Reactions to UKRI consultation announcement

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There has been a mixed, but largely positive, reaction to the UKRI's consultation on open access policy.

The UK Research and Innovation consultation, which opened yesterday (13 February) and will close on 17 April, will 'inform the development of a new open access policy, aimed at ensuring that the published outputs of research are widely and freely accessible to all.'

It is open to any group, organisation or individual with an interest in research and innovation to respond. UKRI says it 'recognises open access as an important part of achieving maximum impact from public investment in research'.

UKRI's Executive Champion for Open Access, Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, said: 'Maximising the re-use of publicly-funded research findings is central to UKRI’s ambitions for research and innovation in the UK.

'We encourage contributions from across the research and innovation landscape to the consultation, which will help to shape our forthcoming new open access policy.'

The proposed policy applies to peer-reviewed research articles accepted for publication on or after 1 January 2022. Under the proposed policy, these should be made freely and immediately available online through a journal, open access publishing platform or an institutional or subject repository. UKRI would also require articles to be made available with a license allowing maximum reuse.

The proposed policy extends open access requirements to include academic monographs, book chapters and edited collections, whilst taking into account that the open access environment for long-form publications is different.

Reacting to the announcement, Steven Inchcoombe, chief publishing officer at Springer Nature, said: 'This is a detailed consultation from UKRI which we are reading with interest and will respond to in due course.  The transition to open access is something we fully support as it is a crucial part of the journey to open research and the wider benefits this will bring to the research community.  It is therefore too important to get wrong and so needs to be done in way which is inclusive and ultimately sustainable.  

'We are proud to already have around 600 fully OA journals covering all academic disciplines, more national transformative agreements in place than any other publisher and have published more immediately OA articles than anyone else. Therefore we remain firmly committed to working with all who share this vision of an open future as it is this which, we believe, will greatly speed up the advancement of science and academic research.'

Liam Earney, executive director for digital resources at the UK not-for-profit agency Jisc, added: 'Jisc welcomes the opportunity to respond to the consultation. We particularly welcome the intent to harmonise policy across UKRI as far as possible, the emphasis on immediate and sustainable open access independent of the route (green or gold) and the inclusion of OA monographs.  

'The consultation is substantial and demonstrates considerable attention has been given to taking account of the many complex issues surfaced in the development of this draft policy. We look forward to providing input based on evidence from Jisc’s experience in the areas of licensing and copyright, innovation, institutional repositories, OA infrastructure and sustainability.'

Rob Johnson of Research Consulting, added in a blog post: 'The proposals are broadly aligned with Plan S, with a delayed implementation date of 1 January 2022 for articles, but go beyond it in setting a deadline for 1 January 2024 for OA books. 

'The consultation document suggests UKRI hasn't yet formed a clear view on many of the critical issues, such as the role of hybrid journals, transformative agreements, price transparency and licensing. On the plus side, this suggests it is a genuine attempt to consult the community. On the downside, it means we're unlikely to get any clarity on the final policy till late 2020 at best.'