We recently received a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from a reporter at Research Fortnight asking (in summary) how many of our Research Council (RCUK) outputs were made Open Access in the last year. The request highlighted that there is a lot of confusion about what is required from academics with RCUK grants in terms of Open Access. So, almost a year on from when the policy was published and spurred on from the FOI request I thought it was worth recapping on what the policy is and how we should be adhering to it. The full policy is available on the RCUK website. However, the key elements are as follows:
In April 2013, Research Councils UK (RCUK) launched their revised policy on Open Access with more gusto and clearer targets then ever before.
Current and future research fundamentally relies on access to the findings and ideas that come out of publicly-funded research. Research Councils UK (RCUK) fully support the concept of universal access so that everyone can benefit from this knowledge. Their policy on Open Access aims to achieve immediate, unrestricted, on-line access to peer-reviewed and published research papers, free of any access charge and their vision is for all users to be able to read published research papers in an electronic format and to search for and re-use (including download) the content of published research papers, both manually and using automated tools (such as those for text and data mining), provided that any such re-use is subject to full and proper attribution.
The policy applies to peer-reviewed research articles (including review articles not commissioned by publishers), which acknowledge Research Council funding, that are submitted for publication from 1st April 2013, and which are published in journals or conference proceedings.
The policy does not (currently) cover monographs, books, critical editions, volumes and catalogues, or forms of non-peer-reviewed material. However, RCUK encourages authors of such material to consider making them Open Access where possible.
Such works should be published in academic journals that comply with the policy. A Journal may comply with the policy through two routes:
- Gold Route
It must make the work immediately and freely accessible online under a CC-BY licence. An ‘Article Processing Charge’ (APC) may be payable. BU has a central fund to cover these costs – the Open Access Publication Fund.
- Green Route
The journal must allow deposit of the full and final text of the work (as accepted for publication including all changes arising from peer review) in a freely accessible online repository and without restriction on non-commercial re-use. An APC will not be payable. BU encourages researchers to deposit all articles upon acceptance in our instititional repository BURO via BRIAN.
The choice of route to Open Access remains with the researchers and BU, both ‘gold’ and ‘green’ routes to Open Access are acceptable. However, the policy preference is for immediate Open Access with the maximum opportunity for reuse (i.e. ‘gold’).
Works covered by the policy must acknowledge the funding source(s) using the standard format . They must also, if applicable, include a statement on how the underlying research materials – such as data, samples or models – can be accessed.
Implementation & Compliance
RCUK recognises that the journey to full Open Access is a process and not a single event and therefore expect compliance to grow over a transition period anticipated to be five years. The expectation is that:
- In Year 1 (1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014), research organisations ensure that a minimum of 45% of their research papers (arising from the RCUK research funds) are published Open Access, via either route.
- In Year 2 (1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015), research organisations ensure that a minimum of 53% of their research papers (arising from the RCUK research funds) are published Open Access, via either route.
- At the end of the transition period, RCUK expect researchers and institutions to be fully compliant with the policy, and for 100% of research papers arising from the research they fund to be published in journals that are compliant with their policy on Open Access. With 75% of Open Access papers being delivered through immediate, unrestricted, on-line access with maximum opportunities for re-use (‘gold’) .