25 February 2013
Open access and submissions to the REF post-2014
This letter notifies you of our intention to consult formally on the role of open-access publishing in the submission of outputs to the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). We would like some early input to help shape this consultation which will take place later this year. The consultation has no bearing on the 2014 REF.
The attached document sets out the developing intentions of the four UK higher education funding bodies. We invite you to comment and advise on a number of issues to inform the development of the consultation proposals.
Please send responses to email@example.com, by 25 March 2013. We will consider all responses received by this deadline. We welcome responses from any person or organisation with an interest in these matters. Please make it clear in your response whether you are responding as an individual or on behalf of a group or organisation....
David Sweeney, Director (Research, Innovation and Skills)
Open Access and Submissions to the Research Excellence Framework post-2014
The four UK higher education funding bodies are committed to the principle that the wide dissemination of research is an integral part of any high quality research process1…The established policy of the four funding bodies, therefore, is that outputs from all research supported though our funding should be as widely and freely accessible as the available channels for dissemination permit…
1. To support and encourage the further implementation of open access we intend to introduce a requirement that all outputs submitted to the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise are published on an open-access basis, where this is reasonably achievable and where, given the medium in which the output is presented, the concept of ‘open access’ applies.
2. We accept the Finch Report’s arguments that in the long term, the gold rather than green route may be the most sustainable way to deliver open access. We have made it clear that institutions can use our funds provided for research towards the costs of accessible forms of publication. The full costs and savings to institutions of the move to open access are, however, still unknown; it is our intention to work with others in building our knowledge in this area. As the transition to full open access will occur over a period of time, we propose to accept material published via either gold or green routes as eligible, recognising that it is not appropriate to express any preference in the context of research assessment. [emphasis added]…
Funding body expectations for open access in post-2014 REF
11. We propose to treat as ‘open access’ publications those which meet all of the following criteria:
deposited in the author's own institutional repository (see paragraph 13) immediately upon publication, although the repository may provide access in a way that respects agreed embargos (see paragraph 15)
made available as the final peer reviewed text, though not necessarily identical to the publisher’s edited and formatted version; and
presented in a form allowing the reader to search for and re-use content (including by download and for text-mining) both manually and using automated tools, provided such re-use is subject to proper attribution under appropriate licensing (see paragraph 16)…
12. We intend that work which has been originally published in an ineligible form then retrospectively made available in time for the post-2014 REF submission date should not be eligible, as the primary objective of this proposal is to stimulate immediate open-access publication. [Emphasis added]…
The role of institutional repositories
13. As part of our commitment to increasing public access, we intend to require that outputs meeting the REF open access requirement (whether published by the gold or green route) shall be accessible through an institutional repository. [Emphasis added]…
This reflects our view of the significant role of institutional repositories in increasing sustainable and convenient public access to research. It is our intention to support the development and use of these repositories as far as possible. We envisage couching this requirement in the following terms:
‘All submitted outputs covered by our requirement for open access above, and other submitted outputs that are available electronically, shall be available through a repository of the submitting institution.’
14. This would mean in practice that each submitting institution would maintain a web facility through which all relevant outputs might be identified and accessed (including items available through a link to another website).
1. Some publishers introduce embargo periods before work can be made available in an open-access form. Where embargoes apply we propose to determine eligible periods with regard to the practice of other major research funders at the time. Outputs will be eligible if they are still under an acceptable embargo at the REF submission date. The Research Councils are still developing their guidance on embargo periods in discussion with interested parties, including ourselves. We look forward to their decisions which, along with responses to this letter, will inform our final consultation proposals.
2. We welcome the discussions which the Research Councils are having about licences with various parties. We recognise there are concerns, particularly in the arts and humanities community, about the potential dangers of licence abuse. Allowing re-use of materials is an important aspect of open-access publishing, and developing effective licences in terms that recognise the interests of all stakeholders will be an essential element in this.
While we expect that sufficient clarity and reassurance on embargoes and licences will be achieved through the Research Council discussions, we welcome responses
We invite comment on whether respondents feel this is the appropriate approach or whether they feel that sufficient progress has in fact been made to implement a requirement for open data as well. We will consider any representations that such a requirement may reasonably now be developed but would also need advice on how this might be achieved.
Summary of areas for advice
1. This template provides a summary of the areas on which we are seeking advice. You may use this template to respond with your advice if you would find it helpful.
2. Please send responses to firstname.lastname@example.org by 25 March 2013
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