UK Research Councils (RCUK) Announce New Open Access Policy

In the wake of the Finch Report on the 16th July 2012 the RCUK has finally unveiled their revised Open Access policy, which brings with it a harmonization across the councils as well as introducing significant changes.  The policy will apply to all qualifying publications funded entirely or in part by a RCUK source from 1st April 2013. While the policy could be read as a further endorsement of the UK’s move to Gold Open Access, it is notable that repositories have at least some reasons to be cheerful within it.

The policy requires that peer-reviewed research papers can only be published in journals that are compliant with the RCUK Open Access policy.  Furthermore the papers must also include details on the funding that supported the research as well as information on how and where to access the data, samples or models that support the findings.  The RCUK along with HEFCE and other funding bodies will actively monitor compliance with this new policy.

Open Access, as defined by the policy, means an unrestricted online access to peer review and scholarly research papers.  Potential readers of the papers should be able, free of any publisher-imposed charge, read the publications online and to search and reuse content manually; as well as through the use of automated text/data mining tools.  Given the recent discussions on permitting or excluding text mining functions under copyright restrictions, this is perhaps a notable addition to the policy.

Journal titles can comply through (1) offering a pay to publish route funded through author publication contributions (APCs), or (2) by allowing deposit in a subject or institutional repository like LRA after the maximum permissible embargo period.  In the event that option (1) is not applicable then no APC will be payable to the publisher.  Where an APC is required by a journal publisher, the resultant work is required by the RCUK to be shared under a Creative Commons By Attribution (CC-BY) licence, allowing for others to build upon the work provided the original authors are credited in the subsequent outputs.  To help facilitate the payments for APCs the RCUK will provide block grants to institutions, who will themselves be expected to set up and manage their own publication funds.  Previously these have been included as direct and /or indirect costs of grant funding, but this will be discontinued.

In terms of a delay (embargo) to the research publications being available through open access the RCUK policy states that they “will accept a delay of no more than six months between on-line publication and a research paper becoming Open Access, except in the case of research papers arising from research funded by the AHRC and the ESRC where the maximum embargo period is 12 months.”  It will be interesting to see the reactions from those publishers whose embargo periods are very much in excess of this.

It should be noted that some research councils (MRC and ESRC) have a requirement that papers must be deposited in specific repositories.  See SHERPA/JULIET for more on complying with the specifics of individual Research Councils’ policies, although I suspect some of these will be updated in the coming days.

Further RCUK guidance on complying with the policy is also available.

As always UKCoRR welcomes input from the membership on the reactions and responses to this announcement; both individually or at an institutional level – either on the list or here as comments.

1 thought on “UK Research Councils (RCUK) Announce New Open Access Policy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top