The RCUK, the organisation comprising all seven UK research funding councils, has just released its new Open Access policy. From 1st April 2013, all
peer reviewed research papers which result from research that is wholly or partially funded by the Research Councils:
- must be published in journals which are compliant with Research Council policy on Open Access, and;
- must include details of the funding that supported the research, and a statement on how the underlying research materials such as data, samples or models can be accessed.
To be compliant, articles will have to be released under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC-BY) either through “Gold” open access (the author pays an “article processing charge” to make article free to download for all end users), or “Green” open access (the author has the right to deposit a post-peer-review version of the article in an institutional repository) after a certain “embargo period.”
To make the new regime work, the RCUK
will provide block grants to eligible UK Higher Education Institutions … to support payment of the Article Processing Charges (APCs) associated with ‘pay-to-publish’. In parallel, eligible organisations will be expected to set-up and manage their own publication funds.
Universities will therefore have to apply for money to set up their publication funds, since
Research grant applications will, therefore, no longer include provision for Open Access publication or other publication charges (see the RCUK Guidance document).
Journals that do not have a “pay to publish” option will have to allow authors to deposit their articles in open-access institutional repositories after a maximum “embargo” period of 6 months. This period is to be raised to 12 months for research funded by the AHRC or the ESRC, who deem that a six-month embargo period would be “particularly difficult” in these disciplines. The RCUK emphasise that this provision is to remain valid for a five-year period only, after which the embargo period will be set at 6 months for all disciplines.
While the RCUK mandate enshrines the principle that publicly-funded research, its data as well as outputs, should be publicly available, there are still important questions for the Arts and Humanities left unanswered. Will universities prioritise the Sciences when allocating publishing funds? What will happen to the very valuable Humanities research conducted without direct public funding? Moreover, the RCUK policy only applies to journal articles, not to monographs, which are a very significant part of Humanities publishing.
For my personal observations on the RCUK mandate, you can read my personal blog post on this topic.