News

RCUK 'learns lessons' from HoL criticism

Research Councils UK has said it has "learned lessons" after being accused of an "unacceptable" lack of clarity by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.

The Committee held an inquiry into RCUK's open access policy following complaints from publishers, academics and learned societies.

The RCUK had initially said the date of compliance for its new open access policy applied to all RCUK-funded research submitted for publication by 1st April. However Professor Douglas Kell, RCUK information champion, later contradicted this, telling the inquiry that there was in fact a five-year implementation phase.

The Committee's report said the confusion caused by this was "unacceptable", particularly given the nearness of the start date, and RCUK was told to clarify its guidance.

The Committee also said RCUK must hold a review of the effects of the policy in autumn 2014, examining whether different disciplines require different embargo periods, licences and primary models of publication. It should also examine whether the UK is moving in the same direction as other countries, whether article processing charges have adversely affected the number of international articles published in UK journals, and the effects
on the quality of peer review. The review must also assess the policy's impact on the number of collaborations by UK researchers and its effects on learned societies, said the Committee.

In addition, the report said: "The government should conduct a full cost-benefit analysis of the policy, in view of their stated preference for gold open access and..(it) should review the effectiveness of RCUK's consultation regarding this significant change in policy." It went on: "We commend RCUK's commitment to monitor international developments in open access—for example, whether gold is adopted by other countries—and willingness to amend its strategy accordingly. The government must co-ordinate with other countries on open access policies."

In response, RCUK said it welcomed the recommendations and would consider them carefully. "We acknowledge that communication and engagement around the policy, including its development, has been challenging despite trying to respond to the need to engage early on with a broad range of stakeholders," it said. "Lessons have been learned and we will continue to actively engage with the academic and publishing sectors as well as learned societies and other international stakeholders throughout the implementation period and beyond. This will allow us to address any immediate concerns as well as to
keep a watching brief on the implementation process."

It added that revised guidance taking into account the report's advice would be published soon.

Meanwhile Publishers Association chief executive Richard Mollet said the PA warmly welcomed the Committee's recommendation for clarification and looked forward to "closer engagement" with RCUK. 

Comments: Scroll down for the latest comments and to have your say

By posting on this website you agree to the Bookseller comments policy. Comments go direct to live please be relevant, brief and definitely not abusive. Report any "unsuitable comments by clicking the links"

THE REVISED RCUK OPEN ACCESS MANDATE

The revised RCUK OA mandate has some positive (+) and negative (-) points:

(+1) It is now clear that the RCUK author is free to choose either Green or Gold (despite RCUK's preference for Gold). 

(-2) No Green compliance-monitoring nor consequences for non-compliance (only Gold-uptake-monitoring).  

(-3) Deposit need not be immediate (can wait till end of OA embargo).

(-4) Deposit need not be in institutional repository (hence institutions not engaged to monitor and ensure compliance).

(-5) Deposit can be done by publisher instead of author (hence compliance monitoring even more uncertain).

(+6) The proposed HEFCE/REF mandate making immediate-deposit -- in the author's institutional repository immediately upon acceptance by the journal -- a requirement for eligibility for REF will, if adopted, help remedy the RCUK mandate's shortcomings on compliance monitoring and verification.

HEFCE/REF is urged to adopt its proposed mandate

RCUK is urged to further revise its mandate to make it compatible with the proposed HEFCE/REF mandate: require immediate-deposit

of the author's refereed final draft

in the author's institutional repository

immediately upon acceptance for publication

regardless of whether or how long open access to the deposit is embargoed

and regardless of whether the journal is Gold OA or subscription-based

(institutional deposits can be automatically harvested/imported/exported to central repositories)

(repositories' request-copy Button can facilitate Almost-OA during embargoes)Universities and research institutions as well as other research funders are also urged to adopt or modify OA mandates to require verifiable immediate-deposit of all journal article output, in all disciplines.

Once this complementary funder/institutional Green OA mandate model is globally adopted, universal OA will soon follow.

THE REVISED RCUK OPEN ACCESS MANDATE

The revised RCUK OA mandate has some positive (+) and negative (-) points:

(+1) It is now clear that the RCUK author is free to choose either Green or Gold (despite RCUK's preference for Gold). 

(-2) No Green compliance-monitoring nor consequences for non-compliance (only Gold-uptake-monitoring).  

(-3) Deposit need not be immediate (can wait till end of OA embargo).

(-4) Deposit need not be in institutional repository (hence institutions not engaged to monitor and ensure compliance).

(-5) Deposit can be done by publisher instead of author (hence compliance monitoring even more uncertain).

(+6) The proposed HEFCE/REF mandate making immediate-deposit -- in the author's institutional repository immediately upon acceptance by the journal -- a requirement for eligibility for REF will, if adopted, help remedy the RCUK mandate's shortcomings on compliance monitoring and verification.

HEFCE/REF is urged to adopt its proposed mandate

RCUK is urged to further revise its mandate to make it compatible with the proposed HEFCE/REF mandate: require immediate-deposit

of the author's refereed final draft

in the author's institutional repository

immediately upon acceptance for publication

regardless of whether or how long open access to the deposit is embargoed

and regardless of whether the journal is Gold OA or subscription-based

(institutional deposits can be automatically harvested/imported/exported to central repositories)

(repositories' request-copy Button can facilitate Almost-OA during embargoes)Universities and research institutions as well as other research funders are also urged to adopt or modify OA mandates to require verifiable immediate-deposit of all journal article output, in all disciplines.

Once this complementary funder/institutional Green OA mandate model is globally adopted, universal OA will soon follow.