Free Licenses and Creative Commons: A Powerful Tool for Open Access Publishing in Grey Literature

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Introduction/Goal: In today’s increasingly technologically savvy information society, “using remote access and free content to open doors for science students”, a statement made by NANSLO lab director Daniel Branan (, is yet another example of ongoing efforts to make information more openly and freely available and accessible. Although Branan focused his remarks on the scientific community, this applies to more than one specific subject field. Rather, scientists, teachers, artists, sociologists, programmers, as well as professionals from the arts industry and economics are increasingly becoming involved in sharing and reusing their work. Open content provides an opportunity to shorten the time for research to become available, not repeat research already conducted, have data to compare, collect background information for a project, and numerous other possibilities. Despite the well-intentioned mandate of a Creative Commons license, the free distribution of an author’s work is still “governed by applicable copyright law.” (Wikipedia, n.d.) Jack Andraka, an advocate for the Open Access Movement, laments the disappointment that can occur due to publication and distribution restrictions: “I’ve seen so many great ideas get killed in the lab when my peers are stopped by closed access [to research articles]” ( Open licensing is a strong instrument ensuring open access to research data. Research Method/Procedure: This project will uncover open licenses and describe how they are used, focusing on Creative Commons free licenses, the most widely known worldwide. The Open Access movement has begun gaining greater acceptance, with numerous institutions either strongly encouraging and/or requiring their faculty, students, and staff to deposit their scholarly work in the institutional repository. As a case in point, the University of Liege in Belgium established a mandate in 2008 whereby all publications must be deposited, including the full text of articles “as soon as the article is accepted by the editor” ( . Despite the well-intentioned means of encouraging authors to deposit their works in the public domain via open-content licenses, controversy still remains that this act can alter the original author’s ownership, particularly since “all transfers or licenses of copyright interests by a work’s author are revocable” (Armstrong, 2010, p. 360). The University of Liege has countered this argument with their ORBi (Open Repository and Bibliography) open access repository; a clause has been added stating that access to an author’s full text articles “will only be granted with the author’s consent and according to the rules applicable to author’s rights and copyrights” ( This increased visibility in publications and access to research has resulted in ORBi currently holding a ranking of 34 out of 1746 repositories worldwide, recording more than 2 million downloads since its inception ( Via a survey, international, national, subject, and institutional repositories will be selected, in order to determine if Creative Commons licenses are being used at these facilities and if so, how and in what way (i.e. which type of documents are being deposited?, what is the degree of usage? etc). The survey will focus on the different Creative Commons licenses available, and how these affect open access and copyright restrictions. Results: We believe that results obtained from the survey will not only provide us with a comparative environmental scan of the existence of Creative Commons licenses at various institutions, but will also reveal insufficiencies and recommend approaches on how to increase the use of these licenses in grey literature repositories. It is anticipated that this venture will generate renewed interest and awareness in creating a more seamless link between open access publishing and grey literature. It is in this research context that the technology and innovation triangles combine, “extending the scope beyond R & D [research and development]” (Pant and Hambly- Odame, 2010), to the grey literature community as a whole. While certain document types may never be deposited into an institutional repository, and some authors may voice concerns about feeling obligated to adhere to such a mandate, the benefits clearly outweigh any potential harms. Open Access publishing in the grey literature domain via the use of Creative Commons licenses creates the multiplier effect, “permitting the creation of new works which may never have come into existence” (Armstrong, 2010, p. 368).
Grey Literature, Open Access
Pejsova, P., and Vaska, M. (2014). Free licenses and Creative Commons: A powerful tool for Open Access publishing in grey literature. Presenetd at GL 16 Washington D.C.