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

From Research England 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.
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Initial decisions on REF 2021: summary points

 

On 1 September HEFCE published their initial decisions on some high-level aspects of REF 2021. Here’s the summary of the decisions:

Assessment and Scoring 

  • As in REF 2014, REF 2021 will assess the following:
    • outputs – 60% (down from 65%)
    • impact– 25% (up from 20%)
    • environment – 15%
  • The five point scale from unclassified to 4* (world leading) remains the same

Outputs

  • There will be strong support for interdisciplinary research: each sub panel will have at least one appointed member to oversee assessment of  interdisciplinary research (also see environment section below)
  • A Reserve output may be submitted when a publication does not appear in time for the REF submission deadline

Environment

The environment template will be expanded and restructured to include:

  • More quantitative data (details tbc in further guidance)
  • Data on research income, income in kind and research degrees awarded (as in REF 2014)
  • Information on enabling impact
  • Information on supporting collaboration beyond HE
  • Information on structures to support interdisciplinarity
  • Unit’s approach to Open Access/open research
  • Impact template (in REF 2014 this was a standalone template)
  • Support for equality and diversity
  • Institutional level information

A standalone institutional level environment statement will not be included in REF 2021 as recommended by the Stern Review.

Impact

  • Definitions of ‘academic impact’ and ‘wider impact’ will be aligned with the Research Councils’ definitions (both are part of the dual support system)
  • Further guidance will be provided around: ‘reach and significance’ of impact; impact arising from public engagement; impact on teaching, to include impact within, as well as beyond, the submitting institution.
  • Impact must be underpinned by  ‘excellent’ research of at least 2* quality and be produced between 01/01/2000 and 31/12/2020. The impact claimed in the case studies must take place between 01/08/2013 and 31/07/2020
  • The impact case study template will be expanded to include more questions and a section on additional contextual data
  • Cases studies will require “routine provision of audit evidence”, but this will remain confidential and not be given to the panel
  • The number of case studies required is still to be decided. It will possibly be linked to the number of outputs
  • Continuation of case studies from 2014 is allowed, but impact must take place during the REF 2021 assessment period (please see 2nd bullet above)

Please click here to view Initial Decisions on REF 2021 full document.

REF and UCA Research Online: a reminder!

It does not matter how good your research article is, if it is not Open Access, it is not eligible for REF!

Open Access is the free, unrestricted online access to research, and is now a national requirement for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF).

The key points:

Journal articles must be uploaded to UCA Research Online within 3 months of their acceptance date (not the publication date) in order to be eligible for REF. This version must be your accepted manuscript (not the publisher’s PDF).

All other research outputs should be uploaded to UCA Research Online (such as book chapters you have authored, exhibitions of your work) as UCA may get extra credit at REF for providing Open Access to all types of research outputs.

Making your work Open Access will also benefit you as a researcher – it helps to raise your research profile, with studies showing increased citation rates.

 Actions

As soon as you are notified that an article has been accepted for publication, upload it to UCA Research Online.

How can I add my research outputs?

Login with your UCA username/password at research.uca.ac.uk

There is a how-to video at research.uca.ac.uk/help/deposit.html

Contact us

Contact us at ucaro@uca.ac.uk

Staff in Library & Student Services can help you on uploading your research, adhering to the policy and any rules from publishers.

To view the REF Open Access policy in full, see: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2016/201635/

Awarding ‘Extra Points’

As I mentioned in my previous post HEFCE intends to give ‘extra REF points’ to the institutions which publish outputs other than journal articles and conference proceedings on the open access basis. I had a conversation with Amy Robinson, Repository Manager at UCA and our initial thoughts are that we generally agree with HEFCE’s proposition as long as the extra points are awarded to all types of research outputs submitted to REF, including non text based outputs.  If the extra points only apply to text-based outputs, such as monographs, this will unfairly disadvantage specialist arts institutions and will marginalize and disincentive open access. 54% of UCA’s outputs in the last REF were practice-based outputs!

We also support the proposal because the existing REF Open Access requirement in relation to journal articles and conference papers has complicated UCA’s internal advocacy for Open Access for all types of outputs and caused confusion to researchers.  We need to provide a clear, simple and consistent message to our researchers that values Open Access to all of their research.

There needs to be a very clear guidance about what constitutes ‘Open Access’ for non text based outputs, and REF could provide some useful clarification on this, e.g. the need for visual documentation, and not just metadata.

Monographs and Open Access

We said in our previous blog that monographs and other long-form research outputs need not be available in an open-access form to be eligible for REF 2021 submission. However, it seems like we will be moving towards open-access requirement for monographs in the following REF (REF 2028?). HEFCE has flagged this intention in the consultation document (Annex C).

 

 

 

 

Open Access and REF 2021

One of the key aspects of assessing research outputs submitted to REF 2021 will be availability of ALL journal articles and conference proceedings accepted for publication from 1 April 2016 in the open access form (UCA Research Online). Although this rule does not apply to monographs and other types of outputs ( exhibitions, performances, design work, etc.), HEFCE is intending to give ‘extra points’ to institutions which publish such outputs  on the open access basis, and where the work is presented in a format which can be re-used.

In order to award the ‘extra points’ HEFCE proposes that institutions provide a statement about their Open Access Strategy, supported by the data on the open access outputs and the type of licencing. As part of the REF consultation (paragraph 116) HEFCE seeks the sector’s views on awarding additional credit for open access.

 

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