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UMD Equitable Access Policy

The "Equitable Access to Scholarly Articles Authored by University Faculty" policy was approved by the University of Maryland Senate on April 6, 2022 and by President Pines on April 8, 2022. UMD Libraries are leading implementation of the new policy. For further information on the Policy and to access resources for amending author agreements and obtaining waivers, visit the Equitable Access Policy website. 

What is the "Equitable Access" Policy and why does it matter?

The overarching goals of the Equitable Access Policy are to: 1.) remove price and permission barriers to a large subset of UMD’s knowledge for those who cannot afford the often-exorbitant subscription fees of for-profit publishers; 2.) help UMD faculty members comply with open access mandates from research funders; and 3.) enhance faculty authors’ ability to retain their rights.

We believe equitable access to knowledge is a moral imperative and is in alignment with our land-grant mission as a public university. This policy relies on the unified action of the campus, as a body, to enable individual faculty to distribute their scholarly writings freely. Many other grant-funding organizations, including private foundations and government agencies, have a vested interest in making research outputs openly available and are independently supporting these types of efforts as well.

This policy is intended to promote social and economic justice, increase discoverability and use of UMD’s research, and help make scholarly communication more sustainable, because it means UMD now has other means with which to share scholarly work with other researchers and the general public. This policy and movement are intended to create more pressure on what has become primarily a monopolistic, for-profit scholarly publishing market.

The “Equitable Access” policy has two basic provisions. First, faculty members commit to deposit a certain version of their future scholarly articles into DRUM, the University of Maryland’s institutional repository. Second, faculty members grant certain nonexclusive rights over their future scholarly articles to the University of Maryland, authorizing it to make their deposited articles open access. This grant of nonexclusive rights is not equivalent to a grant of ownership. It includes waiver and embargo options to enhance author freedom and control over their work. We call this grant of nonexclusive rights the UMD Equitable Access License.

The policy does not require authors to submit new scholarly articles to any particular type of journals, such as open-access journals. Instead, the policy deliberately allows authors to submit new work to the journals of their choice.

Under the policy, UMD’s Equitable Access License: 

  • Gives authors the ability to make their work openly accessible without the difficulty or uncertainty of negotiating with publishers;
  • Enables the university to help authors make their works open access;
  • Preserves authors’ freedom to publish in the journals of their choice;
  • Preserves authors’ freedom to decide for or against open access for each publication; 
  • Enhances authors’ rights to reuse their work for research and teaching; 
  • Gives authors more rights over their own work than standard, or even progressive, publishing contracts;
  • Increases readership and citation of research;
  • Makes it easier for instructors to assign your work to their students; 
  • Keeps publicly funded research in public hands; and
  • Helps to control costs for libraries and readers.

The chief benefit of the Equitable Access License is the way it fosters open access itself. Research has repeatedly shown that articles that are free online are cited more often than articles that are not free online, and this trend is increasing over time. This phenomenon is often called the open-access citation or impact advantage.

Here are some examples:

  • Availability in DRUM. The UMD Libraries manages an open-access repository called DRUM ( to distribute the scholarly articles deposited by UMD researchers.
  • Reuse by the author. When UMD receives the grant of nonexclusive rights from faculty, it grants the same rights back to the faculty. The result is that faculty receive more rights from the policy, to use and reuse their own work, than they would likely receive under their publishing contracts.
  • Non-commercial distribution. Through the transferability provision, UMD may further allow others to distribute content in DRUM, provided that the articles are not sold for profit. For instance, faculty at other institutions could be given permission to make copies for free distribution directly to their students.
  • Instructional purposes. The UMD equitable-access license grants UMD the right to license articles for free use in a course pack, so long as the course pack is not sold for profit. Alternatively, those seeking to include articles in a course pack could continue to get permissions from the publisher, typically by paying royalties to the publisher. To take another example, UMD could also authorize others to make articles available online (for example, on a course website or another repository), provided that these were not sold for a profit.
  • Harvesting, indexing, and other services. Consistent with the goals of open access and ensuring wide visibility and availability of scholarly articles, the license allows UMD to enable both commercial and nonprofit entities to use the articles to provide search or other services, so long as the articles are not being sold for a profit. For instance, the license allows UMD to enable the articles to be harvested and indexed by search services, such as Google Scholar, and to be used to provide other value-added services that don't involve selling the articles themselves for a profit.