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Funders, publishers, institutions and others are increasingly moving towards policies that are aimed at sharing research.

The degree of openness — and other stipulations in those policies — vary quite considerably, so some sort of conflict between policies of a researcher's institution, funder and publisher or between those of collaborators is to be expected.

How much should a researcher be worried about these sorts of conflicts? Are there examples where sharing policies that differ have turned out to conflict in a way that actually inhibits the sharing that they were intended to enable?

This question was originally posted on the Open Science SE private beta, due to be closed tomorrow.

  • "Funders, publishers, institutions and others are increasingly moving towards policies that are aimed at sharing research." – is that accurate as a blanket statement? Can you clarify which fields this may be true for? I've been out of Academia for a bit, but in talking with friends who are still there this is not something I've heard emphasized. – eykanal Aug 20 '15 at 21:33
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    Also, asking us for examples is a bit more open than is typical here. We typically look for questions that can be answered, not ones that invite discussion. – eykanal Aug 20 '15 at 21:35
  • @eykanal That blanket statement as such is probably true, but you are right that they have started out from basically zero and have not made great leaps yet. However, many funders, publishers, institutions now have policies in place that require (or at least encourage) open access to final publications, and some have policies that do the same for data, code and occasionally other research outcomes. – Daniel Mietchen Aug 20 '15 at 21:42
  • @eykanal I think this question can be answered by simply giving examples where the sharing policy of one funder, publisher or institution conflicts with that of another. – Daniel Mietchen Aug 20 '15 at 21:43
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    @DanielMietchen I've edited to focus the question and make it more answerable and less likely to be closed by this community; if you disagree with the edits, please feel free to revert. – jakebeal Aug 20 '15 at 21:49
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From a UK standpoint, I've yet to see an example of two open-access funder/institution policies that fundamentally conflict with each other. There is a lot of variance between them in details, and some are more stringent than others, so you could certainly do something that would be enough for Policy A but not enough for Policy B.

However, it's very hard to think of a situation which would be required to comply with one but also prevent you from complying with another.

The main problem in practice is not that they conflict, but that they're all subtly different and they ask for subtly different things. This increases the reporting burden on institutions/researchers who may have to demonstrate compliance with subtly different policies, and provide almost-but-not-quite identical reports to different funders. It also increases confusion among researchers ("which policy applies here?"), and can understandably lead to frustration. More friction, more indirect costs, more headaches for all concerned...

On the plus side, there is definite interest in convergence. I strongly suspect that within a few years, we'll see more funders adopting a standardised OA policy (perhaps one of two or three versions - all-Gold, green permitted, etc), which should help solve this issue.

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