Scholar’s Copyright Project

Making research and data “re-useful”

“An Introduction to the Scholar’s Copyright Project” by John Wilbanks

(For more information on this project, see the project details here.)

At a time when we have the technologies to enable global access to and distributed processing of scientific research and data, legal and technical restrictions are making it difficult to connect the dots. Even when research and data is made public, it’s often locked up by regimes or contracts that prohibit changing file formats or languages, integrating data, semantic enrichment, text mining and more. These restrictions sharply limit the impact of published research, and prevent us from exploiting the potential of the Web for accelerating scientific discovery.

In the Scholar’s Copyright Project, Science Commons develops tools and resources for expanding and enhancing open access (OA) to published research and data. We believe that knowledge-sharing systems and formats based on the paper metaphor block innovation, and that open access is prerequisite for finding new ways to reap the value of the vast amounts of public research now being produced.

For details on the resources we offer, continue reading below.

For publishers

Publishers of scientific data

Ensuring the freedom to use and integrate collections of facts is complicated, especially given the differing laws governing the use of factual data in jurisdictions around the world.

The Science Commons Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data is a method for ensuring that your database can be legally integrated with other databases, regardless of the country of origin. The protocol is not a license or legal tool, but instead a methodology and best practices document for creating such legal tools, and marking data in the public domain for machine-assisted discovery. There are currently two legal tools that comply with the protocol: the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and License (ODC-PDDL) and the Creative Commons CC0 waiver.

If you’d like to enable global, permission-free access to your public domain database, visit our FAQ page, where you can read the FAQ on the Database Protocol. You can also click here to read the official announcement of the Protocol.

Publishers of OA journals and other OA science publications

With major funding agencies and foundations adopting policies mandating OA to research results, OA journals are poised for growth. By the end of 2008, more than 1,000 peer-reviewed scholarly journals worldwide will implement their OA philosophy using Creative Commons licensing — about one third of all the open journals in the world. Key adopters include the Public Library of Science (PLoS), Hindawi and BioMed Central. Each uses the Creative Commons Attribution License, which is a legal implementation of the open access vision articulated in the Budapest Open Access Initiative. The result: more of the literature is made freely available, while authors and publishers retain attribution.

For more information about Creative Commons licenses, you can visit our FAQ or the Creative Commons licenses page. And if you have a journal under CC licensing, send us an email so we can add you to our list.

Publishers of law journals

If you publish a law journal, you may be interested in the Open Access Law (OAL) Program. More than 35 law journals have committed to the program since launch.

The OAL program provides a comprehensive set of resources promoting open access in legal scholarship. It relies on self-assessment and self-reporting, arming the editorial boards of law journals with the means to go OA.

The OAL program consists of a set of principles of Open Access, committing both author and journal to basic tenets of OA, and a free model agreement between authors and journals that implements the principles in contract.

Visit our site to see the journals already on board.

For authors, librarians and academic institutions

Many scholars are choosing to make their work OA by placing archival copies of their peer-reviewed articles on the Web (“self-archiving”) after they are published in a peer-reviewed journal. However, while most journals support some form of self-archiving, the terms they offer are highly variable, and can be confusing. We’ve created a web tool, the Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine, that helps you negotiate the rights you need to use and distribute your work via self-archiving, eliminating confusion and doubt as to when, where and how you can make your work available to the world.

The Addendum Engine provides a simple interface for generating a signature-ready Addendum. It generates a one-page document that amends the copyright transfer agreements issued by publishers. This ensures that you can make your work freely available on the public Internet whether upon publication, pre-publication (in the form of your final manuscript) or after a certain period of time. Our FAQ walks you through step-by-step how to do this.

If you work at an educational institution, we invite you to integrate the Addendum Engine into your site as a community resource. If you need help, you can refer to this wiki or send us an email. We’re happy to assist you.

OA policy guides

In addition to creating the Addendum Engine, we’ve collaborated with the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) to produce white papers on implementing OA: