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ARC goes open access

Papers published as a result of funding from the Australian Research Council must be made available in an open access institutional repository within 12 months of publication, according to rules set out last week.

The policy covers all research funded through agreements made after 1 January and follows an ARC consultation with university vice-chancellors in September.

In moving to the policy, the ARC follows the National Health and Medical Research Council into tighter requirements on making the results of publicly funded research openly available.

Like the NHMRC, the ARC has elected to focus on ‘green’ open access with its emphasis on repositories rather than ‘gold’ open access, through which authors or funders pay a publisher to make the research immediately available.

The ARC has not included any requirements on gold open access in its new rules. However, it says that ARC-funded researchers who choose to go down this route will be exempt for the rules on green OA.

Nevertheless, the ARC has still not announced any sanctions for failure to comply with its policy.

While the green route is often popular in science subjects, the length of an embargo under the green model can prove controversial in the humanities. In the UK, a group of 20 high-profile history journals has refused to comply with the requirements of public funders on the grounds that a 12-month embargo period is damaging for them as businesses. The journals say they will only allow published work to be placed in open-access repositories after 36 months.

Aiden Byrne, chief executive of the ARC, indicated earlier this year that the council was considering a shift in its position on OA funding. His predecessor, Margaret Sheil, had been opposed to such a move.