The World Bank Open Access policy

Carlos Rossel

The World Bank Open Access policy


Carlos Rossel – publisher of the World Bank Group and manager of the Publishing and Knowledge Division

(interviewer: Maciej Chojnowski)

Within the last few years the World Bank implemented at least three policies dealing with openness – open data Initiative, Open Access to information policy and OA policy. What is the reason behind it and what is the relation between these policies?

The Open Access policy is part of a series of initiatives to make the Bank more open, transparent and accountable. Other initiatives, jointly referred to as World Bank Open Development agenda, include Policy on Access to Information, Open Data and Open Financial Data. Open Access to research and knowledge was a natural extension of our other efforts to make the Bank more open.

As regards the World Bank, openness does not mean only OA but a broader scope of open data, transparency etc. What is your conception of openness?

Openness is about making information and data freely available and searchable, encouraging feedback, information-sharing, and accountability. It is about increased transparency and fostering innovation. For example, the Bank has adopted Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licenses for Bank published research as part of the OA policy. Making our knowledge widely and readily available will empower others to come up with solutions to the world’s toughest problems.

To what type of content providers does your OA policy apply? Are they only the World Bank staff or the external researchers, too?

The Open Access Policy establishes the Bank’s expectations relating to the public accessibility of knowledge resulting from work carried out by Bank staff members as part of their official duties.

For work published by the World Bank, the Policy requires that electronic copies of complete, final manuscripts that have been approved for release to the public on or after July 1, 2012, as well as its associated metadata, be deposited in the Open Knowledge Repository (OKR), the Bank’s open access repository. The policy requires that these works be made available under the most liberal form of open access, through the use of CC BY copyright license, that places no restrictions on its use except for proper attribution.

For work by Bank staff published by an external publisher, the OA policy requires that the final word-processed version (the Accepted Author’s Manuscript – AAM) be submitted to the OKR upon acceptance of the manuscript for publication. The AAM will be available immediately internally to Bank staff, and externally after an embargo period of 18 months or less.

What type of materials does your open mandate concern?

For work carried out by Bank staff, the policy applies to manuscripts and all accompanying data sets (a) that result from research, analysis, economic and sector work, or development practice; (b) that have undergone peer review or have been otherwise vetted and approved for release to the public; and (c) for which internal approval for release is given on or after July 1, 2012.

Types of content covered by the OA policy include monographs (i.e., books, reports, etc.), working papers, journal articles, as well as associated datasets.

What OA model do you support? Is it green or gold? Libre or gratis? Do you accept embargo periods or/and exemptions from open mandate?

We support green and libre. For externally published research, if the external publisher requires an embargo period, the Bank will respect the requirement, but every effort will be made to limit the duration of the embargo. The version of the manuscript made available will be the final manuscript as accepted for publication, not the final published version.

What type of licenses do you support/prefer?

Pre-print versions of externally published journal articles, which are typically published in the Banks Policy Research Working Paper Series (PRWPs), are available in the OKR under a CC-BY license. These are working paper versions of articles prior to being accepted for publication into a journal. Manuscripts of externally published journal articles are available under CC-BY-NC-ND license unless the publisher accepts the use of a more liberal license.

What are the major subjects / areas of the World Bank open assets?

The World Bank publishes a large selection of research and knowledge products. Publications include authoritative reports that feature research from some of the world's top development economists and practitioners, handbooks to train and aid practitioners, scholarly books that contribute to the development debate in universities and think tanks, and outreach publications for general audiences. Topics cover the full spectrum of economic and social development, including development policy, finance, health, education, environment, trade, poverty, climate change, and globalization. Publications are primarily aimed at policy makers, development practitioners, academics and university students, and the business community.

What software do you use? Why did you choose it? Is it open source?

The Open Knowledge Repository (OKR) is built on DSpace, the open source software used by many open repositories around the world. It was selected because of its flexibility, the active DSpace community that ensure the software is frequently updated and the ease to comply with open access standards for metadata harvesting.

Are the World Bank solutions compatible with the global systems in the OA area? In particular, are they compatible with the European OA infrastructure, OpenAIRE? Are they interoperable?

The OKR is interoperable with other repositories and supports optimal discoverability and re-usability of the content by complying with Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) standards and the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). We are currently working with OpenAIRE to index content in the OKR within their infrastructure.

The OKR makes it possible for any OAI-PMH-compliant repository to harvest specific publications or thematic sets of content across multiple collections within the OKR. This is done through “virtual sets” based on pre-defined search queries and/or filters. The virtual sets not only save repository managers time in harvesting the OKR content, but also save time spent on curation by ensuring that the items harvested meet their desired criteria.

How much has your business model in the field of publishing changed since you implemented open mandate?

Since we went open access, and launched the OKR, our revenues from commercial operations have decreased considerably. Our business model is now based on greater institutional funding in order to make up for some of the lost revenue. We also market the World Bank eLibrary, a subscription-based premium-website designed to meet the unique needs of researchers and librarians. It is focused on adding value to World Bank content through its functionality, ease of use, and discovery tools. Content in the eLibrary is also available in the OKR for free but we find that many institutions are willing to pay a modest annual premium for the many time-saving benefits offered by the World Bank eLibrary.

Do you measure the impact of your open policy? The number of downloads? Reuse? Citations? Do you find altmetrics useful?

Yes we do. Since the OKR was launched close to 5 million publications have been downloaded. We currently average around 230,000 downloads per month and close to 50% of visits to the OKR come from users in developing countries. The OKR provides real time data on downloads by title, country and author.

We also recently added ”alternative metrics” for each publication in the OKR by seamlessly integrating with Altmetric. This allows us to publicly report about online activity for publications in the OKR mentioned in social media sites, blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other external channels. Through Altmetric we are able to publicly share the OKR users’ demographic and links to each source. See an example here. Citations from Google Scholar at the item level are also available and we are currently working to add citations from another industry leading citation database.

The World Bank open policies are a good example of Open Access movement not being limited only to institutions exclusively from the field of science. What is the most specific aspect of openness in institution which is not a part of the Academy?

As explained above Open Access at the World Bank is part of a broader agenda to modernize the institution and make it more accountable to its shareholders. Our goal is to make our research easily accessible to as wide an audience as possible. Extending and improving access to Bank research will encourage innovation and allow anyone in the world to build on Bank knowledge to develop solutions to development problems that will help improve the lives of poor people around the world.

This material is under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.

Additional information