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