Open Access Policy will give researchers worldwide immediate access to OICR data

Posted: July 1, 2008 In: Portal Newsletter

Francis Ouellette

Francis Ouellette is OICR's Associate Director, Informatics and Biocomputing.
(CPimages/S.Lake)

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) is taking the lead in 2008 and making the research it funds available to the public through an open access policy that takes effect July 1. OICR’s policy, “Access to Research Outputs,” provides the guidelines for OICR’s scientists when they publish their work and describes the institutional repository where all publications from OICR scientists will be deposited for public accessibility.

The policy, which builds on the policy in place at the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), requires OICR researchers to provide unrestricted access to their publications within six months of publishing, either through self-archiving of the journal article in the OICR Institutional Repository or through publication in open access journals. The large majority of publishers already offer such accessibility within their copyright agreements.

“The main reason behind implementing an open access policy at OICR is that it allows the world to read OICR’s published papers and to benefit from the research funded by the Ontario government,” says Francis Ouellette, OICR’s Associate Director of Informatics and Biocomputing and a key member of the panel tasked with developing this policy for OICR. “It is important for people to know that what we do here at OICR is important and relevant, and they can do that by reading the papers that our researchers publish.”

Open access publishing has gained increasing attention and support over the past decade with the growth of the Internet and digital publishing. In addition, an increasing number of research institutions like OICR, as well as funding agencies like CIHR, have adopted open access policies to ensure publicly funded research is made freely available to the public.

Ouellette says researchers are starting to recognize that open access publishing and repositories greatly expand readership not only within the international research community itself, but also among the public.

“The average person knows how to use a basic search engine and knows how to find information and articles that are relevant to their disease,” Ouellette says. “If they have open access to research publications, even if they can’t fully understand the content, they can take that paper to their physician and ask about the disease. Open access empowers patients and their families – and since the research at OICR is publicly funded, they should have access to it.”

Ouellette feels that in addition to federal funding agencies, it is up to organizations like OICR who are developing new policies to lead the way and prove that open access can work. 

“OICR has developed a very important policy for the open accessibility of its research output,” Ouellette says. “I think it will become a model policy for the Canadian research community.”