“This statement articulates UK Research and Innovation’s high level policy and common principles around Open Access. These principles reaffirm the open access policies of the REF and the research councils, and will inform the development of UKRI’s policy for Open Access, the UKRI Open Access review and wider UKRI policy development in open research….”
As preparations for the 2021 research excellence framework continue apace, UK-based academics could be forgiven for pushing the 2027 assessment to the back of their minds for now.
However, one specific element of the plans for the REF after next has been triggering lively debate in recent weeks: the proposed extension of open-access requirements for submitted outputs to include long-form scholarly works and monographs.
“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 recent ‘Consultation on the second Research Excellence Framework’ (REF) in the UK contains an annex that signals the extension of the open access mandate to monographs. In the service of promoting discussion, rather than prescribing a forward route, this article estimates the costs of implementing such a mandate based on REF 2014 volume, taking the criteria signalled in the annex, and identifies funding sources that could support it. We estimate that to publish 75% of anticipated monographic submission output for the next REF would require approximately £96m investment over the census period. This is equivalent to £19.2m per year. Academic library budgets as they are currently apportioned would not support this cost. However, these sums are but a fraction of the total quality-related funding, Arts and Humanities Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council budgets. We close with a series of provocative suggestions for how the mandate could be implemented.
“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.”
“The Third Research Excellence Framework, scheduled for the mid-2020s, now has a mandate for open access books. Despite calls from the digitally enlightened, however, most humanities long-form writing remains very much ensconced within the traditions and economics (both symbolic and financial) of the printed book. In this talk, I will discuss the challenges of a migration from conventional books to an open access model and the range of approaches that are currently being taken.
In the age of data mining, distant reading, and cultural analytics, scholars increasingly rely upon automated, algorithm-based procedures in order to parse the exponentially growing databases of digitized textual and visual resources. While these new trends are dramatically shifting the scale of our objects of study, from one book to millions of books, from one painting to millions of images, the most traditional output of humanistic scholarship—the single author monograph—has maintained its institutional pre-eminence in the academic world, while showing the limitations of its printed format. Recent initiatives, such as the AHRC-funded Academic Book of the Future in the UK and the Andrew W. Mellon-funded digital publishing initiative in the USA, have answered the need to envision new forms of scholarly publication on the digital platform, and in particular the need to design and produce a digital equivalent to, or substitute for, the printed monograph. Libraries, academic presses and a number of scholars across a variety of disciplines are participating in this endeavour, debating key questions in the process, such as: What is an academic book? Who are its readers? What can technology do to help make academic books more accessible and sharable without compromising their integrity and durability? Yet, a more fundamental question remains to be answered, as our own idea of what a ‘book’ is (or was) and does (or did) evolves: how can a digital, ‘single-author’ monograph effectively draw from the growing field of digital culture, without losing those characteristics that made it perhaps the most stable form of humanistic culture since the Gutenberg revolution? Our speakers will debate some of these questions and provide their points of view on some of the specific issues involved. After their short presentations, all participants are invited to bring their own ideas about, and experience with, digital publishing to the table.”
“This document sets out the proposals of the four UK higher education funding bodies for the second Research Excellence Framework (REF) for the assessment of research in UK higher education institutions. The proposals seek to build on the first REF conducted in 2014, and to incorporate the principles identified in Lord Stern’s Independent Review of the REF….”
For open access, see especially paragraphs 55, 68, 69, 116, 117, and all of Annex C (on OA monographs).
“This guide has been produced to assist arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS) researchers in understanding the state of play with regards to open access in the UK and what it means to them as current and future authors of scholarly monographs. A series of questions commonly asked by researchers or of relevance to researchers are presented with answers. The questions have been drawn primarily from over 250 individual responses by researchers, learned societies, university departments and publishers to the recent Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) (www.hefce.ac.uk) consultation on open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework, which included the following statement: “In view of our expectation that open access publication for monographs and books is likely to be achievable in the long term, we would like to make clear our intention to extend the requirement to these output types in the future, but not in the period being addressed by this consultation”. …”