OA in the UK - Editor Resources

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OA in the UK: commentary on the UKRI Open Access Review

Summary

UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) have outlined their proposals for future open access (OA) research policy in the UK via an online Review and consultation which will run to 29 May 2020.

The key aims of the draft policy are:

  • that research outputs should be ‘freely and immediately available online’, either by publishing the final article (Version of Record) on an open access basis (‘gold OA’) or immediately posting the Accepted Manuscript version to a repository (‘green OA’). UKRI also include their proposal around OA for monographs, edited collections and chapters – requiring open access to these outputs within 12 months of publication;
  • that outputs should be licensed in a way that maximises re-use;
  • value for money;
  • ease of compliance;
  • sustains confidence in quality of research communications.

We support UKRI’s aspirations around moving towards Open. We agree that Open Research, if appropriately implemented, can benefit society, generate greater academic, social and economic impact, and improve research integrity and rigour. We support a policy that increases the proportion of research outputs that are immediately available for anyone to access, whilst ensuring that adequate funding is in place to support their creation, dissemination and curation on an Open basis.

We advise our editors and society partners to engage with this consultation and to submit their own views. We’ll be hosting webinars in March, look out for an invite via your Editorial contact.

What is the Open Access Review?

The Review outlines a proposed open access (OA) policy for research articles, monographs, chapters and edited collections. It applies to researchers who receive grant funding through UKRI or its constituent bodies (Research England, Innovate UK and the Research Councils) and to institutions who receive block grants from the same bodies. It will apply to research articles accepted for publication from 1 January 2022 and to monographs, book chapters and edited collections accepted from 1 January 2024. UKRI intend to announce a final policy for both articles and books by the end of 2020, building in time for policy implementation.

UKRI acknowledge the positive progress made to date in the UK with moving towards Open, noting that the UK has achieved “some of the highest levels of OA in the world” thanks to “researchers, funders, research organisations, publishers and other stakeholders [working] together”. They also highlight a requirement around the “value for money of its investments” and cost effectiveness is a recurring theme in the consultation document. The proposed OA policy “aligns with the ambitions of Plan S” but that the consultation “is not a consultation on Plan S”.

What is the proposed OA policy?

There are currently two OA policies in the UK:

The proposed new policy will replace the current UKRI policy. UKRI would also like this proposed OA policy to inform the future OA policy for the post 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF).

We estimate that both policies will impact at least 75% of UK authored research outputs.

The policy for research articles

The proposed policy for research articles mandates that they be made freely and immediately available online via a journal, OA publishing platform or subject or institutional repository. This covers either the final published article (Version of Record) or the Accepted Manuscript version (the article after it has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication in a journal).

UKRI want research to be easy to re-use; to this end they propose that work will need to be published under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence which enables the re-use of work as long as the original creator receives credit.

The policy for monographs, book chapters and edited collections

For monographs, book chapters and edited collections the suggested policy states that OA will be required within  12 months of publication, licensed under a CC BY or Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND) licence. The CC BY-ND licence is a more restrictive licence than CC BY. It allows for re-use of work by third parties provided the work is used in full without any changes.

What feedback is UKRI requesting?

UKRI is inviting views on the proposed policy through an online consultation, consisting of around 60 questions covering all aspects of the policy. The consultation also allows respondents to add their own comments and evidence around the costs and benefits of OA.

UKRI is seeking views on a number of areas including:

  • Licensing exceptions, including allowing CC BY-ND on a case by case basis for research articles, and implications of third-party content;
  • technical requirements for journals (our journals meet almost all of these requirements);
  • terms and conditions on how UKRI OA funds can be used, including whether to allow publication in hybrid journals;
  • the mechanisms through which UKRI distributes funding.

Taylor & Francis will be submitting a response to the consultation, and we encourage editors and society partners to submit their own feedback. 

UKRI plan to announce a final policy for both research articles and books by the end of 2020. This allows a year for implementation of the policy for research articles (and three for books).

What is Taylor & Francis’s position?

Taylor & Francis is a transformative publisher. We champion choice for researchers world-wide, whatever their field of research. We have consistently evolved to deliver what researchers expect, however they are funded: a range of services characterized by quality, trust and impact. This includes Plan S-compliant venues supported by an extensive and growing range of Open Access journals and Transformative Agreements.

Taylor & Francis is a strong advocate of Open Research. We are actively investigating routes to Open across our content and disciplines. We want to work with UKRI and other stakeholders including researchers, institutions and funders to accelerate the transition towards Open and build on the UK’s leadership in this area.

As of 2017 54% of all UK research was freely available, compared to a global average of 33%[1], tallying with our own data showing that half of the UK-authored research we’ve published from 2016 to 2018 is already openly available.

We support UKRI’s aspirations around moving towards Open. We agree that Open Research, if appropriately implemented, can benefit society, generate greater academic, social and economic impact, and improve research integrity and rigour. We support a policy that increases the proportion of research outputs that are immediately available for anyone to access, whilst ensuring that adequate funding is in place to support their creation, dissemination and curation on an Open basis.

We feel that policy alignment between UKRI and REF is sensible and welcome the focus on workflows and standards to facilitate OA.

UKRI has called for reassurance around value for money of its investments. We aim for transparency with all of our stakeholders about the costs of the services that go in to producing trusted research outputs. We have always been transparent about the terms of our deals with library and consortia customers, have never insisted on confidentiality, and in fact were the first publisher to disclose the full terms of our transformative deal with the Dutch consortium VSNU.

We aim to offer solutions to UK institutions to help them transition to OA in a sustainable way. We also plan to offer more information about our OA pricing, to give authors, funders and policymakers a better sense of the services they will receive and the value of those services.

We do not feel that the green OA route to compliance is a viable long term means to achieve Open, especially without an embargo period that enables the investment in producing the Accepted Manuscript version to be recovered. This is because producing the Accepted Manuscript directly depends on services that are currently supported by subscriptions. Publishers serve the research community by providing services that are essential to creating trusted research outputs. This includes editorial development; author and peer reviewer recruitment, training and support; support to learned societies; ongoing investment in technology and infrastructure; contribution to industry-level standards that improve quality and interlink the scholarly communication record; and long-term hosting and preservation. These services assist the advancement of quality research, but inevitably come at a cost. The Accepted Manuscript version owes its creation to many of these services, and its production is underwritten by subscription funding in case of articles, or by libraries purchasing the final book in the case of monographs.

We share a common goal with UKRI in shifting the default to Open. To fully realise the potential of Open Research change needs to occur at all stages of the research cycle. We understand UKRI’s rationale for focusing initially on research outputs, however we recommend that, as part of its communication following the consultation, UKRI provides more information around its plans for changing research culture, including rewards and incentives in institutions.

We will be providing further feedback to UKRI through the consultation and plan to make our response public.

How do I find out more?

We will be holding virtual briefings in the coming weeks for our editors and society partners to provide more detail on the policy and our understanding of its implications. We’ll also allow time for questions. Our first sessions will be held in March – look out for an invite to these webinars from your Editorial contact. If you can’t make that date or should you have any questions in the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact us.


[1] Key findings from the Universities UK report on Monitoring the Transition to Open Access, 2017

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