The University has adopted a new policy designed to broaden access to faculty research published in academic journals and conference proceedings. 

Under the policy, faculty members grant the University non-exclusive rights to the copyright of published scholarly articles. Professors would be prevented from signing over exclusive copyright to a publisher unless the provost’s office waives the requirement at the faculty member’s request. The policy does not apply to books, fiction, poetry, music, film, lecture notes, or popular writings.

Computer science professor Andrew Appel ’81, who led a faculty committee that studied the issue, said the policy basically means that professors “should not sign a publication contract that prevents the authors from also putting a copy of their paper on their own Web page or in their university’s public-access repository.” The committee also recommended the creation of a University-wide data repository, with faculty participation to be voluntary.

While some members of the humanities faculty had expressed concerns at the start of deliberations about an open-access policy, including questions about the impact on peer review and about which version of an article would be made public, Appel said he believed that those concerns had been addressed by the study committee.

Princeton’s action, along with similar moves by other universities, should help push publishers with restrictive policies “into the 21st century,” Appel said.

Y.S. Chi ’83, management-committee chairman of the scientific and medical research publisher Elsevier, said that subscription journals will continue to serve a valuable function even when content is available for free. Journals provide tools such as specialized search and visualization functions, interlinking, and accessibility to datasets, he said.