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This observation was written by Caroline Winter, with thanks to Claire Warwick for her feedback and contributions.

At a glance:

Title URKI Open Access Review: Consultation
Creator UKRI
Publication Date February 13, 2020
Keywords Open access, scholarly communication, Plan S

In February 2020, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) released a new proposed open access policy for consultation to replace the RCUK Policy on Open Access released in 2018.

The goals of the proposed policy include promoting open access (OA) and new OA publishing models and aligning OA polices across the UKRI, which comprises the UK’s seven Research Councils, Innovate UK, and Research England (UKRI 2020).

Key points of the proposed policy are as follows:

  • The policy will apply to all UKRI-funded published research outputs, including publications in journals (articles, conference papers in proceedings, reviews), and as books.
  • In-scope journal publications accepted for publication on or following January 1, 2022, must be open access upon publication (version of record or preprint) and licenced as CC BY.
  • In-scope monographs, book chapters, and edited collections published on or following January 1, 2024, must be open access within 12 months of publication (version of record or preprint) and licenced as CC BY (preferred) or CC BY-ND.

The Policy also includes provisions for copyright and rights retention, licensing, and specific technical standards relating to persistent digital object identifiers, metadata standards, and preservation.

The consultation process is open, with feedback invited from any interested individual or organization, within or outside the UK. The consultation period ends in May, and UKRI will release a summary of the feedback with the final policy, which it expects to publish later in the year.

The Proposed UKRI OA Policy and the INKE Partnership

Although the UKRI OA policy primarily affects INKE community members in the UK, it will likely apply to any research funded in whole or part by the UKRI, including work done through international collaboration (RCUK 2019).

Martin Paul Eve has shared notes about the proposed policy as well as his draft response to the call for feedback from his perspective as a researcher and as the CEO of the Open Library of Humanities. Eve supports the proposed policy overall but calls for more specificity in several points, greater alignment with Plan S by including CC BY-SA and CC0 licences as alternatives to CC BY, and for copyright to remain with the author or their institution, rather than with publishers (Eve 2020).

The Proposed Policy in the Media

Reactions to the proposed policy within the UK research community has been positive overall (Research Information 2020). Numerous universities in the UK have published notices and statements about the policy review, including Oxford University and University College London. The University of Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh are seeking input from their communities in order to prepare institutional responses.

Articles by Jack Grove in Times Higher Education highlight the effect of the proposed policy on OA books, an issue that particularly affects the Humanities and Social Sciences. The first points out that institutions will likely not be able to cover the five-digit high fees that publishers charge for publishing OA monographs, noting that the UKRI acknowledges this challenge and welcomes discussion about how the policy can be implemented successfully (Grove 2020a). The second voices concerns about the policy’s potential to limit opportunities for emerging Humanities scholars who lack funds for publishing their first monographs as OA, noting the detrimental effect on their careers (Grove 2020c). As Eve highlights in his notes, though, trade books, scholarly editions, exhibition catalogues, textbooks, and creative writings are all outside of the policy’s scope (Eve 2020).

Another article by Grove in THE notes that the CC-BY licence required by the proposed policy is of particular concern to Humanities scholars, since the ways facts and ideas are expressed are an integral part of their work. The CC-BY license would make their work vulnerable to being reused and exploited or misrepresented (Grove 2020b).

The Proposed Policy and Open Scholarship

UKRI’s proposed policy recognizes OA as part of a larger research ecosystem, and notes that some forms of open scholarship—specifically, open data—are beyond its scope.

The proposed policy notes that the successful implementation of OA is a global effort requiring international cooperation. UKRI is a member of cOAlition S, and emphasizes alignment with Plan S (see “Plan S and cOAlition S”). It also notes that, in order to ensure consistency across UK OA policies, feedback from this consultation will inform the OA policy for the second Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise (REF-after-REF 2021), to be carried out after the REF 2021 exercise is complete.

Works Cited

Eve, Martin Paul. 2020a. “My Draft Response to the UKRI OA Consultation.” 27 February 2020.

Grove, Jack. 2020a. “Humanities Scholars Warn Over UKRI’s Plan for Open-Access Books.” 17 February 2020.

Grove, Jack. 2020b. “Licence to ‘Remix’ Research Alarms Humanities Scholars.” 20 March 2020.

Grove, Jack. 2020c. “UKRI Wants Monographs to be Open Access by 2024.” Times Higher Education. 13 February 2020.

RCUK (Research Councils UK). 2019. RCUK Policy on Open Access Frequently Asked Questions. 1 May 2019.

Research Information. “Reactions to UKRI Consultation Announcement.” 14 February 2020.

UKRI (UK Research and Innovation). 2020. UKRI Open Access Review: Consultation. 13 February 2020.