Have your say on Open Access!

RCUKResearch Councils UK (RCUK) has recently launched a call for evidence for the 2014 review of the implementation of the RCUK policy on Open Access.

The independent review is aimed at helping RCUK to understand how effective the Open Access policy has been and what impact it has had on universities, research organisations, publishers and researchers.

“This is an open call and the review panel will be interested to hear from individuals, institutions and organisations alike where there is evidence of how the implementation of the RCUK Policy on Open Access is having an impact. Although we recognise that this review is taking place early in the policy’s implementation period, it is a good opportunity to take stock and we hope that as much evidence as possible is put forward to the review.”

Professor Sir Robert Burgess, Chair of the Independent Review Panel

The review panel, chaired by former University of Leicester vice-chancellor Bob Burgess, wants to hear from anyone who is interested in the open-access policy. It is expected that the panel will report their interim findings to RCUK Executive Group by the end of 2014 with a full report expected in the first part of 2015. Further details on the call can be found on the RCUK Website. The deadline for submissions is 12th September 2014.

Academic Book of the Future

AHRCThe AHRC is pleased to invite collaborative proposals to explore the Academic Book of the Future in the context of open access publishing and the digital revolution.

This is a collaboration between the AHRC and the British Library, with both organisations taking an active role in engaging with the successful research team. This is an open call and applications may be submitted from any eligible Research Organisation, or AHRC recognised Independent Research Organisation, except for the British Library.

An RO may submit more than one proposal, and may be involved in more than one collaboration.

A single consortium will be funded through this scheme, with total project costs up to a value of £450k FEC, with AHRC providing 80% of the costs, and lasting up to 24 months from October 2014.

Closing date: 27/03/2014

Further information: http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/Funding-Opportunities/Documents/Future-Academic-Book-Call.pdf 

Research Fortnight: Open-access review will be independent, pledges RCUK

Research Fortnight Today

Research Councils UK has committed to commissioning and independent review of its open access policies in 2014, in updated guidelines published on 9 April.

RCUK first published an open-access policy in July 2012. A revised policy was published on 6 March and following consultation on this a second revision has now been published.

The organisation has said that the initial review of its open-access policy, to take place in 2014, will have an independent chairman and will include independent members. It has also provided more details on what issues will be examined, including the policy’s impact on different disciplines, peer review and collaboration both within the UK and internationally.

As well as confirming that the 2014 review will be the first in a series, with subsequent reviews expected in 2016 and 2018, RCUK has changed the name of the policy’s ‘Monitoring’ section to ‘Collecting evidence for the 2014 review’.

An RCUK spokeswoman says the renaming “reflects the fact that in the short term it is going to be collecting data” for the 2014 review. Best practice methods for data collection from researchers are being developed with the Research Information Network, she adds.

In its most recent guidance, RCUK also provides extra information on what it will need for the open-access policy reviews. For RCUK to assess the block grant for article processing charges, research organisations will need to submit a “short financial report setting out expenditure by named publishers, together with brief description of other uses made of the grant”.

RCUK has insisted that researchers have the freedom to choose between green and gold open access, saying it is up to the author and their research organisation where they publish.

The revised policy also clarifies the stages in the five-year transition period to open access. It says the 45 per cent open-access target in the first year can be met via either route, and that this will rise to 53 per cent in the second year.

However, its stated aim is that, by the end of the five years, 75 per cent of open-access papers from the research RCUK funds “will be delivered through immediate, unrestricted, on-line access with maximum opportunities for re-use (gold)”.

The document now also explicitly states that RCUK will not use journal impact factors when assessing research funding proposals: “RCUK considers that it is the quality of research proposed, and not where an author has or is intending to publish, that is of paramount importance”.

Finally, RCUK has committed to updating a frequently asked questions document, which it published at the same time as this update.

by Rebecca Hill

Open Access: Know your Green from your Gold

If you’re aware of the Open Access (OA) debate in UK Higher Education but want a refresher on the details in advance of the RUCK OA policy, which comes into force on 1st April 2013, you should take a look at Times Higher’s latest feature:

Fool’s Gold? – Times Higher Education

It’s one of the most comprehensive and readable summaries of the recent history of OA policy in UK HE that I’ve read, covering issues including the current journal publication system (primarily ever-increasing subscription charges for libraries which last year even Harvard said were getting pricey), the Finch Report, Green vs Gold OA, RCUK’s OA policy and the differing reactions to OA in humanities and the sciences.


by David Young

RCUK announces block grants for universities to aid drives to open access to research outputs

Research Councils UK has today, 8th November, announced the details of the block grant funding mechanism that it is introducing to aid implementation of its policy on Open Access that was announced in July and is due to come into effect in April 2013.

The block grants, which will be provided by the Research Councils from April, are to fund article processing charges (APCs). Research Councils are committed to providing funding for APCs in the long term; however, funding levels are only specified at present for an initial period of two years from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2015.There will be an interim review in 2014 to consider how the system is working and to determine the level of funding to be provided in the next Spending Review period post 2014/15.

The funding the Research Councils will allocate to supporting APCs is likely to increase in line with the expected growth in take up and the estimated total cost of APCs over this initial five year period. This also reflects the time that will be needed for researchers, institutions and publishers to transition into a Gold OA model.

In the first year (2013/14), RCUK will provide funding to enable around 45% of Research Council funded research papers to be published using Gold Open Access growing to over 50% in the second year. By the fifth year (2017/18) funding is expected to be provided to enable approximately 75% of Research Council funded research papers to be published using Gold Open Access. The remaining 25% of Research Council funded papers, it is expected will be delivered via the Green Open Access model. The same compliance expectation applies to Research Council institutes, and separate funding arrangements are being put in place to facilitate this.

Universities will receive APC publication funding in proportion to the amount of direct labour costs awarded on grants that they have received over the three years from April 2009 to March 2012. Direct labour costs have been used as a proxy of research effort leading to the generation of publications.

In order to ensure that there is administrative efficiency in the new funding mechanism for both universities and the Research Councils, a cut-off point has been set so that only institutions that are eligible for a block grant of £10, 000 or more in year-5 will receive funding. As part of the interim review in 2014 the Research Councils will look at any issues around this cut off point and, in discussion with the research community, will continue to consider whether there is the need for strategic intervention in special cases. Although not all institutions in receipt of Research Council funding will receive a block grant, the Research Councils expect that around 99% of papers arising from the research that they fund will be produced by researchers in institutions to be awarded a block grant.

For further information please see the announcement here: http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/media/news/2012news/Pages/121108.aspx