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RCUK announces new Open Access policy

Research Councils UK (RCUK) has today, 16th July 2012, unveiled its new Open Access policy. Informed by the work of the National Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, chaired by Professor Dame Janet Finch, the policy at once harmonises and makes significant changes to existing Research Councils’ Open Access policies.

Professor Douglas Kell, RCUK Champion for Research and Information Management commented: "Widening access to the outputs of research currently published in journals has the potential to contribute substantially to furthering the progress of scientific and other research, ensuring that the UK continues to be a world leader in these fields. I am delighted that, together, the Research Councils have been able both to harmonise and to make significant changes to their policies, ensuring that more people have access to cutting edge research that can contribute to both economic growth in our knowledge economy and the wider wellbeing of the UK."

Drs. Astrid Wissenburg, Chair of RCUK Impact Group and RCUK representative on the National Working Group on Open Access commented: “As the bodies charged with investing public money in research, the Research Councils take very seriously their responsibilities in making the outputs from this research publicly available – not just to other researchers, but also to potential users in business; charitable and public sectors; and to the general public. Working with other funders such as HEFCE, DFID and the Wellcome Trust, this new policy signifies a move to a sustainable, affordable and transparent model of making outputs from the research that they fund more openly accessible.”

The new policy, which will apply to all qualifying publications being submitted for publication from 1 April 2013, states 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, 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.

Criteria which journals must fulfil to be compliant with the Research Councils’ Open Access policy are detailed within the policy, but include offering a “pay to publish” option or allowing deposit in a subject or institutional repository after a mandated maximum embargo period. In addition, the policy mandates use of the Creative Commons ‘Attribution’ license (CC-BY), when an Article Processing Charge (APC) is levied. The CC-BY licence allows others to modify, build upon and/or distribute the licensed work (including for commercial purposes) as long as the original author is credited.

The Research Councils will provide block grants to eligible UK Higher Education Institutions, approved independent research organisations and Research Council Institutes to support payment of the APCs associated with ‘pay-to-publish’. In parallel, eligible organisations will be expected to set-up and manage their own publication funds. The Research Councils will work with eligible organisations to discuss the detail of the new approach to funding APCs and to ensure that appropriate and auditable mechanisms are put in place to manage the funds.

Along with HEFCE and other relevant Funding Bodies, we shall monitor these policies actively, both to review their effects and to ensure that our joint objectives on Open Access are being met.

RCUK policy on Access to Research Outputs.

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Further information

Contact:
Alexandra Saxon
Head of Communications
Tel: 01793 444474 or email: Alexandra Saxon

Notes to editors

  1. The new RCUK policy on access to research outputs brings together the commitment that the Research Councils have to Open Access and builds on the separate policies that they have had in place since 2005.

  2. As opening up access to research outputs is a key part of the research process, the funding for APCs will be made available from the existing budgets of the Research Councils.

  3. Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications - The report from the National Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, chaired by Professor Dame Janet Finch and further information on the working group on expanding access.

  4. The Government has responded to the recommendations of the Finch Report and that response includes further clarification on the treatment of embargo periods in those cases (which will not apply to any Research Council funded research), where publicly funded research does not have access to Article Processing Charge (APC) Funds for open access publication purposes.

  5. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils who annually invest around £3 billion in research. We support excellent research, as judged by peer review, that has an impact on the growth, prosperity and wellbeing of the UK. To maintain the UK’s global research position we offer a diverse range of funding opportunities, foster international collaborations and provide access to the best facilities and infrastructure around the world. We also support the training and career development of researchers and work with them to inspire young people and engage the wider public with research. To maximise the impact of research on economic growth and societal wellbeing we work in partnership with other research funders including the Technology Strategy Board, the UK Higher Education funding bodies, business, government, and charitable organisations.
    www.rcuk.ac.uk

The seven UK Research Councils are:

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC);

  • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);

  • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC);

  • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);

  • Medical Research Council (MRC);

  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC);

  • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC).


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