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The CHA President comments on the
Tri-Council policy on Open Access

Ottawa, December 11, 2013

Consultation on the Draft Tri-Agency Open Access Policy

To Whom it may concern,

Thank you for asking us for our feedback on the the Draft Tri-Agency Open Access Policy.  The CHA is closely following the speedy developments on open access.

We have identified five major areas of concerns:

- That any transition to a more open model does not come at the expense of smaller publications such as that of our association, the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association;

- Particularly for professional and academic associations like ours, the financial health and strength of the organization depend largely on the health of these publications. Associations like ours would be very vulnerable;

- That any transition will not compromise the possibility for researchers who are not well-off to continue to publish since many of the new models seem to ask the authors to finance some of the costs of production;

- The reasoning of granting agencies which equates openness, free and public money is often too rushed, simplistic and erroneous. It is part of a speech that the Federation and its members are well placed to criticize, and put in the context of debates and reflections on the nature of public life;

- Nothing has been said about how SSHRC intends to support journals that decide to adopt an open access policy.

Digital Research

The draft of the Federation responds to the concerns of historians and researchers interested in the past.

SSHRC should consult, aside from national and provincial institutions, historians and archivists with regards to archives and libraries, to have understanding of the texts on history and heritage. This would allow taking the pulse of debates and best practices without limiting SSHRC to more formal positions, and would be more consistent with the goal of the Federation to adopt an approach from the bottom up.

In addition, SSHRC could also inquire, through them or otherwise, about the practices of other countries known for their advances in the field of preservation and management of digital documents.

The need for researchers to be accountable to SSHRC regarding data management is commendable. But acceptability criteria need to be crafted carefully. Too often, and increasingly, assessment forms modeled on the business world emphasize what is immediately quantifiable, in processes that require assessments that are too frequent and superficial. The criteria should be approved, again, from the bottom up.

Sincerely,

Dominique Marshall

President
Canadian Historical Association

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