Sections of a Typical Policy & Supporting Documentation

Open Access policies typically contain the following components: institutional relevance, rationale, application / actions, scope, and implementation. The components are typically succinctly stated so that the entire policy is relatively brief. An accompanying FAQ provides further elaboration, definitions and frequently describes policy implementation details and other processes.

The CARL Policy Template is available here. The following sections present the rationale for the text included in this Policy Template while also presenting alternate text from Canadian institutional open access policies that you may wish to consider when drafting a policy at your own institution.


Open access policies typically begin with value statements, expressing the value and purpose of the policy to its institutional community. Such statements should align or reflect an institution’s stated values or principles that may be found in key institutional documents such as an academic plan, strategic plan, or research plans.

In the examples provided below, CARL has provided a sample statement and included other exemplars where policy statements directly aligned with institutional documents.

Institution Text Context Comments
CARL Policy Template “We – [University X]’s community of scholars – are committed to the democratization of knowledge through open access and recognize that open scholarship practices foster collaborative, community-engaged, reproducible, and impactful research.” This text was developed to reflect current priorities around research within CARL member institutions.
Athabasca University As a publicly funded institution, Athabasca University (AU) supports open access to research outputs.” As illustrated in this statement, the institutional relevance can be extremely simple and limited to one core aspect.
Acadia University “Acadia University is committed to disseminating research and scholarship as widely as possible.” Another simple, direct  statement.
Simon Fraser University Simon Fraser University’s goal to be Canada’s most engaged research university invites us to find ways of sharing the research output and creative work of the University with the wider community. The University is, therefore, committed to making accessible and preserving the products of research with the broadest possible community, including other scholars, practitioners, policymakers, and the public at large.” Reflects text in SFU’s 2012 Strategic Vision.
Carleton University Carleton University is committed to the principle of disseminating academic knowledge as widely and in as timely a way as possible thereby increasing the impact of this research and expanding the scholarly discourse. In facilitating researchers to disseminate new knowledge, all methods are encouraged including traditional commercial and learned society publications and newer supplementary methods such as network sharing and open access methods. The quality of the research at Carleton is the paramount consideration, normally realized through the peer review process, regardless of the publishing method.” Reflects text in Carleton’s 2013 mission statement.
York University “ Purpose of an Open Access Policy

The enduring goal of a university is to create and disseminate knowledge. York University is committed to disseminating the research performed at the University in ways that make it widely accessible, while protecting the intellectual property rights of its authors. This policy acknowledges:

  • the need to promote open access to scholarship in keeping with global trends, national initiatives and institutional documents
  • changes in technology offer opportunities for new forms of both creation and dissemination of scholarship
  • open access offers opportunities for York to fulfill its mission of creating and preserving knowledge in a way that opens disciplinary boundaries and facilitates sharing knowledge more freely with the world while increasing visibility and access to research conducted at the University
  • the requirement of the University to comply with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications”
York University OA policy also specifically articulates alignment with the University’s Academic Plan and University Research plan in a following section.


A rationale section follows, elaborating on the policy’s purpose. Typically the rationale is presented as a straightforward argument for open practices in research, and describes the future benefits of implementing the policy. In this regard they often incorporate principled statements. See also Key Principles section.

Institution Text Contextual Comments
CARL Policy Template “Open access accelerates discovery across the disciplines and increases the visibility and impact of research. It facilitates connections and collaborations between scholars and strengthens the rigour of published research by ensuring it is open to scrutiny by all, enabling scholars from all sectors, policymakers, and the public to use and build on this knowledge. Freely sharing research with the public also reflects University X’s responsibility and commitment  to provide access to research as a publicly funded institution.” This statement synthesizes arguments that CARL has put forward in its original Position Statement on Open Access (2013) as well as in more recent documents including its Scholarly Communication Roadmap (2017) – these are also presented in the Key Principles section of this toolkit.
Acadia University “Open-access literature is digital and freely accessible at the point of use for the reader. It normally contains less copyright or licensing restrictions so researchers and the wider community can rapidly share and benefit from the results of the research.” This statement of principles is rather less emphatic about the benefits of open access than many others.
Simon Fraser University “Scholarly journals remain the primary means of disseminating research results in most academic disciplines, however, most do not allow public access. Depositing these articles in an open access repository would provide such access, while simultaneously showcasing this work to the world, increasing its impact, creating a collective archive of SFU’s research output, and making more visible the products of our work.” These principles are focused on benefits to the institution and to its researchers.
Concordia University whereas Concordia University wishes to take a leadership role in Canada and exemplify social responsibility by supporting the principles of open access and has recently launched Spectrum, an open access repository freely available to receive the refereed academic research output and creative work voluntarily deposited by Concordia faculty and others, with assistance from librarians and other library staff as required, thereby satisfying the requirements of a number of funding agencies in Canada and elsewhere without affecting the intellectual property rights, responsibilities and academic freedom of faculty members” As the first institution to adopt a policy of this type in Canada, Concordia recognized that doing so could serve as a model for other institutions.
University of Windsor In addition to the public benefit of such dissemination, this policy is intended to serve faculty interests by promoting greater reach and impact for their work.

“Momentum for open access has been growing as numerous funding agencies and institutions worldwide implement open access policies. In Canada, the recent release of the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications requires grant recipients, as of May 2015, to take steps to ensure that peer-reviewed journal publications arising from supported research are made freely accessible within 12 months of publication.”

York University As a publicly funded institution, York University is committed to ensuring the greatest possible scholarly and public access to the scholarship and creative works In addition to securing the public benefit of such access, this policy is intended to serve the interests of researchers by promoting the greater reach and preservation of works and establishing norms and expectations around rights of authors and users in the context of rapidly changing technologies and publishing practices.

The University values and protects the academic freedom of its researchers. It is not the function of this policy to alter the rights or privileges of individuals defined by collective agreements.

York’s policy affirms the benefits of public access to York’s research and articulates the value of a policy that will centre support for author rights and user rights within the context of rapidly changing technologies and publishing practices and future dissemination models.


Following the rationale section, an OA policy succinctly identifies the body that the policy applies to, frames it as a shared agreement and describes the action that will be taken with policy approval. An associated FAQ typically further elaborates on specific points referenced.

Examples of FAQs can be found below. The Scope section may also provide further elaboration of the identified body that the policy applies to.

Institution Text Context Comments
CARL Policy Template “As scholarly authors at [University X], we commit to openly share the products of our research and scholarship.

“To do so, we agree to publish in open access publications and/or deposit our scholarly work in [University X]’s open access institutional repository or in a trusted disciplinary archive as early as possible, ideally sometime between the date of acceptance and the date of publication. If applicable, access the file in question can be suppressed for a period of time in order to meet publisher or granting body requirements.”

“To facilitate the dissemination and archiving of our work, we hereby grant to [University X] the non-exclusive permission to archive, preserve, reproduce, and freely disseminate an electronic copy of all scholarly journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers authored by us, provided that these works are properly attributed to the authors, and that it is done for non-commercial purposes only. (For further clarification, Creative Commons defined non-commercial uses ‘as not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.’)”

These suggested policy points are meant to ultimately strengthen the spirit of the open access movement.

The actual crafting of a policy will however need to align with a particular institutional context, so may differ from this model.

Athabasca University “Researchers are encouraged to make the results of their research permanently accessible online, through peer-reviewed open access journals, monographs or textbooks, or through institutional digital repositories or archival systems.“

“Researchers are obliged to comply with the open access publication policy of their research sponsor(s).”

“Researchers shall ensure that the rights of human participants regarding protection of their privacy and the confidentiality of information obtained for research purposes is respected in the publication of research outputs.”

In this example, the institution has opted to use a firm stance regarding compliance with funder policies, but a much lighter stance for other scholarly works.
University of British Columbia “Faculty members are encouraged to deposit an electronic copy of their refereed and non-refereed research output and creative work in cIRcle in accordance with applicable copyright arrangements which may be in place for that work.

“Where a faculty member has deposited a work with cIRcle, cIRcle shall be granted a non-exclusive licence to preserve and make publicly available the research contained therein.

“The authors of works deposited with cIRcle will maintain ownership of their rights in the works.”

York University “Scholarly articles should be submitted to the repository as early as possible, ideally between the date of acceptance and the date of publication. If applicable, an embargo date can be set to meet publisher requirements.

Exceptions to the Senate Policy on Open Access may be made for a particular work, or for a specified period of time, upon express direction in writing by an author or authors, and confirmed by the Dean of Libraries. However, the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications shall continue to hold as policy compliance is contractual upon receipt of funding.”

This is an example where the institution expects scholarly articles will be deposited in an open access repository unless an author expressly writes to opt out of the policy.  Mandatory compliance for grant funded research is stipulated.


Most policies provide a scope section that provides further elaboration on who is affected by the policy (e.g. an institution’s faculty, researchers) and the kind(s) of content that the policy applies to. 

Some policies detail all categories of individuals impacted (full time faculty, graduate students), while others provide broader terms such as “scholars or researchers.”  Choices are frequently dependent on institutional culture, institutional policy frameworks or strategic decisions based on anticipated acceptance.

Similarly, the kind(s) of content that the policy applies to are typically defined in the course of policy deliberations with stakeholders. Many policies provide general statements such as “scholarship,” “research outputs”, or “scholarly outputs,” while others are more specific such as such as “peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters.” Increasingly, policies are expanding beyond scholarly content and open data to encompassing all forms of “open research” to encompass “open practices in research.”

CARL strongly recommends a scope statement that is inclusive of all disciplinary scholarly practices and their research outputs. We are also intentional in advancing the  spirit of openness as defined by the Berlin declaration and the trajectory and promise of open access in its vision. To this end, CARL recommends a starting point that provides the broadest definition possible of scholarly outputs to ensure the policy encompasses the future of open scholarship and anticipates growing acceptance of more open practices in research in support of the greater global vision and evolution  of openness. This is in line with the Berlin Declaration, which subscribes to the view that “Open access contributions include original scientific research results, raw data and metadata, source materials, digital representations of pictorial and graphical materials and scholarly multimedia material.”

Institution Text Context Comments
CARL Policy Template In the spirit of enabling the broadest access to research, accelerating discovery, enabling transparency and reproducibility of research, this policy applies to journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers produced by faculty members, graduate students and any other scholars affiliated with [University X]. In addition to these types of scholarly output, authors are urged to consider depositing into the institutional repository all their scholarly works, regardless of format, in order to enhance visibility and impact of these research outputs. In order to align with our values of maximum openness and recognition of the increasing variety in research outputs at our institutions, CARL proposes that the scope be broad and inclusive, thereby encouraging enhanced visibility of all of an institution’s scholarly outputs.
University of Prince Edward Island All UPEI scholars, including, but not limited to, staff, faculty, graduate and undergraduate students.” This policy deliberately includes all possible scholars within the institution.
York University “This policy applies to scholarship and publications that are:

i. Subject to Tri-Agency funding and Legislation that requires scholarship to be made available open access

ii. Non Tri-Agency scholarship and publications except those where the faculty member or other researcher opts not to make their research available open access”

Note: Scholarship is defined in the definition section of the policy:

“In the context of this policy, scholarship is defined as research outputs typically presented in peer-reviewed scholarly articles, book chapters, and conference papers. Many products of faculty effort may not fall into this category: e.g. monographs and edited collections, newspaper and magazine articles, blogs and social media commentary, fiction and poetry, performances, artworks, ephemeral writings, lecture notes, lecture videos, software, or other such works.”

This policy has a dual purpose:  It reinforces mandatory OA compliance for Tri-agency funded scholarship and it provides an opt out institutional OA policy for scholarship that is not governed by grant funding OA requirements.
Simon Fraser University “We commit to deposit all scholarly articles authored or co-authored while we are university authors at SFU, although this policy does not cover any articles published before the adoption of this policy, any articles for which the author entered into an incompatible licensing or assignment agreement before the adoption of this policy, or any articles published after we leave the university. This policy uses the recommended language from the Harvard Model Policy.
University of Windsor “All faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to deposit digital copies of publications on which they are authors or co-authors in the Scholarship at UWindsor institutional repository. However, researchers whose work is subject to the terms of the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications will be required to deposit or make available an electronic copy of his or her publication in Scholarship at UWindsor.”
University of Reading “We encourage our researchers and students to be as open as possible, as early as possible (recognising that circumstances can constrain choices). To this end we have identified 12 things that researchers can do to make their research more open. These are for the most part options to be explored by individual researchers; only Open Access publication of research findings and open sharing of data are requirements of University policy. The position statement accompanies Reading’s open access policy by encouraging research in practice with themes that include:

  • making the outputs of research, including publications, data, software and other research materials freely accessible;
  • using online tools and services to increase the transparency of research processes and methodologies;
  • making scientific research more reproducible by increasing the amount and quality of information placed on the public record;
  • using alternative models of publication and peer review to make the dissemination and certification of research faster and more transparent;
  • using open collaborative methods to increase efficiency and widen participation in research.
University of Cambridge “The University relies on its researchers to uphold principles of scholarly rigour so that open materials are of the highest research quality and, where appropriate, will aid reproducibility. This may include:

  • where possible, ensuring all publications are Open Access;
  • where appropriate and possible,”making openly available the underlying data relating to these publications;
  • sharing protocols openly;
  • collaborative approaches including blogging, online editions, releasing teaching materials, pre-print deposit.”
This position statement expands the scope beyond OA publication to include open data, open education, open sharing of protocols and open collaborative approaches that improve transparency and the reproducibility  of research.


Factoring in the process and timing by which the policy will be implemented or enabled is an important consideration. The community will want to understand any impact on intellectual property, collective agreements and where and how they comply with the policy.

The degree of detail that is provided and the placement of implementation descriptions is often a strategic choice. Frequently such detail is described in an accompanying FAQ or an accompanying website.

Most policies indicate a future date a policy comes into force at the same time as encouraging retrospective deposit. Future timing is sometimes considered to provide lead time for all stakeholders.

It is highly recommended that some pre-planning be considered ahead of successful ratification so that momentum continues and credibility remains intact post ratification. See Beginning the Journey.

Posted below are sample implementation statements.

[Note: It may be strategic to deliberately call out infrastructure needed to facilitate successful implementation if it is anticipated that such discussion will be an opportunity to garner needed financial or resourcing support. In other contexts such discussion could unnecessarily derail deliberations or could be detrimental to successful ratification of the policy. Timing of such discussions will have to be carefully considered.]

Institution Text Context
CARL Policy Template While we strongly believe in the open dissemination of research, we also recognize that we, the University’s authors, maintain full control of our intellectual property. The {Specific University Bodies (i.e. Provost’s designate) will waive application of the policy for a particular article or delay access for a specified period of time upon express direction by a [University affiliated] member.

This policy is intended to encourage open access to scholarly work and strengthen author rights. This policy is to be read and interpreted in a manner consistent with relevant collective agreements and University policies related to academic freedom and intellectual property.

This policy comes into force on [date] and applies to all applicable works published after this date.

[Specific university body(ies)] will be responsible for interpreting this policy, resolving disputes concerning its interpretation and application, and recommending changes to the policy to the appropriate university body as necessary.

York University “In accordance with its values and this policy, York University commits to make scholarship produced under its auspices freely available through open access. The commitment is realized by the collaboration of the University and its research community through a conscious choice to participate in the process of making its scholarship available without access restrictions.

For greater specificity:

i. York University continues to provide a trusted open access repository optimized for online discoverability, for preservation and dissemination of research produced by York faculty members and affiliated researchers, and provide the appropriate supports, including publishing and author rights consultation services, to enable its full utilization;

ii. Faculty members and other researchers affiliated with York University publish in an open access publication or deposit their scholarship in a trusted open access repository such as YorkSpace, Osgoode Digital Commons or an equivalent open access repository of their choice through a non-exclusive license;

Under the direction of the Dean of Libraries, York University Libraries are charged with the responsibility of oversight of the YorkSpace open access digital repository. Oversight includes the role of preservation and dissemination of scholarship submitted to the repository to assist York’s scholars in meeting the open access policy and, if applicable, compliance with Tri-Agency open access requirements. The Libraries shall consult with the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation as appropriate in fulfilling this role.”

This statement within the policy aligns OA with York University’s overarching value in inclusive access in its provision of accessible education and research. It also aligns with York’s adherence to intellectual freedom in its reference to “conscious choice.”

It is important to note that York’s policy has been organized and structured in accordance to official York Senate policy documents.  Within policy guidelines, a specific person (i.e. Dean of Libraries not delegate of the Provost, for example) is required to be identified.

Carleton University Carleton University strongly encourages faculty, staff and graduate students to deposit into CURVE electronic copies of their research papers, peer-reviewed articles, conference proceedings. Efforts continue to integrate other adjudicated research output, data sets, creative works and academic work in keeping with the standards of the author’s discipline.

Carleton faculty, staff and graduate students are also encouraged to know their rights as authors and to retain copyright of their works through use of appropriate author addenda when negotiating publication of their works. Further, Carleton encourages faculty to understand Open Access policies and procedures of their publisher. These policies set out terms and conditions under which open access can be provided, such as the version of a work, which can be made available, time delays after publication and required credit statements or links to the original publication.”

This policy not only encourages researchers to deposit publications in the institutional repository but  it also urges them to retain their rights during the negotiation process linked to publication.

6. FAQ

Frequently asked questions (or sometimes a comprehensive web resource about OA) typically accompany the policy document to further elaborate on policy statements, provide detail on context and to provide an active list of answers to questions that are frequently raised. FAQ’s also serve to provide  consistent messaging that leads can point to. Strategically it may be important to pull out critical FAQ’s on an accompanying website to give some statements needed prominence and visibility.

In the case of Athabasca University, there is a separate official “Procedures” document that accompanies the policy and  provides definitions, procedure, and additional details.

Examples of FAQs:

Examples of institutional web resources about OA:



Icon for CC-BY Creative Commons licenceThis work, the CARL Institutional Open Access Policy Toolkit, was developed by members of the CARL Advancing Research Committee and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.