HEFCE Open Access Policy: one year on – how is it working?

It’s been one year since the HEFCE Open Access Policy for the next REF came into force. In a nutshell the policy requires all journal articles and published conference items (with an ISSN) to be deposited in a repository within 3 months of publication (probably acceptance from April 2018) with the Author’s Accepted Manuscript.  So how is it working?

What is working?

How compliant are we? That’s normally the first question… and there are 2 answers. Firstly, of the eligible outputs added to ORO we reckon that compliance is around 84% – this includes items published Gold Open Access.  It doesn’t include outputs that may be compliant in another institutional repository or a subject repository.  However, we estimate only around 60% of OU affiliated research outputs get added to ORO so there is a significant number of outputs that still aren’t going into ORO.  And, if they aren’t reaching ORO we aren’t in a position to see if they are meeting the HEFCE policy.

Are we getting more Open Access items?  From April to March 2016-17 we received 737 Author Accepted Manuscripts that’s compared to 595 deposited in the previous year. Given that deposits of journal articles and conference proceedings are slightly down year on year (1767 in 2016-17 compared to 1873 in 2015-16) that’s some healthy growth in accession of Green Open Access content.

How can we do better? Is often the follow up question.  Firstly, getting better coverage in ORO is one answer and we need to be exploring automated ways of populating ORO to know what the institution is publishing.  Once we have the data we can then go about trying to get the full text, or identifying compliance elsewhere.  Secondly, we need to continue to get the message across about the policy, some researchers remain unclear about the requirements. We need to be creative on both counts.

What’s not working?

Well, there are a few problems for me.  To be fair, some of them are the challenges of Green Open Access, not the policy itself.

“I can’t get the AAM” – We have engaged researchers trying to do Open Access the Green route who are struggling to meet the policy.  Researchers collaborating overseas who aren’t the corresponding author have real issues obtaining the Author Accepted Manuscript from the corresponding author.  We have to remember that the corresponding author may have no knowledge of the UK context and may find the self-archiving process totally alien. Obtaining the full text at all, let alone within 3 months of publication, is a challenge.

“It’s not enough time” – The proposed move to deposit from 3 months from acceptance rather than publication poses a massive challenge for us.  We have been transparent to our researchers and asked for deposit 3 months from publication, not 3 months from acceptance.  And our compliance levels indicate that we are being successful.  However, we should remember the policy is requiring a significant change in behaviour for some researchers not used to the complexities of Green Open Access.  Moving the time frame to 3 months from acceptance would mean our compliance rates would drop.

“Is it really not eligible?” What about those items that haven’t met the policy requirements… are they seriously not eligible for the REF?  Is HEFCE expecting 100% compliance.  I doubt it, but I don’t know.  What I’m expecting are some kind compliance levels to be announced not dissimilar to the RCUK compliance levels introduced when their Open Access Policy was introduced (e.g. in Year 1 45% should be Open Access, in Year 2 53%, Year 3 60%, Year 4 67% and Year 5 75%).  But understandably HEFCE won’t announce that because it might impact on the levels currently being attained – we might take our foot off the pedal.

One danger of this is that we start second guessing the audit HEFCE might undertake. In a light touch audit the home institution may be the only people who know whether something met the 3 month deposit criteria.  So what interest does that institution have to disallow that output from its own REF return?

“It’s not Open Access is it!” –  When we do manage to get Author Accepted Manuscripts and deposit them to the repository, then we look up the embargo periods to see how long we have to lock them down for and we have embargo periods of 18 to 24 months… that’s not Open Access is it? Sometimes, it’s hard not to conclude that it’s more a Repository Deposit Policy than an Open Access Policy.

So, in conclusion, we are getting an increase in Open Access papers available at the OU, which is great, but it’s not without headaches, and a lot of hard work from everyone involved!

Posted in Library research support, Open Access, ORO, REF | Leave a comment

Survey – Describing the Research Process

To help create better resources to support researchers with data management, UC3 (University of California Curation Center) is conducting an informal survey to understand how researchers describe the research process and the stages of their work.

In UC3’s words, “If you are a researcher and can spare about 5 minutes, we would greatly appreciate it if you would click the link below to participate in our survey.

Go straight to the survey or read the blog.

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Planned essential maintenance – 8/9 April 2017

The Open University is carrying out some essential works on our network on Saturday 8 April from 11pm until 11am on Sunday 9 April (BST).

During this time, OU services and systems will be ‘At Risk’ and may be unavailable. This will include the main Library website. Please assume that you will not be able to access any online library resources (such as journals, ebooks and databases) during this time.

We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause, but the work we are carrying out will improve the robustness and reliability of our systems in the longer term.


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Prior publication and repository deposit

We’ve had a couple of instances recently where unpublished conference items deposited in ORO were subsequently submitted to a journal (both Springer journals) only to be rejected due to “textual overlap” with the item in ORO.  This “textual overlap” was detected by automatic plagiarism software (like ithenticate) which contains an index of both published works and web pages.  Authors should be aware that submitted papers will quite likely be checked by anti-plagiarism software – and clearly content from institutional repositories (at least ORO!) is indexed by them.

The publisher’s rationale is that making the full text freely available in ORO constitutes prior publication and therefore the submission was rejected.  However this is not consistent.  One of our OU authors stated We get mixed signals from journals as there are some who don’t have a problem with the article being on ORO”. And in this instance once the item was taken down from ORO the paper was successfully re-submitted.

We don’t want anyone’s publication career to be jeopardized by depositing papers in ORO so we’ve added an FAQ to our help pages – if you are considering submitting something to a journal don’t put the full text of it in ORO until the publication venue has been secured.

However, it’s worth exploring this in a little more depth.  First, let’s get a couple of definitions – both from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) website.

  • Self-plagiarism’/text recycling (submitted article) – Reusing one’s own previous writing without being transparent about this or appropriately referencing/quoting from the original.
  • Prior publication – Where a journal considers posting of data or a preprint before submission as ‘publication’, and which will therefore exclude those items from subsequent submission to the journal. Grey and rapidly changing area, varies greatly from journal to journal.

So in our case it seems the journal considers that deposit in ORO constitutes prior publication and that this is a (g)rey and rapidly changing area, varies greatly from journal to journal”.

So is deposit in ORO publication?  Well yes in a way,  we are making something publicly available. However, there are key publishing functions institutional repositories do not undertake: we don’t do editorial selection, we don’t manage peer review, we don’t copy edit or type set, we don’t print, we don’t do marketing… we barely do any of the 96 things publishers do!

Moreover, the whole concept and existence of preprints (where papers are made public to “quickly circulate current results within a scholarly community“)  seems to run counter to this interpretation of “prior publication”.  In many disciplines ‘publishing’ a preprint on a preprint server (or subject repository) and final publication in a journals is the modus operandi.  So, I’d question whether deposit in an institutional repository really does constitute prior publication.

However, reluctantly, I’ve put up our FAQ

Other useful reading:

Possible self-plagiarism and/or prior publication, The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).  This case was similar to our one but indicates initial posting was done on an individual website not an institutional repository.

Plagiarism detection by Publishers, Imperial College Library

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New Library Research Support website

We’re pleased to announce that we have recently launched a new website for Library Research Support services. lrs2

This new site covers information on:

  • Research Data Management
  • Open Access publishing
  • Researcher visibility
  • Bibliometrics
  • ORO
  • ORDO

You can access the new website at: http://www.open.ac.uk/library-research-support/

If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it, either comment below or send us an email.

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The Law on TDM in Europe: an introduction – Free Webinar

UKSG are offering a free webinar on The Law of Text and Data Mining in Europe.

“The aim of the webinar is to introduce the audience, in particular non-lawyers, to the legal framework of text and data mining, focusing on the main aspects of the law at the European level.”  Speakers are Guilia Dore and Nancy Pontika.

The webinar is on Tuesday 21st March and registration also provides access to the recording of the session.


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Getting the most out of the UK Data Service


The UK Data Service holds the UK’s largest collection of research data. It’s also an extremely useful source of information about how to use data in your research.

To help researchers get the most out of the service they run a series of free webinars on what the service is and how to use it, training on topics like data management and data reuse, and introductions to some of their key data sets.

See the full list of webinars with links to registration. You’ll also find recordings of past webinars which will be added to, so if you can attend live you can always catch up later.

The webinars and resources are available to everyone, but could be of particular interest if you are funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). ESRC funds the UK Data Service and provides detailed guidance on data management planning for ESRC researchers.


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Linking ORO to ORCID

This week Alan Stiles (ORO Developer) and I ran a workshop on ORCID with particular attention to linking individual ORO (the OU’s Institutional Repository) accounts to existing or new ORCID accounts. orcid hub The development work has gone on for some time and isn’t complete due to other emerging priorities – but we are currently able to link accounts so that all publications listed in ORO can be pushed to ORCID when individual researchers grant ORO permissions to do this.  I was a bit tentative about doing this and we had a few issues! However, this was countered by a few “wows” in the room when all the publications people had keyed into ORO suddenly appeared in their ORCID account! But there were a few things for us to take away:

  • “Yes, but why?” There were still questions about why do researchers need to do this.  Even though I ran through the 10 benefits to researchers on the generic ORCID slides – ORCID for researchers.  The message needs refinement and I’ll create custom slides in the future.
  • Permissions – the level of permissions on an ORCID record and the way we replicate this in connecting ORO to ORCID needs better explanation and execution.  It’s reasonably complex and we need to think about better user experience.
  • “It doesn’t work!” – and it didn’t work for those profiles that had works with abstracts of more than 5,000 characters.  ORCID has a character limit on their “Long Description” which threw a spanner in the works.  Alan is fixing this!
  • Is it like ResearchGate/Academia.edu? Well no, not really.  ORCID is primarily about disambiguation and connecting authors with their various outputs via persistent identifiers.  It’s not primarily about networking with peers – but it should aid discoverability and help make connections.
  • Does it auto-update with everything we now add to ORO?  Erm, it will. Once the auto update is working everything that has subsequently been added to ORO will auto update.  And then going forward whenever a new paper is added to ORO it will be pushed to ORCID shortly after.  So keep on adding to ORO and once the auto update kicks in, ORCID will look after itself.

The development is still best considered in beta and only those people who signed up for the session had the ability to link ORO to ORCID.  It’s not available to all ORO users by default.  However, if you want to be able to do  (if you do please email the Library Research Support team). At this stage it’s probably best to do this on a one to one basis or in small groups.

And one last thing… we did a very short flip chart warm up where I asked people “Where, or how, did you find out about ORCID” which was instructive.


Most people who had encountered ORCID had been prompted to add an ORCID by publisher or funder submission systems.  So people had created ORCIDs in order to complete the submission of an article or a bid… and probably hadn’t done anything with their ORCID account afterwards.  So what’s the wider impact of this – researchers signing up for ORCIDs to comply with funder publisher requirements but not really knowing what it’s for, or what to do with it?  Zombie accounts we called them… and that’s a problem.

Posted in Library research support, ORCID, ORO | 1 Comment

Call for speakers at Soapbox Science event in Milton Keynes

Calling all female scientists – apply to be a speaker at Soapbox Science this summer!

Soapbox Science is a public outreach event that aims to promote the visibility of women in science, and challenge public (and academic) perceptions of who a scientist is. We have just launched our call for speakers for our 2017 events, including the Milton Keynes event which takes place in centre:mk this summer (by the indoor beach!). To get an idea of what the event is like take a look at this short film. All speakers who are selected receive training. There will also be a further call in April for volunteers (men and women) to help on the day.

Soapbox Science is expanding nationally and internationally, with 17 events planned across the globe in 2017 – that’s over 200 women who’ll take to the streets to share their research. Over the years, Soapbox has hosted prominent scientists such as Dame Georgina Mace, Dame Athene Donald and Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock alongside early-career scientists. The events attract 1000s of people – some come back every year to meet new scientists; others are new-comers or just passers-by who just happen upon the event. The event welcomes applications from PhD researchers to Professors who work in all aspects of science and technology.


Milton Keynes Soapbox Science event details:

  • Date: Saturday 29 July 2017
  • Time: 12-3pm
  • Location: Middleton Hall, centre:mk (by the indoor beach), Milton Keynes.

Deadline for applications: Friday 24 February. Please apply here.


Any questions about Soapbox Science feel free to email the event lead Jacqueline Hannam


You can also follow on Twitter @SoapboxSci_MK

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