Discussing the HEFCE and RCUK Open Access policies

Photo of Steven Hill from HEFCE presenting
Steven Hill from HEFCE

Both HEFCE and RCUK representatives were presenting at the “OA Advocacy Workshop: Joining the Dots” event in London on Friday so it was a good chance to hear discussion and debate about their respective open access policies (up on the HEFCE and RCUK websites). The presentations they used are below and I am simply highlighting the key points that appealed to me (and errors in interpretation are entirely my fault).

The RCUK policy in particular has been in the news as the first independent review was published today with some recommendations for change. Mark Thorley from RCUK alluded to this review in his talk but could not divulge details at the time. He emphasized that scholarly communication needed to adapt to a digital, networked world where anyone could publish and disseminate on the web – we need to ensure that quality peer-reviewed outputs are there – and freely accessible – to address the less well informed or researched viewpoints.

Steven Hill from HEFCE emphasized the simplicity at the heart of the new post-2014 REF Open Access policy – they want everything open access! This means increasing the uptake of open access options, boosting the use of repositories, urging researchers themselves to take action to achieve this:

He was quite frank that HEFCE were not opting for the path of least resistance and recognized they are setting an ambitious target. Someone asked about the promise of extra credit for institutions who embrace open access that has been mentioned in the REF policy – whilst nothing has been clarified on this, the example he gave was institutions embracing a CC-BY licence for a high percentage publications. He also mentioned that including monographs in open access requirements was something they hoped to address sooner rather than later.

Both speakers agreed that their emphasis was firmly upon improving the dissemination of research, even if there was a short-term cost which may cut into the money going directly for research.

Sarah Fahmy also gave an update on the many ways JISC are working to help the sector cope with the new open access demands. There are no guarantees that they will be able to get things in place for the start of the REF policy on 1 April 2016 but they are trying to develop at speed (“agile”). The overview was very similar to this presentation from Digifest which illustrates all the work going on at present:

Swansea University & Open Access

At Swansea, we have already been out spreading the word on the new REF Open Access policy and listening to concerns so we can support our researchers with these new demands on their time. We will be continuing this work next term but see our webpages or contact us at iss-research@swansea.ac.uk if you have questions or would like us to come and speak with your department / research group.

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