Open access and monographs – a new HEFCE project

open access logo, Public Library of ScienceEarlier this year HEFCE held two consultations with the sector about open access outputs and the post-2014 REF exercise (likely to be REF 2020).  As part of this is was suggested that monographs should not fall into the requirement to be freely available in order to be eligible for submission to the next REF, and HEFCE agreed to launch a project looking into the viability of this for future exercises.  The following text is taken from the HEFCE website:

Monographs, edited collections and other long-form publications are a very important part of the academic publishing world, and they hold particular importance for scholars in the humanities and social sciences. But many people tell us that monograph publishing is facing difficulties: sales are falling, costs are increasing, and scholars are finding it harder to find an outlet for their work.

In planning an approach for open access and the next REF, we received very clear advice that the monograph publishing world is not yet ready to support an open-access requirement. We have listened to this advice, and are proposing that monographs will not be required to be published in an open-access form to be eligible for the next REF.

But we are very keen to understand the issues better and to support efforts to solve them wherever possible. We are optimistic about the potential for open-access publishing to help sustain scholarly communications in the humanities and social sciences, and we are confident that open-access monograph publishing will continue to grow over the coming years.

A new HEFCE project – we want to understand the issues better, and help to identify potential ways forward. We have started a project, in collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, to help us do this.

Geoffrey Crossick, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, is leading this work. Professor Crossick was formerly Vice-Chancellor of the University of London and Warden of Goldsmiths.

We have convened an Expert Reference Group to establish what evidence is needed to inform understanding in this area, and to provide advice on an appropriate programme of work to gather this evidence.

The group brings together key representatives from interested organisations to develop increased understanding about the challenges and opportunities for open-access monograph publishing.

A steering group comprising representatives from HEFCE, the research councils, and the British Academy will govern the project. We expect the project to run until mid-2014.

For further information on HEFCE’s monographs work, please contact Ben Johnson, tel 0117 931 7038,