Should open access be removed from REF requirements? - Samuel Moore

peter.suber's bookmarks 2024-06-17


"In the past week, three senior research strategy figures at the University of Oxford have called for removing the open access ‘burden’ from the rules for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF). For the past REF excercise, open access has been a requirement for all submitted journal articles and UKRI are also now consulting on plans to include books within the rules for the next exercise. The Oxford authors make a number of points that the REF open access rules are bureaucratic, not commensurate with value and work against the broader adoption of open research practices through a narrow focus on open access. This is a significant statement from a UK university and represents a more combative attitude towards open access than we have seen in recent years.

In a subsequent article, Research Information presented a series of responses from influential figures within research culture and open research, all of whom were highly critical of Oxford’s intervention. Sally Rumsey, former head of scholarly communications at Oxford, described it as ‘peculiar’ while Dorothy Bishop emeritus professor at Oxford, considered it a ‘“a retrograde step to question benefits of open access”. Stephen Curry of the Research on Research Institute said: “If Oxford was looking to burnish its reputation as a defender of the status quo with this blogpost, then it has succeeded admirably.” 

I think it’s helpful to have a conversation about whether the REF OA rules are still fit for purpose. To be sure, I’m not against OA in any way whatsoever, but I have been consistently critical of the burden of OA compliance. With reference to interviews with librarians and policymakers, my PhD thesis explored how the UK open access policy landscape created a culture of compliance that libraries were meant to orchestrate, in some cases forcing them to redirect staff from library publishing towards the REF policy. This burden was in addition to the fact that mandating open access via an increasingly bureaucratic set of regulations is not a particularly good way of getting researchers on board with broader cultures of openness. We still see a huge amount of apathy or antagonism to open access because of this.

Much has changed since my research was conducted and compliance is now firmly embedded within the UK library sector...."


From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) » peter.suber's bookmarks

Tags: oa.assessment oa.ref oa.recommendations oa.objections oa.debates oa.policies oa.mandates

Date tagged:

06/17/2024, 15:36

Date published:

06/17/2024, 11:38