From discussion into action

For this year’s International Open Access (OA) Week, the focus is firmly on the practical. Its theme – ‘open in action’ – should encourage everyone with a stake in the open research agenda to take solid steps towards making research more openly available.

As the emphasis shifts from discussion to action it’s worth taking a quick look back to recognise how far the research c0mmunity has already come along the OA road. Within universities, funding bodies, and research councils the concept of openness is well embedded and we’ve all got a much clearer idea of what works when it comes to putting this into practice.

Turning OA into ‘business as usual’

At Jisc, work is already well under way to resolve the remaining difficulties and help institutions to transform OA from interesting experiment into business as usual.

In the last couple of months we’ve updated the guide to implementing open access

that we first published in September 2015. Working in collaboration with the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA), Research Libraries UK (RLUK), the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL), and the United Kingdom Council of Research Repositories (UKCoRR) we’ve created a comprehensive guide to the practical steps institutions can take on the road to open access. It signposts people to resources and tools and offers pathfinder case studies – these are really useful in highlighting useful shortcuts and steering institutions away from dead ends that could end up wasting both time and money.

Offsetting agreements

This time last year, we interviewed Stuart Lewis, head of research and learning services and deputy director of library and university collections at the University of Edinburgh, and asked him what would help universities turn their good intentions on open access into action. He said that he’d like us to intervene in the relationships between publishers and universities to develop more “good and fair offsetting agreements” that could become a normal part of library subscriptions. He said this would benefit institutions and also academic publishers and in the last few months we’ve built on our earlier work on that, through Jisc Collections, reaching offsetting agreements with more leading publishers to help institutions make better use of their library and publishing budgets.

Over OA week itself, we will be announcing the Monitor launch, a service to help institutions manage and monitor what they publish in open access and how much it costs.

Monitor Local enables institutions to record and report on article processing costs (APCs) and compliance status of their publications while Monitor UK brings together that data and allows benchmarking across the UK.

Twenty-three institutions took part in the Monitor pilot programme, here’s what some of them told us:

“Jisc Monitor Local will enable us to manage the financial reporting element of APCs much better, and to track all our requests much more easily. It also has the advantage that this information can be fed in to Jisc Monitor UK directly and we will then have a much-improved picture of open access publishing at a national level. Ultimately, we want to replace our own in-house system with Jisc Monitor Local and manage all our requests this way.”

“Compliance is key to maintenance of our integrity as a research institution.  Many of our key performance indicators as a research office revolve around understanding our researchers’ engagement with open access and compliance with OA policies internally and externally.  The Monitor project gives us confidence that we will be able to provide this information in a timely way and authoritatively.  As we are a very small team this is vital.  At the same time the opportunity to ensure we are in tune with the community is vital.”

“Administering APC payments and monitoring the transition to open scholarship needs to become easier. We believe Jisc Monitor provides us with an opportunity to fundamentally improve the service offerings to our scholars, to engage with the wider community and to better meet the requirements of funders and other external stakeholders. It represents the community coming together to find a service to meet these challenges.”

“As publishing models shift, we hope the integrated Monitor UK service will provide Jisc [with] the leverage to reduce our library subscription costs thereby allowing us and other institutions to invest more money in this area.”

Improving efficiencies

 What can be done to help institutions capture more of their research outputs onto their open repositories? Jisc’s new service, Publications Router, addresses this need head on.

Institutions have long wanted to expose their research in this way, and this has been given added impetus by a range of open access policies and mandates. In the UK, the policy on open access and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) has been especially notable.

Following an earlier pilot phase, the Router went live as an official Jisc service in early August. It gathers notifications about research papers from publishers and other sources, and matches them to the institutions to which the co-authors are affiliated. It then delivers the metadata – and often the full text of the articles themselves – straight into the relevant institutions’ systems.

We’re currently taking feeds from several sources, including PLOS, eLife and Springer Nature.

We've had some great feedback from the participants so far, so if you’re at a UK institution that would like to receive content straight into Eprints, do get in touch. If you use other platforms we’d also be interested to hear from you.

 To take part in a broader conversation around open access, Jisc’s Open Access Hour will be taking place on Twitter on 27th October between 12.30 and 1.30pm GMT. Follow us @Jisc to join the discussion.

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