Significant new OA policy from the RCUK

Kudos to the Research Councils UK (RCUK) for strengthening its set of six year old set OA policies. From today's press release:

"The new policy, which will apply to all qualifying publications being submitted for publication from 1 April 2013, states that peer reviewed research papers which result from research that is wholly or partially funded by the Research Councils: [1] must be published in journals which are compliant with Research Council policy on Open Access, and; [2] must include details of the funding that supported the research, and a statement on how the underlying research materials such as data, samples or models can be accessed. Criteria which journals must fulfill to be compliant with the Research Councils’ Open Access policy are detailed within the policy, but include offering a “pay to publish” option or allowing deposit in a subject or institutional repository after a mandated maximum embargo period [of 6 months in the natural sciences and 12 months in the social sciences and humanities]. In addition, the policy mandates use of ‘CC-BY’, the Creative Commons ‘Attribution’ license, when an APC [article processing charge, a.k.a. publication fee] is levied....The Research Councils will provide block grants to eligible UK Higher Education Institutions, approved independent research organisations and Research Council Institutes to support payment of the Article Processing Charges (APCs)....In parallel, eligible organisations will be expected to set-up and manage their own publication funds...."

Here's the new policy itself, <http://goo.gl/zjFBR>.

Comments:
* The new policy takes the Finch Report into account but rejects its main conclusion. Instead of favoring gold over green, and even disparaging green, the new RCUK policy favors green over gold. The RCUK will mandate green, which the Finch report would not do. Both approaches will help pay for gold. By mandating green, the RCUK approach will cost less, bring about more OA, and bring it about faster than the approach recommended in the Finch Report.
* The RCUK policies already allowed grantees to use grant funds to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals. In that sense, the policies already supported gold OA. Under the new policy, the RCUK will help pay for gold OA through block grants to universities, administered by the universities themselves. By next year, every university in the UK should have an OA journal fund. It's not clear whether the RCUK will allocate more money for this purpose than it has previously been spending on gold OA. The Finch approach would require at least £60 million/year in new money to pay for gold.
* When RCUK funds are used to pay for publication in an OA journal (gold OA), the articles must be under CC-BY licenses. When RCUK funds are not used and grantees deposit their articles on OA repositories (green OA), the articles must be under CC-BY-NC licenses. The Finch report is vague about what license to require (or what reuse rights to demand) when taxpayers pay the costs of publication.
* The RCUK made sure to release its new policy before (probably just before) UK Science Minister David Willetts releases his evaluation of the Finch Report. Watch for the Willetts announcement later today, <http://goo.gl/uPbL4>.
* The RCUK represents all the major public research funding agencies in the UK. The Research Councils are also independent and can go their way even if other UK policies tilt toward the Finch recommendations.
* The RCUK stood firm on capping embargoes (in the natural sciences) at 6 months despite heavy lobbying from publishers. The Finch report recommends a 12 month embargo. 
* The RCUK called for public comments on its proposed policy revisions back in March. Here are the comments I submitted at the time, <http://goo.gl/RwsSo>.

#oa   #openaccess   #rcuk   #libre  
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