Category Archives: REF

REF Open Access policy: determining the date of acceptance

Calendar

A key feature of the REF Open Access policy is that papers must be deposited in RIS within three months of acceptance for publication. We therefore need to record the date of acceptance in RIS for every journal articles (or serial conference proceedings paper) so that we can prove this was done. For many papers, the date of acceptance is displayed on the publisher site or PDF. For some journals however it is not easy to determine what qualifies as the “date of acceptance”, particularly if an article has been requested or the route to publication is not straightforward.

The REF Draft Guidance available now has this to say about dates of acceptance:

‘Date of acceptance’ means the date given in the acceptance letter or email from
the publisher to the author as the ‘firm’ accepted date.

They go on to clarify:

Outputs that are published by a journal or conference proceedings which does not require peer review are within the scope of this policy. In this instance, the author’s final accepted version must be deposited. The date of acceptance in this instance should be taken as the date that the publisher confirms that the article has been received from the author and will subsequently be published.

If you are still unsure what counts as the date of acceptance, please get in touch with the Library Research Support Team and we can advise.

 

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Making a paper open access step-by-step

This post is a walk-through of the process for making a journal article open access on our institutional repository, as required by REF / SU’s open access policy.

If you can pay for “Gold” open access with the publisher (including a CC-BY licence), then your paper will be compliant. You may wish to consider using one of the Springer journals covered by the UK open access agreement with that publisher. This gives free open access publication to SU staff and students in one of the applicable titles. We have funding for open access for UKRI researchers.

Scenario: you have written an article and you want to submit it for publication.

Check that the journal allows you to comply with open access requirements: use Sherpa Romeo. If you have a research funder, check your funder’s policy as it is likely to have more restrictions.

Points to check on Sherpa Romeo are:

  1. If there is an embargo period, is it longer than 12 months (STEM) or 24 months (social science/humanities)? If so, this will not comply with the REF open access policy. You can still submit to the journal but you will need to produce evidence for the REF that you considered other journals and only this one was suitable.
  2. Do they allow you to upload the accepted version (post-print) onto an institutional repository at a minimum? Published version would be even better. If not, you can still submit to the journal but you will need to produce evidence for the REF that you considered other journals and only this one was suitable.

Acceptance: Your paper is peer reviewed, a few changes are requested and then you are contacted to say the paper has been accepted.

  1. Create a record on RIS with the information you have: title, journal, date of acceptance.
  2. Upload the accepted version: this is your final version which includes any changes made following peer review. Convert a Word document to PDF. If you are allowed to make your paper immediately available before publication, use the “Publish to Cronfa” link next to the file in RIS to make it appear the next day.

Your paper is finally published (either online, early, or in an issue of the journal).

  • Once the article is published, use the “Publish to Cronfa” link next to the file in RIS to set your full text file to release to Cronfa either immediately (if there is no embargo) or on a date in the future.

Whenever your paper becomes open access, be sure to promote it with a link to the Cronfa page so that readers can find the full text. You can track views and downloads on Cronfa and there will also be information on altmetrics (social media activity) and citations if these accrue.

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New report on UK Open Access Compliance

The front page of the report

Research England (formerly HEFCE) has announced the release of a new report: “Monitoring sector progress towards compliance with funder open access policies” (PDF). This reports the results from a UK-wide survey conducted in late 2017 looking at how universities are managing compliance with the REF, UKRI (formerly RCUK) & other funder open access policies.

The widely-reported headline finding has been “Over 80% of research outputs meet requirements of REF 2021 open access policy” but Cambridge University’s Danny Kingsley has written in response on their “Unlocking Research” blog: “Compliance is not the whole story” picking up a key point made in the report, that “the increased open access to research is resulting from considerable effort on the part of researchers, libraries, research offices”.

Read the report here (3 page Executive Summary available!)

Helen Snaith’s blog post for Research England: “REFlecting on progress towards open access

David Sweeney for WONKHE: “Open Access – are we almost there for REF?”

Danny Kingsley’s response “Compliance is not the whole story”.

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Open Access & the REF: an update

logo

HEFCE announced further clarification on the rules for REF2021 yesterday (PDF here) and this included some decisions on outputs and open access (on p.8). Key points are:

  • The policy is felt to be working in that more papers than ever before have been made open access.
  • The original policy stands with respect to the timeframe for researchers to act: papers must be uploaded to RIS within 3 months of acceptance.
  • However, there will be an exception to cover papers that miss this deadline but are uploaded within 3 months of publication.

The rules around this crucial timing issue have varied during the REF period so a summary is given below:

Papers accepted for publication before 1 April 2016 do not need to comply with the REF open access policy in order to be submitted to the REF (however they are encouraged to be made open access).

Papers accepted for publication between 1 April 2016 and 1 April 2018 need to comply with the REF Open Access policy to be submitted: for this period, the full text of the article needed to be uploaded into RIS within 3 months of the date of online publication (unless the paper was published with Gold Open Access on the publisher site or one of the other exceptions can be applied). Papers that were not uploaded to RIS within 3 months of publication (or which failed to meet other conditions of the policy e.g. minimum embargo period) cannot be submitted to the REF.

Paper accepted for publication after 1 April 2018 will need to comply with the REF Open Access policy to be submitted: the full text of the paper must be uploaded into RIS within 3 months of acceptance for publication (unless the paper was published with Gold Open Access on the publisher site or one of the other exceptions can be applied). It will be possible to claim an exception for papers that miss this deadline but which are uploaded within 3 months of publication. Papers that are not uploaded to RIS within 3 months of publication (or which fail to meet other conditions of the policy e.g. minimum embargo period) cannot be submitted to the REF.

The Library Research Support team checks for REF compliance and reports on this to Research Directors & REF staff. We are currently seeing around 85-90% of papers complying with the REF Open Access policy. We will be doing further publicity in 2018 to ensure all researchers are aware of what they need to do and know that we will be glad to help with any questions: iss-research@swansea.ac.uk.

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The REF Open Access policy is 1 year old

Birthday_Cake

Saturday 1st April 2017 marked the one year anniversary for the REF Open Access policy: this covers all journal articles and (some) conference proceedings accepted for publication after 1st April 2016. These papers must comply with HEFCE’s Open Access policy or they cannot be submitted to the REF.

Green Open Access on Cronfa

We have seen much progress around open access at Swansea University in the last year. Unsurprisingly, there has been a marked increase in papers made open access on our repository Cronfa: the REF policy is all about encouraging researchers to take advantage of publisher copyright policies that allow the accepted version of an article to be made public on a repository, known as “Green Open Access”.

The home page of Cronfa shows our latest full text additions, plus the most-downloaded articles of all time and the last week/month. Whilst Cronfa documents feed into the Core repository search portal and will turn up in Google search results, they are still not appearing regularly on Google Scholar. Reasons for this are not clear but we continue to investigate and are not alone in having this issue with our repository content. If you have an open access version of a paper on Cronfa circulating the URL to the open version ensures maximum impact.

Gold Open Access

We are also seeing many articles published with “Gold” (paid-for) open access. This is not essential for the REF Open Access policy (unless the chosen journal does not permit self-archiving to comply with the HEFCE policy). Whilst we do have money available for RCUK-funded publications, most of the Gold Open Access papers are paid for from research funding or other sources; Swansea University does not have an institutional fund for open access.

We have also seen 27 Swansea University authors take advantage of the excellent Springer deal for free open access in selected journals. This option is available to any staff or student who is corresponding author on a paper submitted to certain Springer journals.

REF Open Access Policy Compliance

For various reasons, it is difficult to give precise figures for REF Open Access compliance at this stage but our estimates suggest we are seeing strong levels of compliance (very rough estimate = 85-90%) for all papers that have been added to RIS (not just those that may be submitted to a future REF). There may be papers published by Swansea University authors but not yet added to RIS which would alter this estimate. The university’s own open access policy means that ALL publications should be made open access where possible, not just those that may be submitted to the REF.

Increased Support for Open Access

The Library Research Support Team expanded with 2 new posts in 2016 which reflects the additional reporting and compliance work around open access: Caroline Rauter is the Scholarly Communications Officer (c.rauter@swansea.ac.uk) and Penny Lauder is the Scholarly Communications Assistant (p.j.lauder@swansea.ac.uk). The team is managed by Annette Linton, Head of Library Content and Scholarly Communications (a.m.linton@swansea.ac.uk). We can be contacted on iss-research@swansea.ac.uk and more information on the support we offer can be found on our web pages. We work closely with staff in the Colleges on advocacy and support for open access.

The College of Engineering have also appointed Rebecca Kelleher as REF Officer (r.kelleher@swansea.ac.uk), who offers a REF compliant mediated deposit service to RIS/Cronfa for all staff in Engineering and Sport & Exercise Sciences and she also reports on Open Access compliance for the College.

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Does Arxiv satisfy the REF Open Access policy?

 

Short answer: no. The accepted version of a paper needs to be uploaded to RIS as well.

The HEFCE REF Open Access policy includes “subject based repositories” as a suitable home for open access papers. The associated FAQ state that HEFCE do not stipulate which repositories meet their requirements. One of the best known subject repositories is Arxiv, hosted at Cornell University Library: “Open access to 1,225,076 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics” (at time of writing). These subject areas have a longstanding tradition of open science: scholars publish pre-prints on Arxiv for review which then later may get published in scholarly journals.

Traditionally Arxiv is a “pre-print” server rather than the accepted version (or post-print) that is needed for the REF policy, although sometimes these will also be on the site. Unfortunately at the moment files uploaded to Arxiv cannot be used to satisfy the REF Open Access policy because Arxiv does not record the date of acceptance for a paper and the version of the paper to satisfy the REF OA policy’s technical and audit requirements. We believe discussions are ongoing to try and resolve this but Swansea University researchers need to ensure they follow the guidance for compliance with the open access policy and upload the accepted version of all papers to RIS at acceptance for publication. The university’s own open access policy requires that researchers upload the accepted version of a paper into RIS so this remains the position even when an open version of the paper is on Arxiv.

Guidance on the open access policies is on the web here or SU researchers are welcome to contact the Library Research Team at iss-research@swansea.ac.uk.

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The Stern Review of the REF

As you may have seen in the press the Stern review has just issued a report of its recommendations. Some of the main ones are:

  • That all research active staff should be included in the REF.
  • Outputs should be submitted at Unit of Assessment Level. There will be an average number of submissions but with flexibility for some people to submit more and others less than the average.
  • Outputs will not be portable between institutions – this is to avoid universities “buying in” researchers with a good portfolio just before the REF.
  • Peer review will still be the main means of assessment although metrics will be provided for panels.
  • There will be institutional level impact case studies to encourage universities to show their interdisciplinary impacts. Support for interdisciplinary and cross-institutional initiatives are also mentioned under environment.

As all researchers are now likely to be included in the REF it is even more important that everyone submits their work to the Research Information System.

If you want to know more try:

The Stern Review

Stern aims for lower REF workload,  more “game-changing” research. THES

Will REF “portability” plans hobble early career academics. THES

Being Stern about portability / Athene Donald’s blog

Stern review deserves a co-operative response / Universities UK blog

Universities cautiously welcome “sensible” Stern review / Research Professional

 

 

 

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