Response to the UKRI Review of Open Access Policies

Open Access

Evidence to Inform a Response to the UKRI Review of Open Access Policies: A report for the Publishers Association was written by Dr Michael Jubb in December 2019.

Executive Summary

The UK continues to show leadership in relation to Open Access. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is currently undertaking a review into its Open Access policies, with the OA policies for the Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Research Excellence Framework 2021 policy (REF) both in scope. The intention is to maximize access to, and re-use of, research published across formal scholarly research articles, peer reviewed conference proceedings and monographs, building on the progress made following the Finch Review in 2012.

This report emphasizes that publishers – small and large, commercial and non-commercial – share in the desire to make the transition to OA a reality as comprehensively and rapidly as possible. There are some concerns as to how to best navigate the transition period, but publishers are ultimately committed to finding the necessary mechanisms to accelerate transformations.

For the purposes of this report, publishers, librarians and researchers have all contributed to conversations around three central themes:

  • Green OA and embargo periods;
  • Licensing requirements; and
  • Hybrid journals.

These dialogues elucidated a strong case for appropriate embargo periods if the Green OA model is to remain viable. Whilst some circumstances do justify zero embargos, publishers were able to explain why this model cannot successfully operate if zero embargoes are the norm. Interviewees similarly outlined the important role non-derivative and non-commercial licenses can play in some instances, protecting authors from misrepresentation and protecting publishers against the misappropriation of their investments.

Most positively, this report has considered the role that transformative agreements will play in realising the UK’s OA ambitions. Coupled with the work done by hybrid journals, “read and publish” agreements have become increasingly popular over the last 2 to 3 years, leading to unprecedented take-up of OA. Publishers therefore believe their adoption will be the most effective route to widespread implementation of OA within a reasonable timescale. Contributors to this report have outlined some constructive suggestions as to how to productively leverage transformative arrangements, emphasizing that future policies should be mindful of the logistical complexities of executing hundreds of agreements between publishers and universities.

All stakeholders now await the proposals to be set out in UKRI’s consultation paper, due to be published in January 2020. Publishers look forward to developing the findings of this report to agree practical solutions for the next stage of the UK’s OA policy journey.