Over 80% of research outputs meet requirements of REF 2021 open access policy

Over 80% of research outputs meet requirements of REF 2021 open access policy

14 June 2018

Sixty one per cent of research outputs known to be in scope for the REF 2021 are meeting open access deposit, discovery and access requirements, with a further twenty per cent reporting a known exception, a report published today shows.

The report details the findings of a survey by the former Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Wellcome Trust, the former Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Jisc. The survey sought to assess how the sector is delivering funders’ open access (OA) policies and to understand some of the challenges the sector faces. The four project partners were also interested in understanding the methods and tools being used across the sector to ensure policy compliance.

Research England’s Executive Chair, David Sweeney, said:

‘Research England is committed to open research and making publically funded research as freely and as widely available as possible is an important part of the research system. We are pleased to see the progress the sector is making with implementing the REF open access policy. We expect institutions to find this benchmark data useful when considering their own practices.’

Results from the survey show that over two thirds of Gold OA charges from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2018 were funded by RCUK and/or the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF), highlighting the sector’s reliance on these central funds to support this route to open access.

Respondents also highlighted some of the challenges of open access and the wide variety of systems and software solutions being used to monitor OA compliance, deposit author-accepted manuscripts (AAMs), and track article processing charges (APCs).

Survey responses highlighted the need for greater interoperability between systems, and over fifty percent of universities indicated that they intend to adopt the Jisc Publications Router in the future as one way to address this challenge.

The report comes as Wellcome reviews its open access policy for the first time since 2012. UK Research and Innovation will also carry out an internal review of its OA policies across the research councils over the next year. The REF 2021 OA policy will not be affected by this review.

One hundred and thirteen universities took part in the survey, which was piloted by Research Consulting in spring 2017 and circulated to HEIs during summer 2017.

Survey responses were used to inform the REF decisions on staff and outputs, published in November 2017.

-ENDS-

Notes

  1. Research England shapes healthy, dynamic research and knowledge exchange in English universities. We are responsible for funding, engaging with and understanding these institutions, and working with devolved funding bodies and the Office for Students to understand their strategies, capabilities and capacity. We support and challenge universities to create new knowledge, strengthen the economy, and enrich society. We distribute over £2.2bn to universities in England every year in the form of quality-related research (QR) funding, and via the Higher Education Innovation Fund. We are responsible for administering the Research Excellence Framework, used to inform QR funding, and for delivering the forthcoming Knowledge Exchange Framework. We also support specific activities with dedicated project funding, including the £900m UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, and the £100m Connecting Capability Fund. The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 established Research England as a Council of UK Research and Innovation alongside the seven Research Councils and Innovate UK. www.ukri.org/re@ResEngland
  2. HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018, with its research and knowledge exchange functions assumed by Research England, a new council within UK Research and Innovation. Research England is responsible for providing grant funding to English universities for research and knowledge exchange activities; developing and implementing the Research Excellence Framework in partnership with the UK Higher Education funding bodies; overseeing the sustainability of the Higher Education research base in England; overseeing the £900 million UK Research Partnership Investment Fund; and the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF).
  3. As of 1 April 2018 UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven Research Councils (previously represented by RCUK), Innovate UK and Research England.
  4. COAF is a partnership between six health research charities, including the Wellcome Trust, to enable free and unrestricted access to the published outputs of the research they support.
  5. The Wellcome Trust announced an internal review of its open access policy on 5 March 2018.
  6. REF 2021 decisions on staff and outputs can be viewed here.