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RCUK publishes first independent review of its open access policy

Research Councils UK (RCUK) has today, 26th March 2015, published the first independent review of the implementation of the RCUK Policy on Open Access.

Chaired by Professor Sir Bob Burgess, former University of Leicester Vice-Chancellor, the review received an excellent response from the research community, with over 85 submissions of written evidence highlighting how the policy is working in practice, with many positive responses about the principle of open access publishing. The independent review panel, made up of key experts across the disciplines in research, higher education, open access and publishing, also held oral evidence sessions with publishers and learned societies, plus visited institutions to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of the policy in practice.

A number of recommendations have been made by the review panel to help improve some of the processes involved in implementation of the policy, specifically in relation to the impact of embargoes and the use of licences in particular disciplines; communication of the policy; the use and distribution of RCUK’s block grant for open access; as well as the broader impact of the policy on different disciplines.

Sir Bob said: “Open access is an area that is quickly transforming the scholarly dissemination of research. I am delighted to have had the opportunity to chair this review and gain in-depth knowledge from the intellectual debates and from the impact that the policy is having in practice. We are at a very early stage of implementation, so much of the impact of the policy is yet to be realised, however it has been very important to take the time now to look at emerging evidence, inform future reviews, and get a view of where improvements to processes can be made.”

Professor Rick Rylance, Chair of RCUK, said: “RCUK Executive Group is very grateful to Sir Bob and his panel for undertaking such a thorough review. This is the first of these investigations as we review, in consultation with researchers, research organisations and other parties, the work we are doing to enable open access.  We will carefully consider the recommendations from the panel and will respond formally in the summer.”

The review examined the impact of the policy’s implementation for higher education institutions, independent research organisations, learned societies and publishers. This is the first of a number of independent reviews of the policy during the transition period (five years from the policy being introduced), and covers the first 16 months, April 2013 to July 1014, of the policy’s implementation.

 You can access a copy of the review of the RCUK Policy on Open Access here .

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Further information

Nicholas Turner
Press and Communications Manager
Tel: 01793 444592 or email: Nicholas Turner

Notes to editors

  1. Evidence for the review was gathered from the higher education sector, publishers, librarians, learned societies, researchers and funders. The review panel also invited a number of learned societies and publishers to give oral evidence and visited a small number of institutions to gather further evidence for the review. Written evidence submissions and transcripts of the oral evidence sessions are available on the RCUK website.

  2. This is the first of a number of independent reviews, which RCUK has committed to over the next few years, in order to monitor the implementation of the policy and provide advice where needed. The next review will be held in 2016.  Further details on the review, panel membership and terms of reference can be found here.

  3. 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 Innovate UK, the UK Higher Education funding bodies, business, government, and charitable organisations.

    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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