When is a mandate not a mandate?

On the HighWire Press Facebook page, John Sack tipped me off to the Occasional Pamphlet, where Stuart M. Shieber has a terrific post up about University open-access policies as mandates.
Essentially, Schieber notes that university open-access policies are not mandates, in the sense that “there is no such thing as a mandate on faculty.” According to Schieber, all open-access policies have an implicit waiver option anyway, so:

it makes great sense to take the high road and provide for the waiver possibility explicitly. This has multiple benefits. First, it acknowledges reality. Second, it explicitly preserves the freedom of the author. Third, it enables much broader acceptance of the policy.

Perhaps the most important part of the post is this:

I am not claiming that there can be no true open-access mandates on faculty. Rather, such mandates must come from outside academia. Funders and governments can mandate open access because they can, in the end, refuse to fund noncompliers. They have a stick. All a university, school, or dean has, in the end, is a carrot.

In As library budgets collapse, authors need to take responsibility for access, Shieber implies that one of the carrots we have is, ironically, shrinking library budgets. As libraries are forced to cancel subscriptions to high-priced journals, the best way to ensure that the maximum number of other scholars have access to your scholarship is to publish it in open-access journals and deposit it in open-access institutional repositories.

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2 Responses to “When is a mandate not a mandate?”

  1. 1 Chris July 27, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Thanks for the link Stevan!


  2. 2 Stevan Harnad July 27, 2009 at 11:14 am

    See: What’s in a Word? To “Legislate” and/or to “Legitimize”: the Double-Meaning of (Open Access) “Mandate”


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