Impact of Social Sciences – HEFCE announces Open Access policy for the next REF in the UK: Why this Open Access policy will be a game-changer.

peter.suber's bookmarks 2014-04-01


"The UK’s periodic national research assessment exercise determines the funding for universities from the higher education funding bodies in the UK for the next period. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise, as it is called now (it was previously known as the Research Assessment Exercise, RAE), is One Great Big Thing for British universities. Not a single one of them can afford to be relaxed about it. What the REF requires, universities provide, jumping through any hoops necessary to do so. And that is why the new Open Access policy announced by HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) will change the OA game in the UK. The policy links the deposit of articles into repositories with the next REF, and with that simple requirement will come a change in culture in British universities. What exactly does the new policy require? It requires journal articles and peer-reviewed conference papers that are to be eligible for submission to the post-2014 REF (that is, the next REF exercise down the line) to be deposited in a repository at acceptance for publication. It does not require them to be Open Access at that time: like many institutional policies around the world, and like the Horizon 2020 policy for European research funding, it decouples deposit from OA, but insists that the deposit is made at the earliest possible time – when the paper has been formally accepted for publication. That’s the other nub. It is a requirement that will permanently change author habits. The second half of the job is the provision of Open Access. If there is no publisher-required embargo, which the SHERPA Romeo service notes is the case for 60% of journals, then the deposited item must be fully open from deposit. If the publisher imposes an embargo, the item stays closed until the end of the required period: the metadata (title, author, etc), however, remain open and discoverable and would-be readers can request a copy of the item during the embargo period through the automated ‘request an eprint’ button in the repository software. Such ‘closed’ deposits, awaiting the end of an embargo, will be submissible for the REF.  The policy is unusual – I think, unique – in defining ‘acceptance’: it says deposit must be ‘within 3 months of the date of the notification of acceptance for publication’. It requires the item deposited to be made openly accessible within a defined period. That period is 1 month where there is no embargo, and where there is a publisher-required embargo the policy permits this to be a maximum of 12 months in the sciences and engineering and 24 months in humanities and social sciences. In this matter it has followed RCUK’s permitted delays in opening up content ..."


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Tags: oa.deposits oa.mandates oa.funders oa.ref oa.hefce oa.comment ru.sparc oa.assessment oa.policies oa.repositories

Date tagged:

04/01/2014, 13:26

Date published:

04/01/2014, 08:28