Books & the REF: a small update

HEFCE have updated their FAQs for the REF Open Access policy (no.7.3) with a small but significant statement concerning books (in bold below):

“As noted in FAQ 2.1, it is not a requirement that books be made available in an open-access form to be admissible as outputs to the next REF.

As we stated more broadly in our circular letter of July 2015 (20/2015), we will expect institutions to include a short description in each submission on progress towards delivering open access, including their overall approach to open access strategy and infrastructure. While we have not developed detailed guidance, we may be particularly interested in any quantitative evidence of the proportion of published books that are made available as OA, as part of this statement.

We have already blogged on developments around the open access academic monograph and the open access options available, most of which have a fairly substantial cost. It will be interesting to see how any future requirements for books to be made open access (as seems likely for the REF  beyond the next one) can be achieved without substantial resourcing. This blog post gives an interesting overview and highlights the potential role of the university press in this.

As stated above, the current REF Open Access policy does not include books and book chapters. Regarding journal articles and conference proceedings, it notes that “institutions can achieve full compliance without incurring any additional publication costs through article processing charges” i.e. by taking the green route to open access.

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