Yesterday I took part in the Imperial College Science Communication Forum event ‘discussing’ the new RCUK Policy on Access to Research Outputs with Stephen Curry (Imperial College) and Richard Van Noorden (Nature News) – though after two hours under the spotlight, for me it felt a little more like a ‘grilling’ than a discussion ;-) However, many thanks to the SciCommForum team for the invitation to present our policy in more detail and to have the opportunity to discuss issues around the interpretation and implementation of the policy. One of the things I committed to do was to update the guidance to the policy to be very clear about the choices RCUK funded authors can make in terms of which routes they must use to make their research papers open access. I want to use this blog post to reiterate the policy clarifications I gave at the SciCommForum event, and previously at the Open Access Publishers Association Meeting.
Our policy requires that 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.
A journal is compliant with our policy if it provides Gold OA using the CC-BY licence, and RCUK will provide funds to institutions to cover payment of APCs. However, if a journal is not prepared to offer a Gold CC-BY option, it can achieve compliance by offering a specific Green option which must meet the following requirements. It must allow, at a minimum, the accepted manuscript with all changes resulting from peer-review, to be deposited in a repository without restrictions on non-commercial re-use and with a maximum embargo period of 6 months. For a limited transition period the maximum embargo period is extended to 12 months for papers arising from research funded by the AHRC and the ESRC. This is in recognition that journals in these areas are not yet as well placed to move to an OA model.
So what does this mean for authors? If the journal they want to publish in only offers policy compliance through a Gold route, they must use that journal’s Gold option. If the journal only offers compliance through the Green route, the author must ensure that a copy of the post-print is deposited in an appropriate repository – for example, UKPMC for papers arising from MRC funded research. If the journal offers both a Gold and a Green route to compliance (and some journals already do this), it is up to the author and their institution to decide on the most appropriate route to use. And, if a journal offers neither a Green nor a Gold compliant route, it is not eligible to take RCUK funded work, and the author must use a different, compliant, journal.
The Research Councils are not anti-Green and support a dual approach for delivering OA. However, we do have a strong preference for Gold, and I will explain why in my next blog post. And, where there is a choice between compliant-Green and compliant-Gold – either through a journal offering both routes to compliance, or through using different journals offering different compliance routes – it is up to authors and their institutions to work together to make the choice as to which option to use.
Questions about our Open Access policy? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
An audio recording of the Imperial College discussion is available on FigShare.