The open access policy for REF 2021 was undeniably a big influence on the awareness and uptake of open access in UK Higher Education institutions when it was announced in 2014. The exercise finally gets underway next year, and once completed all eyes will turn to the next REF – no breaks here! While nothing has been announced officially, it seems likely that the open access policy will come to encompass more output types (for example monographs and books.) This would require changes in publisher policies, changes in researcher habits and responsibilities, and potentially changes in funding for open access publishing charges.
Plan S is another policy on the horizon, and will see specific requirements for open access from those signed up to cOAlition S. It will be interesting to see the response to all parts of the policy, such as the requirement for authors to retain copyright that is very often signed away, from both researchers and publishers.
With working and studying still disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the necessity of everyone having access to up-to-date and reliable information, open access has proved hugely important and will no doubt continue to be so. What forms this takes in the future, and how it is implemented by funders, universities, researchers, and publishers will be fascinating to see.
We are running an online event with Bristol University Library about open access on 11th November – ‘Open Access: Opening up academic research to the public’. This presentation will look at open access resources and guidance to interpreting academic papers. Sign up for the session on the UWE events page.
For nearly 10 years EPrints was used as a stand-alone Research Repository at UWE Bristol. A number of other research information systems were also not joined up to one another, resulting in the Research Office making a case for having a CRIS (Current Research Information System), called PIMS (Project Information and Management System) at UWE Bristol.
As a result, in Summer 2019 EPrints was retired, and Worktribe (the software behind PIMS) was used as the new UWE Bristol Research Repository. This has led to less downtime for the repository. It also means a smoother workflow for researchers, who are beginning to use Worktribe to record all aspects of their research journey – from bid stage right through to final outputs (which is where the repository comes in).
The team managing the UWE Bristol Research Repository are still working as they always have, continuing to check copyright and compliance issues, answering questions about the system, and improving things wherever possible. But the repository now looks very different. It was a huge amount of work to ensure that all the information was successfully transferred from the old system to the new, to learn all the features of a new, and rather different, piece if software, and to ensure researchers had the training they needed to use the new system. But we hope researchers like the change and start to find the recording aspect of their research easier with one joined up system!
During August and early September the Research Support Team ran webinars to raise awareness and encourage use of the various publisher open access deals that are available to UWE Bristol authors. These are deals negotiated as part of subscriptions with journals, which allow UWE Bristol authors to publish their articles open access without any extra cost to themselves.
We really want to ensure that UWE Bristol authors are aware of the publisher deals and making use of them. We decided to use Microsoft Teams (a skill we’d all picked up during lockdown!) and created a series of drop-in webinars, which researchers could attend to find out about the publisher deals we have and how they can apply for them. All of the publisher deals are available on the Research Support webpages, and on a linked Reading List.
In 2018, there was recognition in the Faculty of Environment and Technology (FET) at UWE Bristol that we didn’t have significant amounts of funding in order to make articles open access. The only fund available at this time to UWE Bristol authors was our UKRI block grant. Only UKRI funded researchers could access this, leaving many researchers unable to publish their work open access – and in some cases, unable to publish their work in the journal of their choice, if it was open access only.
As a consequence, the FET fund was set up – and is still in place today. Authors within FET are able to apply to this fund if they need help with paying open access charges, or APCS (article processing charges).
The fund is managed jointly by the Library Research Support team and the FET Associate Dean for Research, and has specific guidelines:
An application should be made by the corresponding UWE Bristol author prior to submission of the article. Having an article accepted for publication in an open-access journal is not sufficient reason that the APC should be paid. Authors will need to supply a copy of their article for review. Final judgment of applications will be made by the Associate Dean and Director of Research using the following criteria:
Is the article a high quality contribution to knowledge?
Is there a potential UWE Bristol impact case study to which the availability of knowledge in the article could contribute?
Is there a significant likelihood that timely availability of the article in open-access form could help advance towards and realise (further) impact?
In July, Plan S – the policy from cOAlition S funders to make funded articles open access – announced their rights retention policy, which explains how authors can achieve retaining the copyright of their articles. Copyright is usually signed away to the publisher when the article is accepted for publication.
A key element of Plan S is the retention of author copyright. Authors can comply with Plan S by making their article available through the gold open access route (the published version is made publicly available immediately upon publication) or through the green open access route (the accepted manuscript is made available in a repository.) Both routes to compliance require the manuscript to be released under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY) and with no embargo. This is the normal practice for the gold open access route, but the green open access route usually requires a 12-24 month embargo, and both usually require the authors to assign copyright to the publisher.
In response to this, cOAlition S revealed their Rights Retention Strategy, which enables authors to publish in the journal of their choice while still complying with Plan S. You can do this by applying a CC BY licence to your research output before it is submitted to a publisher. cOAlition S have suggested some wording to include when submitting your output to publishers. You should include text along the lines of:
“This work was funded by [funder name] [grant number] For the purpose of Open Access the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.”
The cOAlition S office is also contacting a large number of publishers to alert them of this policy. The letter informs publishers that:
Author Accepted Manuscripts arising from submissions they receive from researchers funded by a cOAlition S Organisation will already be licensed under a public licence, or that beneficiaries and their authors are bound by a prior obligation to provide such a public license to their AAMs or VoRs.
This public licence and/or agreed prior obligations take legal precedence over any later Licence to Publish or Copyright Transfer Agreement that the publisher may ask the author to sign.”
Stay tuned for more information about Plan S as it is revealed.
Publications written between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2020 can be submitted to REF 2021. Over the past six years, there have been a number of government changes, including the creation and disbanding of departments that run the REF. Research England now run the REF, rather than the now disbanded HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England).
The most significant change for the Library Research Support team was the mandate that all journal articles and conference papers with an ISSN attached must be made open access, preferably by being added to a repository. This change is applicable to all applicable outputs accepted for publication from 1 April 2016. To get the message across, we went out to faculties, Research Centres and departments (wherever we could find researchers!), with this basic message:
Add the author accepted manuscript of your article or conference paper to the repository as soon as it is accepted – and always, always within 3 months of acceptance. If you don’t, it won’t be compliant for the REF.
UWE Bristol authors can take advantage of several publisher deals to make their work open access. One of these is the deal with the publisher Wiley, launched in May.
The JISC/Wiley read and publish deal allows UWE Bristol authors to publish their articles open access in Wiley hybrid and fully open access journals for free. This means that upon publication their work is made available to everyone immediately, under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY).
However, from the 12th of October, this deal is restricted to researchers who are funded by Wellcome Trust, UKRI, Blood Cancer UK, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Parkinsons UK and Versus Arthritis.
As time went on, funders started to think not only about open access to research outputs, but also about open access to research datasets. This is still a much newer concept, and is not yet mandated by government bodies. There are additional issues around datasets, as many of them have privacy or sensitivity issues, which might mean they are not suitable to make fully open access in the same way as a journal article.
In 2015, EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) announced that every university needed to have a place for their funded researchers to store their datasets. UWE Bristol had already created a data repository as a result of a JISC-funded project back in 2012, but this hadn’t been recently promoted or built upon in any way.
The EPSRC requirement meant that the data repository was looked at again, to ensure it fulfilled the EPSRC requirements. It did, and the UWE Bristol Research Data Repository has been available for UWE researchers to add their datasets to ever since. There is more advice about managing your research data available on our webpages.
With researchers, academics, and students working from home, several publishers opened up access to their content and collections that are normally only available to subscribers. For many institutions, including UWE Bristol, it then became a race to find and promote these collections to academics and students.
The publishers have opened collections related to COVID-19 research and response such as ACS Publications, Mary Ann Liebert, and Wolters Kluwer; and distance learning such as Brill. These collections obviously relate to the pandemic and global situation, and most publishers have a dedicated area on their platform for this free to access content, for ease of searching and use.
As well as these specific resources, some publishers have opened up their general collections in order to aid education, such as Berghahn Books, Equinox Journals, and JSTOR. At UWE Bristol these resources were compiled onto a single page – Additional access to digital resources during COVID-19. This keeps the resources separate, so that they can be removed or adjusted as publishers adjust the access to their collections. These collections are not incorporated into the main library search for the same reason.
In 2013, the UWE Bristol Research Repository (which used the EPrints software) contributed to its first REF (Research Excellence Framework). The repository had always been promoted as a place for UWE Bristol authors to showcase their research.
A large proportion of the university’s research was recorded on the repository. Combined with information held by the research office, the repository was one of the best sources of information about research being carried out at the university.
The repository data was therefore combined with the information held by the Research Office (RBI) in order to support the REF 2014 submission process. It wasn’t an easy task, and took a lot of work to figure out how to effectively manage all the information. Many lessons were learnt about best future approaches to take, many of which are still in place today.
For this REF (REF 2021), things have changed. Research England expect journal articles and conference papers with an ISSN to be made open access, including via a repository. The UWE Bristol Research Repository plays a key role in ensuring this happens for our researchers. Some of the approaches we took back in 2013 helped to make this a smooth process. For example:
All UWE Bristol researchers are expected to add their own work to the repository (adding journal articles and conference papers with ISSNs is now mandatory)
The Library Repository team have always checked every deposit for copyright issues.
In 2014, compliance checks on repository deposits began to be made. These have become increasingly more in-depth as Research England has amended the open access deposit rules!