UCSF Commits to Make All Journals Freely Accessible

San Francisco, CA – Today faculty, administration, and library leaders from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) took a major step towards the goal of making all scholarly literature freely available to everyone by endorsing an international open access (OA) initiative called OA2020. By signing onto an Expression of Interest (EoI), UCSF will help lead the way for other US institutions. UC Berkeley and UC Davis also announced their support for OA2020 today.

Open access enables scholarly literature to be freely and immediately available to everyone upon publication, and allows authors to retain rights to their work. OA publishing stands in stark contrast to the traditional and predominant subscription model that requires readers to pay for access to content. The costs for journal subscriptions continue to rise astronomically and unsustainably for many institutions, and this subscription “paywall” serves as an unnecessary barrier to discovery and advancement. More than 80% of journals are still subscription-based.

UCSF has long been a trailblazer in the OA movement by actively promoting new OA publishing models, providing funds for authors to publish in OA journals, and passing the first OA Policy in the UC System in 2012, which allows UCSF faculty authors to retain rights to their work and freely share their articles. A UC System-wide OA Policy in 2013, and a UC Presidential OA Policy in 2015 extended coverage to all of the more than 480,000 faculty, staff, and students across the ten UC campuses. In effect, this permits an average of 50,000 UC-authored articles to become freely available every year.

In this context, Rich Schneider, Chair of the Academic Senate’s Committee on Library & Scholarly Communication (COLASC) and Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, recognized the enormous potential of the OA2020 Initiative, “to break down once and for all the historical and financial barriers to journal access on an epic scale, and to give the public a rightful dividend on its investment.” For more than a decade, Schneider has been a leader for the OA movement across the UC System and he was instrumental, along with the UCSF Library and California Digital Library, in getting the UCSF, UC, and Presidential OA Policies passed and implemented.

“Paying for journal subscriptions might have made sense back when publishers had to print, bind, and distribute copies of our work, but now these costs are largely displaced by the digital revolution, so the current system is a legacy that needs to be transformed. OA 2020 will empower UCSF faculty to make their publications immediately and freely available by converting all traditional subscription journals into OA. Doing so is in the best interests of everyone, even publishers,” says Schneider.

By signing the OA2020 EoI, UCSF commits to reallocate those library resources currently spent on journal subscriptions in support of OA business models. The UCSF Administration has made a steadfast pledge to sustain library resources to help ensure the success of such OA models. Signing the EoI does not signal an end to journal access for UCSF readers and does not tie UCSF to any specific OA business model. OA2020 will provide flexibility for institutions to define for themselves how to repurpose their journal subscription funds in support of OA publishing. 

Schneider gained widespread and robust faculty support for signing the OA2020 EoI as he shepherded the initiative through the Academic Senate. “Ten Senate committees and councils offered strong letters in support of UCSF signing the EoI, including a unanimous approval from the Executive Council.  The Academic Senate believes that UCSF’s leadership will add momentum to OA 2020 and ultimately provide immeasurable benefits to academia and society as a whole,” said Ruth Greenblatt MD, Professor and Chair of the UCSF Academic Senate.

With these endorsements, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Dan Lowenstein, MD, and Library Interim Business Lead Jim Munson enthusiastically added their signatures to the EoI. “UCSF will do everything we can to allow people everywhere to have access to the discoveries and innovation that make UCSF a world leader,” explained Lowenstein.

UCSF, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis worked together to sign the OA2020 EoI before a major OA conference (Berlin 13) in Germany on March 21-22, 2017. These UC campuses, along with the first U.S. signatory campus, California State University, Northridge, put together the site OA2020.us to offer their perspectives about why they signed and to provide resources for other institutions who want to join as well.  Schneider, who will be representing UCSF at the B13 conference, states that, “the time has come for institutions to decide whether they are going to perpetuate the problem or be the solution that revolutionizes the system for the public good. With enough key stakeholders around the table, OA2020 can be the beginning of real change.”  

View UCSF signatory documents > 

About UCSF and the UCSF Library

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. UCSF is the only campus in the 10-campus system dedicated exclusively to the health sciences. UCSF is a collection of dedicated scientists, clinicians, students and staff who share a common drive to make the world a better place by advancing health and the human condition. Care and compassion are as critical as science and discovery in fulfilling our mission to drive change, and make a difference for individual patients and whole populations.

The UCSF Library is one of the preeminent health sciences libraries in the world, containing an expansive digital and physical collection of the world’s health sciences knowledge base. Offering a diverse range of services and resources to the UCSF community and public visitors, the Library is a vital resource for learning, engagement and creativity within UCSF and beyond.

For more information contact librarynews@ucsf.edu

Stay informed about the topics that matter most to you.