“At first glance, consultations are an opportunity for organisations and individuals to shape a particular policy intervention through their responses. The architects of Plan S have granted the public an opportunity to voice their concerns with the expectation that these concerns are both heard and taken onboard in the resulting policy. This reading appeals to liberal-democratic notions of governance that assume the correct way to proceed will prevail, or that a compromise can be reached, if people can air their grievances through open and frank exchange of ideas.
The problem with such a conception of policy consultations is that it isn’t in clear how they should work: Whose comments should be taken into account (and are they weighted somehow)? Who gets to speak for whom? How do the Plan S architects incorporate such divergent and often oppositional feedback? Put simply, it is unclear how such feedback could ever result in a representative and fair process if all responses have to be accounted for somehow. Policy consultations are thus not an exercise in radical democracy….
In my PhD thesis, I looked at the creation of the HEFCE policy for open access for the next Research Excellence Framework. From reading a number of the consultation responses, and interviewing one of the policymakers at HEFCE, it became clear to me that the consultation was used to position actors in blocs so as to justify certain elements of the policy. For example, HEFCE were able to point to the consultation responses from learned societies and commercial publishers in order to make the case for a longer embargo length, even though many responses from different actors argued that embargos should be shorter. Learned societies and publishers were positioned by HEFCE as two different kinds of actors (the voices of academics and publishers) even though they both have a financial interest in the profits of the academic publishing industry. The consultation was thus used to justify (rather than reform) certain elements of the policy in accordance with the wishes of certain actors. The divergent responses to the consultation are helpful because they allow policymakers to cherrypick evidence that can make the policy more acceptable and seem more thought through….”
“Research England (formally HEFCE) has stated that monographs must be published OA for inclusion in the REF2027 (Hill, 2018). Based on the REF2014 submissions, where publication dates for books submitted ranged from 2008 to 2013 (Tanner, 2016), titles submitted for the REF2027 will likely be being researched now for publication in 2021 or later. This presents a relative urgency for a functional, interoperable and transparent OA market to be developed that supports the long tail and is flexible enough to suit the diversity of AHSS research and its funding streams….”
“When the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) announced its open access policy last March the news was greeted with great enthusiasm by OA advocates, who view it as a “game changer” that will ensure all UK research becomes freely available on the Internet. They were especially happy that HEFCE has opted for a green OA policy, believing that this will provide an essential green component to the UK’s “otherwise one-sided gold OA policy”. The HEFCE policy will come into effect on 1st April 2016, but how successful can we expect it to be, and what are the implications of linking open access to the much criticised Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the way HEFCE has done? These are, after all, strange bedfellows. Might there be better ways of ensuring that research is made open access? …”
“That question of institutional relationship may have a whole new sense of urgency for some presses depending on how the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and its successor Research England, unpacks a key announcement made at the conference. Actually, “announcement” is overstating it: it was more an expansion of an earlier hint on page 36 (Annex C) of December 2016’s Second Consultation on the Second Research Excellence Framework, that to be eligible for the next but one Research Excellence Framework (REF), which feeds the distribution of £1.6 billion of annual quality-related university funding in the UK, all monographs will need to be available in an OA manner. That is, in just over 1000 days from now in January 2021, when the REF 2027 cycle starts, UK university academic book authors will be expected to meet some as yet unspecified OA requirements. Only time will tell the exact form of OA that will be prescribed – Annex C somewhat frustratingly states ‘We do not intend to set out any detailed open-access policy requirements for monographs in a future REF exercise in this annex,’ and there hasn’t been a great deal of public discussion with publishers since its publication, at least until HEFCE’s Head of Research Policy, Steven Hill, threw down the gauntlet at Redux. Meanwhile, the 19 ‘new university presses’ in the UK and 12 institutions considering following suit according to JISC’s Graham Stone, look distinctly like a hedge on the long-term future of scholarly communication, and those US university presses that have been reluctant to engage with OA may feel obliged to do so or risk losing UK authors….”
“37. Evidence gathered through a recent survey on open access (OA) shows that, for over 80 per cent of outputs in the scope of the policy, either the outputs met the REF policy requirements in the first year (1 April 2016 to 1 April 2017), or an exception to the policy requirement is known to have applied. This reflects significant progress toward the policy intent to increase substantially the proportion of research that is made available open access in the UK.
38. The funding bodies have carefully considered the evidence gathered in the survey relating to the policy’s deposit requirements. We wish to continue building on the progress achieved to date and to maintain the momentum towards developing new tools to implement deposit as soon after the point of acceptance as possible. We therefore confirm the implementation of the REF OA policy as previously set out. The policy will require outputs to be deposited as soon after the point of acceptance as possible, and no later than three months after this date (as given in the acceptance letter or email from the publication to the author) from 1 April 2018.
39. Taking account of some of the practical concerns raised through the survey in relation to deposit on acceptance, we will introduce a deposit exception in to the policy from 1 April 2018. This exception will allow outputs unable to meet this deposit timescale, to remain compliant if they are deposited up to three months after the date of publication. The exception will read: ‘The output was not deposited within three months of acceptance date, but was deposited within three months of the earliest date of publication.’ This exception will remain in place for the rest of the REF 2021 publication period.
40. Further detail on the evidence assessed to make this decision is based at Annex B. The REF OA policy has been updated to include the additional exception. A full report of the UKwide survey on the delivery of funders’ open access policies will be published early in 2018….”
“The rules for the next Research Excellence Framework were supposed to be done and dusted a long time ago. Instead, we are looking at yet another consultation exercise covering institutional eligibility, staff submission, and the hotly contested question of output portability. These are questions that HEFCE and the other UK funding councils have been very publically wrestling with since the publication of the Stern Review of Research Funding.”
“A similar model, introduced successfully at Harvard University in 2008 and adopted by many US institutions (such as MIT), inspired the UK-SCL. Under the UK-SCL each member of staff grants the university a non-exclusive, irrevocable, worldwide licence to make the accepted final version of their scholarly articles publicly available under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial (CC BY NC) licence. Under this licence, non-commercial reuse is permitted, as long as the author is credited. The university can sublicense these rights to all authors of the paper and their host institutions. The university will make metadata available publicly upon deposit and the manuscript within 12 months of acceptance or immediately upon publication, whichever is earlier. On request the university will usually (but does not have to) grant a waiver to these rights for up to 2 years from publication. [The exact embargo length and length of waiver are still under discussion] Imperial College London is leading the implementation of the UK-SCL. Discussions involve over 70 organisations in the UK including several Russell Group institutions. There has also been extensive consultation with the Russell Group Policy office, HEFCE, Jisc, the Wellcome Trust and a number of international organisation….”
“Researchers at UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are now subject to HEFCE’s open access policy if they want to submit their work to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2021. The policy applies to journal articles and conference proceedings accepted for publication after 1 April 2016. These research outputs must be deposited in an institutional or subject repository as soon as possible after the point of acceptance. For the first two years of the policy there is flexibility to deposit up to three months after the date of early online publication. After April 2018, it is anticipated that the policy terms will become stricter and deposit must occur within three months of acceptance….The financial costs associated with supporting compliance with the policy are high. Many HEIs initially relied heavily on their Research Councils UK funding to meet staffing costs. Over time, institutions have taken on staff costs to ensure the longevity of their open access teams, and some have even been in a position to create institutional funds for gold open access. At a time when increasing subscription costs are regularly imposed by publishers it can be difficult for institutions to find the means to support open access, despite its obvious importance. The cultural challenges associated with the HEFCE policy can prove to be even more difficult to overcome….After three years of promotion and engagement with researchers through school board meetings, research support meetings, training sessions and online support materials, attitudes have gradually shifted towards support for open access. Following a review of 2016, we discovered that 93% of the papers in our repository that are subject to HEFCE’s policy are REF eligible. This positive trend has continued into 2017 with many more papers being deposited on a daily basis….”
“In total there’s a 55% Green OA/45% Gold OA split, and given that Green OA represents more inconvenience than most of our academic colleagues unfamiliar with arXiv have ever been willing to tolerate, it is very unlikely indeed that the University would have achieved such high compliance had the Library not provided a mediated Green OA deposit service. The data confirms our approach helped make Green Open Access an organisational habit practically overnight.
The approach has come at a cost however; over the past year, supporting the HEFCE OA policy has taken up the majority of the team’s bandwidth with most of our 9am-5pm conversations being in some way related to a paper’s compliance with one or more funder OA policy.
Now that our current processes have bedded in, and in anticipation of the launch of the new UK Scholarly Communications License (UK-SCL) – for more on this read Chris Banks’s article or watch her UKSG presentation – and further developments from Jisc, we hope that over the next 12 months we can tilt the balance away from this reductionist approach to our scholarly output and focus on other elements of the scholarly communication ecosystem. For example, we are already in discussions with Altmetric about incorporating their tools into our OA workflows to help our academics build connections with audiences and are keen to roll this out soon – from early conversations with academics we think this is something they’re really going to like.”
“One of the aspects of the Stern review that has attracted the most attention from my Twitter stream is the non-portability of research outputs. What this means is that institutions cannot poach staff from elsewhere and use their outputs to return to REF.
Now, there’s a problem with Stern at the moment in that he doesn’t say what will happen with ECR/Ph.D. student outputs when they move to their first post with a research element. I’m sure that HEFCE will fix this, though, in implementation. Taking that into account, I think this is a very positive step. Why? …”