Even among the growing band of countries enthusiastic about open access’ (OA’s) benefits for research, the UK stands out as a trailblazer in this field.
All our major research funders now have well-developed OA policies and so, too, do a growing number of UK research institutions. Inevitably, this new reality puts more UK higher education institutes (HEIs) under pressure to develop OA strategies and policies of their own, although this is not always an easy thing to do.
Support for policy development
Although open access policies are not straightforward, there is plenty of support available. Over the last two and a half years we’ve been participating as the UK partner in the open access policy alignment strategies for European Union research (PASTEUR4OA) project, which has been working to promote the development and implementation of effective OA strategies and policies and – in the UK particularly – to inform funders and institutions about how best to develop (or to revise and refine) their own OA policies.
Regardless of the potential changes to EU working relationships, following the UK referendum, open access remains a key area for HEIs in ensuring a competitive edge to their research offer.
So what have we found out along the way? I’d like to share seven top tips that have been proved to help institutions as they develop (or revisit) their OA policy:
Use insights and expertise from colleagues right across your institution
Establish a working group and consult with stakeholders within your university to discover what they already know about OA, what they think about it and the issues that they believe the institutional OA policy needs to address.
Make use of guidance on policy development and take a look at the OA policies of major research funders and other institutions
A good place to start is with a review of guidance on developing and implementing an effective OA policy. At the same time, it’s important to explore the OA policies of major research funders so that you understand what they require - and look through the OA policies of institutions that are already successful in making their research outputs more openly available. There are examples from across Europe on the PASTEUR4OA website and examples from the UK in the OA good practice resources on the Jisc website.
Identify the financial and human resources you will need…
Do you need to create an institutional repository, or upgrade an existing one? Are you planning to provide funding for publication of research outputs? Will you need to train or recruit staff to manage OA workflows and processes?
…and look again at your infrastructure, systems and processes
You may need new or upgraded software, or new hosting arrangements – for example, to manage increased activity in the institutional repository. You also may need to overhaul, adapt or replace internal systems to manage new ways of working and ensure the OA policy can be implemented effectively.
Secure senior level buy-in
Submit the draft policy for approval by senior management. This is crucial to make sure that financial and other resources are committed and that necessary culture change is properly supported.
Tell your research community what they need to know
A robust programme of advocacy and communications will raise awareness of the benefits of OA and ensure that researchers understand the policy, its compliance requirements and the support mechanisms that you have in place to help them.
Monitor compliance and collect data to support efficient reporting
Make sure you are familiar with reporting requirements – one useful resource is the funding councils’ statement about information and audit requirements in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). You can download this from the HEFCE website.
The PASTEUR4OA project has amassed plenty of examples of effective monitoring processes and data collection; I’d recommend you to take a look at these to help you develop your own institutional processes to support streamlined, accurate reporting.
Alongside our work on the PASTEUR4OA project, which will wind up and produce its final deliverables later this summer, Jisc has been working closely with the academic community and research funders to provide a range of services that can help institutions to implement and monitor their OA policies and support each stage in the research publication lifecycle.
You can find out more about these services, and access our advice and guidance, in the open access section of our website.