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New service launches to clarify journal compliance with REF

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Jisc, the provider of digital services and solutions for UK higher and further education, has announced the availability of Sherpa REF.

Sherpa REF beta is a web service – funded and endorsed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) – that allows authors and institutions to quickly, accurately and easily check whether a journal they wish to publish in complies with open access (OA) policy for the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

The policy requires journal articles and conference proceedings accepted for publication after 1 April to be made OA to be eligible for submission to the next REF. Universities need to ensure their submissions are eligible and comply with current policy under the four UK higher education funding bodies: HEFCE, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland (DELNI).

Ben Johnson, higher education policy advisor (research), HEFCE said: 'We are delighted to be able to support Jisc in developing and launching this important tool to support authors in meeting the open access policy. As open access policies are implemented in the UK it is vital that authors have access to clear information that can support their publishing decisions. We see Sherpa REF becoming a key part of this and encourage users to provide feedback on this beta service.'

Jisc’s survey of 243 authors and 377 research support staff found that 80 per cent felt it would be important, very important or essential to have confidence that any publication they produce will be eligible for the REF, suggesting that the Sherpa REF service will be widely used.

Bill Hubbard, deputy head of scholarly communications support, Jisc commented: 'We’re pleased to release this service to extend the current information we give through Sherpa services. Through collaboration with HEFCE, we have been able to say not only whether a journal is compliant but also to recommend the most convenient route, whether that is using a repository or an open access publishing option.'

By enabling authors to easily check their compliance, Sherpa REF saves time and effort for universities in checking they meet the requirements – estimated to take on average between 30 and 60 minutes, according to the survey.

Valerie McCutcheon, research information manager, University of Glasgow, said: 'We are looking forward to being able to use SHERPA REF as a means of checking if specific publications will satisfy REF open access requirements.  The fact that this tool has been endorsed by HEFCE provides us with reassurance.'

Sherpa REF builds on the current portfolio of SHERPA services which help authors and universities decide whether a journal allows them to comply with OA policy and on the options available to do so.

Key benefits of Sherpa include:

  • It allows universities and authors to quickly and accurately check if a journal of choice is compliant with the REF open access (OA) policy;
  • It provides advice to authors on how to comply and informs them of relevant embargoes or other issues arising from publisher and journal policies;
  • Use of these services significantly reduces duplication of effort at an institutional level and offers efficiency gains for the sector as a whole; and
  • It provides quality-assured data.