Open Access Supports for Researchers in Canadian Universities

Devon Greyson, Donald Taylor


In an attempt to improve impact of research outputs, and to open up strategic research investments to stakeholders and the world at large, major research funding organizations have begun to require that peer-reviewed research resulting from their grants be made openly accessible. The advent of such mandates on a sizable scale alters the lifecycle of scholarly research, involving new players such as open access repositories within and outside of universities, and creating new steps in the cycle such as self-archiving of published articles and data.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the largest Canadian institution to adopt an open access mandate for grantees' work. Like most such policies, the CIHR policy places the impetus on the individual researchers to ensure that their research outputs are openly accessible. Universities play a major role in supporting their researchers throughout the cycle of research production, by way of internal institutions such as research administration offices, university libraries, university presses, and now institutional repositories. However, the roles of such internal supports in enabling and ensuring that affiliated researchers comply with the CIHR access policy are undefined.

What are major research-supporting institutions at Canadian universities with CIHR-funded researchers doing to support the research production cycle in an open access era?  Are librarians and research administrators aware of the new obligations placed on their CIHR-funded health researchers?  Do they feel that it is their job to be involved in some way, even though the CIHR policy acts specifically on research investigators rather than institutions? Are libraries and research administration offices acting in ways that support researchers' compliance with the CIHR policy, and if so, how? Are there coordinated approaches being taken across campuses, or it the approach largely piecemeal at the point in time? Can 'best practices' or interesting innovations in the area of open access researcher support be identified, to serve as models or case studies?

In order to explore these questions, and to describe the state of institutional support for researchers now affected by the CIHR access policy, an interdisciplinary team of librarians and health researchers across Canada has undertaken a survey of libraries and research administrators at universities with medical schools across Canada. Through these surveys we aim to document the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of the institutions, as well as highlight barriers to OA supports and any unique or creative responses to the CIHR policy instrument. This study contributes a baseline assessment of the status of institutional support for OA across major Canadian universities, which can be compared in the future with follow-up assessments of the same, as well as with future measures of researcher compliance with the CIHR policy. 

This presentation will discuss the interdisciplinary approach taken to developing the project, as well as the survey results. We will summarize findings, and highlight innovative and exciting approaches that might serve as national models of support for researchers throughout the research production lifecycle as we transition to an open access era. 



open access; universities; Canada; university libraries; research administration; CIHR; open access mandates