The Harvard model Open Access Policy has been in use since 2008 and has been adopted by over 70 organisations worldwide. Those organisations that have adopted the policy report that publishers request waivers in less than 5% of cases. Here we respond to communications from publisher representative bodies about this UK initiative to bring the Harvard model policy to the UK.

Publishers to the UK-SCL Steering Group

Publishers, through their representative bodies, the Publishers’ Association (PA) and the Association of Learned and Society Publishers (ALPSP) have been in dialogue with the UK-SCL Steering Group about our model policy. The PA have communicated their concerns to the Steering Group and have also published them online.  In short, the PA reports that “publishers would have no choice but to require authors to obtain waivers from the SCL“.

Steering Committee responses

The Steering Group has posted its line by line responses here and here. The original decision to go with the Harvard model and make deposited author accepted manuscripts visible on publication was a response to the low level of requests seen among those depositing under the policy, and because we observe a growing number of publisher themselves operating zero month embargoes, some even allowing release of the AAM prior to publication.  Whilst we do not yet understand why UK authors would be treated differently to their colleagues elsewhere, we are taking assertions seriously. Managing individual waiver requests for <5% deposits is sustainable but >65% is not. To that end the Steering Group have offered those publishers requesting them blanket waivers, with embargo periods of 6/12 months depending on REF2021 panels. This offer allows us to retain the key objectives of the UK Model Policy:

  • To facilitate the retention of re-use rights by academics not only as desired by academics but also as encouraged by funders of UK research
  • To provide a one-step action by which researchers can comply with multiple funder policies and remain eligible for the REF2021 and go beyond funder minimum compliance (e.g. HEFCE, see below). Particularly:
    • By using a CC-BY-NC licence. This licence is compliant with the RCUK policy and above the minimum compliance for REF eligibility. It is a licence which permits text and data mining, and re-use of all or parts of the work by the academic in ways other than as part of the original publication
    • The policy embargo default is zero months (earlier if publisher policies allow). This default is in line with institutions that have adopted the Harvard model since 2008
    • Automatic granting of a waiver with 6/12 month embargo for those publishers requesting it:
      • compliant with RCUK, Horizon 2020 etc
      • Above REF OA minimum eligibility
      • Allows for accidental 12 month waiver granting of an output which might subsequently be allocated to a Science Panel (= 6 month) embargo, and consequently ensures all outputs deposited under the terms of the model policy are eligible for inclusion in REF2021.