Pathfinder Realignment


Over recent months, the Pathfinder projects have been considering how they keep pace with the rapidly evolving OA landscape, in order to remain responsive and continue to offer the most value possible to their own institutions and the sector more widely. To support this, each project undertook a ‘Gateway Review’ to decide on the future direction of their work.

Whilst the majority of projects felt that they were deriving deep and sustainable benefits from developing models of good practice in OA implementation, the Manchester opeNWorks (partnered by Liverpool, John Moores, Salford, Edge Hill) and UCL Pathways to OA (partnered by Nottingham and Newcastle) Pathfinders felt that they would offer more value to their own institutions and the wider sector through focusing on specific challenges and developing solutions that would allow them to keep pace with policy changes and urgency they present.

Identifying Challenges

In order to identify the challenges that would be best tackled by the UCL and Manchester projects, the Pathfinder realignment tapped into the recent review of progress towards implementation OA policy for REF and the feedback from the six institutional workshops, completed with the support of the Jisc Open Access Good Practice Pathfinder projects. These challenges were then considered against a set of criteria to help us to prioritise:

  • Value to own HEI/ wider sector
  • Deliverable within Pathfinder project timeframe/ resources
  • Potential to deliver a full or partial solution
  • Not being addressed by Jisc or another Pathfinder


Having judged each challenge against these criteria, Manchester and UCL decided to focus on the following areas:

Manchester (opeNWorks):

  • Approaches to deposit– Institutions are taking a range of approaches to deposit, with varying roles for researchers, library staff and departmental administrators. At present there is no clear evidence of the relative costs and benefits of each approach. A summary of the pros and cons of each approach, based on actual pilots completed in different departments, would be extremely valuable to other institutions trying to determine the most appropriate deposit workflow.
  • Benchmarking of institutional OA support services: Many institutions are seeking to increase resource in order to meet the requirements of the RCUK and REF policies, but lack access to benchmarking data in this area. Institutions would therefore value benchmarked data on levels of resource to support OA, both in terms of FTEs and costs, but also the skill-sets, backgrounds and responsibilities of staff members, and the use of permanent, fixed-term and temporary staff.

UCL (Pathways to OA):

  • Exploration of the proportion of outputs treated as REF exceptions: Institutions are very unsure what would be a ‘reasonable’ or ‘acceptable’ number of exceptions for the REF, and concerned at the work that might be involved in evidencing these. Development and sharing of a representative sample of publications, identifying what % fall into each type of exception, would give institutions and HEFCE a better understanding of how many exceptions should be expected
  • REF OA policy and the use of subject repositories: Deposit in subject repositories is permitted under REF OA policy, but institutions are unsure how they could monitor this, and which subject repositories would comply with the HEFCE criteria. Could offer significant scope to reduce administrative burden on authors if deposit in subject repositories can be effectively tracked and monitored.
  • Payment of APCs on multi-author/multi-institution papers: RCUK review has recommended that RCUK revisits its guidance on this point in dialogue with the sector and a Pathfinder project would be well placed to take this forward. UCL would be keen to invite involvement from other institutions around this.

UCL also plans to look into the Springer off-setting deal in terms of how it affects issues of APC management as part of the ‘big deal’.

Next Steps

  • Both projects now need time to discuss with project teams and refine their workplans over the summer, but we plan to make more detailed announcements once this has been done.
  • The projects are keen to stress that they will build on work done in these areas already and would be keen to engage with others as much as possible.

Please do contact Sarah Fahmy ( if you have any queries/ comments or wish to contribute to the work in some way.


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