Key recommendations for practical implementation of the HEFCE OA policy and where is more support required
In September, Jisc in association with ARMA, RLUK and SCONUL convened a workshop to explore the HEFCE’s OA policy for REF and its implications for universities.
HEFCE open access policy mandates that peer-reviewed manuscripts must be deposited in an institutional or subject repository immediately on acceptance for publication to be eligible for the next REF. This policy presents a number of implementation challenges for universities by introducing a new point of intervention – the point of acceptance. These new requirements will necessitate new patterns of working and changes to workflows and processes in order to accommodate the policy.
The workshop aimed to consider how the policy can be best implemented by universities, as well as offering an opportunity for information sharing and wider discussion. Given the 60 attendees from mixed professional backgrounds (librarians, research and repository managers etc.) from universities across the UK, there were no shortage of perspectives!
As the workshop covered such a wide range of topics, this blog post will focus primarily on participant feedback from the discussions and the resulting recommendations in terms of what support is required. Presentation slides below.
(It should be noted that the views expressed below are those of participants, rather than those of ARMA/ Jisc/ RLUK/ SCONUL.)
Key discussion points
- Need to establish who has overall responsibility for OA within your institution. Is this the library, the research office or individual researchers? Generally, a means of sharing ownership across the institution is considered best to ensure full engagement from all stakeholders throughout the research lifecycle and may also potentially spread the risk. Strategic intervention at a senior level is necessary to enable this.
- Depending on allocation of responsibility in the process, setting-up a central, single point of contact via a generic email address is useful e.g firstname.lastname@example.org. This is helpful not only to field institutional queries, but to be a central contact point with publishers too.
- It is good idea to undertake some ‘dry-runs’ to test your compliance
- Depending on how advocacy to researchers is undertaken and whose responsibility this is, simple, light-weight messages to researchers are key i.e. when was the article accepted and is it in the repository?
- Sharing ‘good news’ of when the process has worked well is an essential advocacy tool.
- Needs to be a shift away from the notion that REF is just a periodic exercise and towards a recognition that the implications for universities will be ongoing.
Professional Performance Reviews
- Embedding policy into performance reviews of institutional staff (including those of researchers) might be a good way of embedding compliance. REF inclusion is an excellent driver also, but this will raise the necessity for research staff to engage. This is not easily ensured however, and is a radical sea-change for staff which will require the acceptance from staff and unions.
- There needs to be a solution to reducing the duplications of effort on outputs that are co-authored.
- There is also an issue around international efforts when only one author is likely to be included in REF.
- The need for collaboration between institutions to share what works and what doesn’t work to avoid duplication of effort. Some larger institutions are ‘ahead of the game’ in this regard- can they share how they did it.
- Multi-institution publications where one institution might make a paper OA and where another may invoke an exception, is an issue that needs to be addressed.
Links with Publishers
- The key is to receive information from publishers as early on in the process as possible and for their OA policies to be clearer in terms of standardised terminology and definitions
- Is there a way to get a package of DOI and basic metadata on acceptance, ideally with some information on embargo periods if appropriate, in an electronic package?
- Embargo periods need to be reduced, given the potential effects on citation.
- Depending on allocation of responsibility within the institution, it is necessary to be mindful of the long term relationships that some academics have with publishers.
- Support publications management in terms of recording/ notifying who’s published what and when (date of acceptance)
- Facilitate early issue of the article’s DOI
- Provide clarity on what IDs are being used and where possible advocate standardisation e.g. Orcid
- Enable SHERPA services to be more researcher-friendly i.e. most librarians are familiar with FACT/ ROMEO but most academics are not
- Provide technical support to smaller institutions especially re: interoperability with CORE
Centralised Negotiations with publishers
- Work with publishers to standardise OA policies in terms of terminology/ definitions
- Negotiate on aspects of OA implementation, not just on cost of APCs e.g. the length of embargo periods.
- Publicise metadata and audit spec for the REF policy asap so systems can be developed