A university Open Access Policy responding to researcher and funder needs

The UK Scholarly Communications Model Policy and Licence (UK-SCL) is a model Open Access Policy aimed at supporting UK researchers to help them to keep ownership of academic research within the academic community – for visibility, impact, access and re-use whilst ensuring that they can retain copyright and, where required by the publisher, assign it. The terms of the policy mean that it is compliant with the deposit compliance/eligibility criteria for most funders of UK research.

Key information for publishers

The policy is based on the Harvard Model policy. That model

  • Has been in use since 2008
  • Has been adopted by over 70 institutions worldwide
  • The policy is established to an extent that where researcher outputs have been deposited under the policy, publishers have requested waivers for less that 5% of outputs
  • The small number of adaptations in the policy have been made so that the policy achieves its aims in the UK copyright and funder environment.

The policy responds in particular to key UK Funder calls for a transition to Open Access publishing. The UK-SCL community note that some publishers have policies that remain on the “minimum compliance” rung of the OA ladder – they continue to seek longer embargoes than those desired by funders and continue to seek to apply very restrictive licences. Meanwhile, other publishers support a meaningful transition to open access in the UK and we observe:

  • A growing number of publishers whose business models are supporting open access publishing, particularly through the development of efficient pure gold publishing models and effective flipped model/offsetting agreements.
  • A growing number of publishers who have established green open access policy with zero month embargo periods, or other embargo periods and licenses which go beyond the minimum criteria set by research funders

The model UK-SCL model open access policy mirrors the Harvard model in that it achieves:

  • retention of re-use rights for the researcher
  • Enables researchers to assign copyright to publishers whilst noting that funder and publisher views on copyright assignment are not necessarily aligned
  • Facilitates release of the Author Accepted Manuscript on the date of publication as is already the case with the Harvard model.
  • Offers publishers a transition arrangement whereby blanket waivers can be agreed for an initial period.

The UK-SCL community welcomes the fact that RCUK has extended its funding for supporting immediate gold OA of journal articles and conference proceedings whilst continuing to support a mixed approach to Open Access, with the decision on which route to follow remaining at the discretion of the researchers and their research organisations. There is no doubt that UK funders between them have driven a much greater awareness of open access publishing and open science practices in general since the more recent RCUK policy came into force in 2013. The choice of OA route is becoming more important amongst institutions as demand for OA publishing begins to stretch available budgets.

Publishers provide a valued service to the academics who publish with them, and to their institutions. Funders consider it entirely reasonable that access to the research that they have funded should be free of barriers. Academics are becoming more aware of the benefits of open access of early communication of their research findings. The UK-SCL model open access policy and licence responds to all these points.