“It is fair to say that at this stage clarity around the overall funding of this planned move has yet to be achieved.”

On 11 September at the British Academy there was a well-attended symposium on the state of play in the world of academic open-access publishing, with presentations from academics, including Dr Caroline Warman, Oxford, and publishers, including UCL Press and Open Books. It is the intention of Research England, which is the successor organisation to HEFCE for matters to do with research, that for the next REF (in 2027 or thereabouts) only monographs published in open access mode (ie available at a few clicks of a mouse to anyone anywhere in the world with a device and an internet connection) will be eligible for submission. The minutes of the event will be available shortly. In the meantime, this is the programme:

At present the principle objection to the policy and obstacle in the way of its implementation is that someone has to pay for the publication, including organising peer review, editing, copy-editing and type-setting. At UCL Press, UCL picks up the tab for its own academics and charges most others £5000. UCL Press also sends out print copies for review and sale, thus making the best of both worlds. Academics who have published in open access tend to be converts and boast much greater interaction with readers.

UCML’s concern has been that our members are more likely to publish in other countries and in languages other than English and that foreign publishers would not be bound by any deal Research England and its equivalent agencies in the devolved regions may make with publishers in the UK. This fear may be unfounded for two reasons: academics in other countries are also moving towards open access and Continental academic publishers are already often charging as much in subsidies as any book processing fee. Helen Snaith, senior policy adviser at Research England who is driving the initiative forward insists there will be exceptions to the rule when it is brought in. It is fair to say that at this stage clarity around the overall funding of this planned move has yet to be achieved.

Julian Preece, VC Research

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