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Our response to UKRI’s open access review consultation

Posted: 29 June 2020

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) recently held a policy consultation as part of its Open Access Review. The consultation will inform the development of an improved UKRI open access policy, ensuring that the published outputs of UKRI-funded research are widely and freely accessible to all. Below are select excerpts from our response to the 2020 UKRI policy consultation. The full response is available here. You can also see our recent response to the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Request for Information on open access.

Question 55. Are there any technical standards that UKRI should consider requiring and/or encouraging in its OA policy to facilitate access, discoverability and reuse of OA monographs, book chapters and edited collections?

Arcadia’s response:

Yes.

The publisher must make efforts to advertise the existence of a freely available version on the DOI-landing page of the publisher version of the work, and in all metadata supplied in the form of MARC records, ONIX feeds, and CrossRef DOI associated metadata. The licence of the work should be clearly given on the DOI-landing page and in all forms of associated metadata that the publisher supplies be it MARC or ONIX or DOI or all. If the publisher is known to not provide adequate metadata about open access and open access licensing, then withhold all Book Publishing Charges from that publisher until they provide it. Better still, warn authors not to submit to the publisher with a ‘blacklist’ of non-compliant publishers.

Some publishers both in journals and in monographs have been doing rather sneaky things to hide the existence of a freely accessible version. See Piwowar (2018) ‘Where’s Waldo With Public Access Links’. For ‘gold’ open access works, ensure the publisher creates a link from which the entirety of the book can be downloaded as PDF (or other format e.g. EPUB) in one-click – far too many platforms break-up books into chapters with absolutely no provision of a link to download the work in its entirety – this is annoying for users.

 

Question 60. Do you foresee any benefits for you, your organisation or your community arising from UKRI’s proposed OA policy?

Arcadia’s response:

Yes.

Arcadia’s environment grantees – working to conserve and restore biodiversity and landscapes will undoubtedly benefit from more open access to cutting-edge research. We note that a recent analysis of a survey of conservation practitioners by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) indicates that “half (49%) of the respondents find it not easy or not at all easy to access scientific literature” [1].

We also think that more open access will result in better UK environment policy. We can’t help but note that the UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) has “shocking” (poor) access to research and appears to rely on university-affiliated placement students to access paywalled research [2]. This is a view more generally supported by Nick Hillman too, who wrote: “Policymakers have no access to academic journals. There is no institutional Westminster or Whitehall log-in, so politicians and civil servants generally see less academic research than the greenest undergraduate” [3].

[1] Larios et al (2020) “Access to Scientific Literature by the Conservation Community” 

[2] De Palma (2015) “Why all PhD Students should do a policy placement”

[3] Hillman (2016) “The 10 Commandments for Influencing Policymakers”