duke authors who decide to publish in fully open access journals.  This is a decision we want our authors to be able to make without concern about fees, and a business model for publishing that we want to support.  But what makes this coming year different, and somewhat unique, I believe, is that the COPE fund in 2012 will be a three-way partnership, with funds coming from the Libraries, the Provost’s Office and the Dean of the School of Medicine.  A quick survey of colleague institutions who have COPE funds did not find any where monies were contributed by the medical school, so we have reason to believe this is not the norm.

About half of Duke’s COPE applications so far have come from medical faculty, so it is very gratifying that the Dean of the School of Medicine has agreed to contribute to the fund.  Open access is growing in most fields, but especially in the biomedical sciences, where access to research and speed of publication are vitally important.  So the increase in the fund and the collaboration amongst the interested parties at Duke makes especially good sense.

One point that has been important as we renewed the COPE fund, and involved the School of Medicine, has been the relationship with grant funding.  Since grant funds are so important to medical research, and many medical research funders allow grant money to be used to pay open access charges, it seemed important not to undermine the support for OA from this quarter and to make COPE funds available where they are most needed.  The principle adopted at Duke and many other COPE institutions is that the funding is only be available to researchers whose work either is not grant funded or whose funder does not allow the use of grant money to pay OA fees.  COPE funds are all about incentives, and preserving the incentive for grantors to support open access was an especially important aspect the policy for the medical school.

We are looking forward to a busy year supporting open access publication at Duke, and very proud of the partnership that has formed for that purpose between the Libraries, the Provost, and the Medical School.

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