Information for Historians on Open Access for the next REF

Open Access 4The university funding councils led by HEFCE have recently announced their policy for open access that will apply from 2016 for journal articles that are submitted to the next REF (expected in 2020). This policy will apply to all journal articles – but not to other forms of publication, including chapters in edited volumes or monographs – authored by researchers who are employed by a UK university at the time of publication. It is a more liberal policy than the previously-announced policy of the research councils; it allows a number of important exceptions and exemptions. If you are funded by AHRC or ESRC, you are bound by the more stringent policy: see our Information Sheet for Historians on the RCUK Open Access Policy.  If you are not funded by AHRC or ESRC (or the Wellcome Trust, which funds history of medicine, and has a policy of its own), this information sheet applies to you, if you are employed by a UK university and wish your journal articles to be eligible for submission to the next REF.  Read the full HEFCE policy and some helpful FAQs.

PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS INFORMATION SHEET

 What do I need to do to ensure that my articles are eligible for the next REF?

1. At the point when your article has been accepted by a journal (i.e. after peer review, and possibly after revisions have been accepted), you should immediately upload the accepted manuscript to your institution’s digital repository. There is a tight three-month window after acceptance within which this deposit must be made.

Upload into the repository does not make your article open access, but it makes it ‘discoverable’ – that is, searches should be able to locate it.  There is no reason not to do this, starting now, even though the policy doesn’t kick in until 2016 – we should all get used to doing so.

If you are not employed by a university at the time your article is accepted, you don’t need to deposit your manuscript anywhere.  But if you are subsequently employed by a university, it would be wise to deposit any manuscripts accepted since 1 January 2014 (which will be eligible for the next REF) once you’ve taken up your new employment.

2. When you upload to the repository, the repository software should ask you under what terms you are able to make it accessible. You’ll need to know answers to the following questions:

i. Does your journal permit open access at all? Your journal will be able to tell you this.  Most UK-based journals do permit open access.  However, some international journals – including very prominent journals, and many published in the U.S. – do not.  The HEFCE policy allows you to publish in these journals if they are ‘the most appropriate’ outlet for your work.  The judgement of what is ‘the most appropriate’ outlet is up to you, the author, and your institution.  Your institution should accept your assurance that you have chosen the most appropriate journal for the work.  If it doesn’t, please let us know (and we may be able to help).

ii. If your journal permits open access, does it stipulate an ‘embargo’ period during which the deposited manuscript must remain closed to open access? Most UK-based journals do stipulate an embargo period.  Much like the ‘moving wall’ policy maintained by JSTOR, this ensures that journals are able to charge moderate and responsible subscription rates to university libraries to cover the costs of publication, which would not be possible if most of the content were freely available immediately.  Most UK-based journals will stipulate an embargo period that complies with HEFCE’s policy of a maximum 24-month (2-year) embargo for articles in humanities journals.  If your journal has an embargo period longer than this maximum, again you are permitted to publish there so long as that journal is ‘the most appropriate’ outlet for your work.

iii. Do all the ‘rights-owners’ to materials you have used in your publication consent to open access?  This applies especially to owners of images, music, literary works and other copyright works who may have given you permission to use their materials in your publication, but only on certain terms.  When you seek permissions, make sure to find out whether they include open access and on precisely what conditions.  Under the terms of this policy, you are exempted from any open-access conditions to which the rights-owners object.

iv. On what terms do you wish to make your work accessible, once it is on open access? This question concerns exactly which rights you wish to surrender to users of your open-access work.  Under this policy, all open-access work must be available for copying and distribution in its original form.  But you have a choice to limit further uses – for example, you can stipulate that users do not alter your work (e.g. mix your work and theirs and re-publish it under both your names, acknowledging that your original work forms part of the new work but without specifying which is which – this is called ‘derivative use’) or that they do not use your work for commercial purposes.  To specify what rights you wish to retain and what rights you wish to surrender, you should be asked which ‘licence’ you wish to issue your work under.  The open-access organization Creative Commons provides a suite of licences from which you can choose (and which many journals offer).  We recommend the CC BY-NC ND licence, which allows free distribution of the original work, but not derivative or commercial uses.  This licence is explicitly permitted by the HEFCE policy (but not the RCUK policy).  Again, you should consult your journal as to which licences they are offering, choose your favoured licence, and tell your repository which you have chosen.

 If your institution does not ask you these questions, they may have chosen ‘default’ answers for you.  You may wish to ask the people who run your institution’s Open Access policy what those default answers are, and vary them accordingly.  You should also check directly with your journal what its policies are – the databases (such as Sherpa/Romeo) which are sometimes used to assess journals’ compliance with Open Access policies are often inaccurate or vague;  go to the horse’s mouth.

3. When the article is published, under the terms of the policy you can leave the accepted manuscript in the repository, and do nothing further. But you may also wish to add the published version, if your journal permits.  Some journals will permit the uploading of the published version at the end of the embargo period, but others won’t;  others may even require it, to ensure that it is the published version that is taken as the version of record.  If the journal does permit this, we consider that it is best practice to replace the accepted manuscript with the published version (which after all is the version of record, and the one you want quoted or cited, and indeed the one you want assessed for the REF).  The HEFCE policy explicitly allows such replacement.

4. ‘Gold’ open access. All of the information given above is based on the assumption that the vast majority of journal articles published by historians will be made open access without the payment of any publication fee (an ‘Article Processing Charge’, APC, or similar).  The HEFCE policy permits but does not require ‘Gold’ open access where a fee is paid for immediate open access.  We consider the practice of ‘pay to publish’ to be wrong in principle, as it gives unfair advantages to funded researchers, and also gives too much discretion to managers who hold publication funds over what and where academics publish.  There is no requirement, under either the HEFCE or the RCUK policy, to ask for or to accept ‘Gold’ publication funds and we recommend you avoid them.

HEFCEOne final point.  The HEFCE policy has a number of ambiguities embedded into it, which may suggest to university managers that – even though all of the policies above are stated explicitly – they ought to go beyond the stated minima;  they might ask their researchers not to publish in ‘the most appropriate’ journal, or to give up more of their rights than necessary.  But the HEFCE policies have been made deliberately permissive in response to objections that the more restrictive RCUK policies will damage academic freedom and quality.  It cannot be right to stipulate these permissive policies and then seek to claw them back by offering managers incentives to ignore them – either they’re necessary for the health of our disciplines or they’re not.  We are seeking clarification from HEFCE.  In the meantime, if you get ‘pushback’ from managers, asking or requiring you to go beyond the terms of this policy in ways that you are not comfortable with, please let us know.

Summary:

  1. Upload your accepted manuscript as soon as possible to your institution’s repository. If you don’t have an institution, you don’t have to do this.
  1. Find out what your journal’s Open Access policy is; know what choices you have and make those choices clear to your institution;  if your journal isn’t compliant with the HEFCE policy, make a case that it is still the most appropriate publication for your article.
  1. If and when possible, replace the deposited manuscript with the published version.
  1. There is no need for your institution (or anyone else) to pay for you to publish: ‘Green’ is generally preferable to ‘Gold’, and should be widely available.
  1. If you need further advice, ask us: info@royalhistsoc.org

 Printable version

Main Research Policy page

 

Open Access

All historians should want their work to be as accessible as possible – and so they ought to support ‘open access’ (i.e. free access to their work posted on the web), wherever possible. The Royal Historical Society has recently launched its own monographic series New Historical Perspectives under Open Access protocols, demonstrating its own institutional commitment to broad access to historical scholarship. Nonetheless, in the present national and international publishing landscape, there are limits to what is possible without sacrificing academic freedom and quality. Peer-review and publication do not come free – there are costs involved in reviewing and editing your work, mounting it on the web, sending it to journals for review and otherwise advertising its publication. Furthermore, authors have for decades enjoyed certain moral rights to have their work properly used, reproduced and attributed.  Not all forms of ‘open access’ respect these rights, nor have their virtues or demerits been subject to systematic scrutiny in recent OA discussions. What follows is a very rough guide to a complicated and ever-changing landscape.  In the British context recent (spring 2018) policy developments around the Research Excellence Framework and Open Access have rendered an already complex situation potentially even moreso: you can find commentary from the Royal Historical Society on some specific challenges arising here, and for a more extended analysis, the recent (May 2018) statement from the British Academy is well worth reading too.

Manuscripts

15th-century_paintersYou have the right to do whatever you want with your own manuscripts (drafts of papers, conference presentations, etc.), so long as you’re not using content that belongs to other people (e.g. images, music, major portions of copyright works).   Why not post them on your own website or a site such as academia.edu?  But you will need to consider what rights over your own content you wish to give to others.  You’ll need to indicate the terms on which you are posting. If you say ‘all rights reserved’, then you are of course permitting others to read your work, but not to use it in any other way.  If you are happy for others to use your work – for example, to copy and distribute it – Creative Commons has designed a range of licences that you can use to indicate exactly what uses you are happy to permit (see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/). The most popular of these licences among humanities scholars tends to be CC  BY-NC ND. This allows others to copy your work in full and distribute it intact, but not to alter it or to combine it with their other work in ways that make it difficult to distinguish yours from theirs, and not to make use of it commercially. Just add the relevant CC logo to your paper when you upload it to show under what terms you are making it available.

Dissertations

This is a particularly vexing subject.  Most universities are now developing institutional policies for dissertations produced by their own students, but these vary widely.  All universities require you to deposit your dissertation in their libraries (or, increasingly, their online repositories), but many offer ‘embargoes’ that prevent others from accessing your work without your permission for a period of 2-6 years or longer. This is because, in our discipline, dissertations do not (as they often do in the sciences) bring together work that has been published elsewhere in article form, and they are often seen only as rough drafts for a book that will eventually be published.  It’s not clear whether the availability of your dissertation will interfere with your ability to publish a book based on it. So the embargo gives you some control over the dissemination of your work until it is published. The American Historical Association encourages universities to permit embargoes of up to 6 years (see http://blog.historians.org/2013/07/american-historical-association-statement-on-policies-regarding-the-embargoing-of-completed-history-phd-dissertations/). You should find out for yourself what is your own institution’s policy.

Journal articles

This is the area where open access has extended furthest (reflecting the centrality of the journal article in the sciences, where the open access movement began, and upon which many policies are based). Funding bodies are now often mandating open access – that is, if they pay for your research, and you publish it in the form of a journal article, you must make it open access according to certain prescribed conditions. So your approach to your own journal articles will depend on who (if anyone) has paid for you to do your research. The RHS has prepared information sheets explaining the open-access conditions for those funded by the research councils (e.g. AHRC, ESRC) – which are particularly stringent – and those employed on teaching and research contracts by universities who are eligible for submission to the REF.  A good general rule of thumb – you don’t need to pay an ‘Article Processing Charge’ (APC) or any other publication fee in order to ensure ‘open access’ for your article. Any publisher that insists on payment without offering free open-access options merits the closest scrutiny.

Books

Politics of GenderThere are at present no mandates from any UK funders of historical research (except for the Wellcome Trust who fund research in the history of medicine) requiring open access for work published in book form, including chapters in collections of essays.  (Some mandates refer to ‘conference proceedings’, but this refers to journal-like forms of publication common in the sciences and does not cover collections of essays published as books, even if they derive from conferences.)  Because publication of books is a good deal more expensive than publication of articles, there are formidable barriers to providing open access for books in ways that do not discriminate against un- or under-funded historians (i.e. most of us!).  However, the recent policy developments described above, and in particular the likely requirement that ‘a proportion’ of long-form (i.e. book-length) research be published in Open Access form to be eligible for the REF exercise of 2027, is (potentially) a major change in practice, with clear implications for Early Career Historians. The Royal Historical Society is closely involved in this important transition, and is happy to provide informal advice to colleagues with specific enquiries, even if the current uncertainty of some important policy outcomes makes hard-and-fast recommendations extremely difficult at this stage.

 

ECH – Open Access

All historians should want their work to be as accessible as possible – and so they ought to support ‘open access’ (i.e. free access to their work posted on the web), wherever possible.  But there are limits to what is possible without sacrificing academic freedom and quality.  For example, publication doesn’t come free – there are costs involved in editing your work and mounting it on the web.  Furthermore, as an author you have certain moral rights to have work properly used, reproduced and attributed, which not all forms of ‘open access’ respect.  What follows is a very rough guide to a complicated and ever-changing landscape.

 Manuscripts

You have the right to do whatever you want with your own manuscripts (drafts of papers, conference presentations, etc.), so long as you’re not using content that belongs to other people (e.g. images, music, major portions of copyright works).   Why not post them on your own website or a site such as academia.edu?  But you will need to consider what rights over your own content you wish to give to others.  You’ll need to indicate the terms on which you are posting.  If you say ‘all rights reserved’, then you are of course permitting others to read your work, but not to use it in any other way.  If you are happy for others to use your work – for example, to copy and distribute it – Creative Commons has designed a range of licences that you can use to indicate exactly what uses you are happy to permit (see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/).  The most popular of these licences among humanities scholars tends to be CC  BY-NC ND.  This allows others to copy your work in full and distribute it intact, but not to alter it or to combine it with their other work in ways that make it difficult to distinguish yours from theirs, and not to make use of it commercially.  Just add the relevant CC logo to your paper when you upload it to show under what terms you are making it available.

 Dissertations

This is a particularly vexing subject.  Most universities are now developing institutional policies for dissertations produced by their own students, but these vary widely.  All universities require you to deposit your dissertation in their libraries (or, increasingly, their online repositories), but many offer ‘embargoes’ that prevent others from accessing your work without your permission for a period of 2-6 years or longer. This is because, in our discipline, dissertations do not (as they often do in the sciences) bring together work that has been published elsewhere in article form, and they are often seen only as rough drafts for a book that will eventually be published.  It’s not clear whether the availability of your dissertation will interfere with your ability to publish a book based on it.  So the embargo gives you some control over the dissemination of your work until it is published.  The American Historical Association encourages universities to permit embargoes of up to 6 years (see http://blog.historians.org/2013/07/american-historical-association-statement-on-policies-regarding-the-embargoing-of-completed-history-phd-dissertations/).  You should find out for yourself what is your own institution’s policy.

 Journal articles

This is the area where open access has extended furthest (reflecting the centrality of the journal article in the sciences, where the open access movement began, and upon which many policies are based).  Funding bodies are now often mandating open access – that is, if they pay for your research, and you publish it in the form of a journal article, you must make it open access according to certain prescribed conditions.  So your approach to your own journal articles will depend on who (if anyone) has paid for you to do your research.  The RHS has prepared information sheets explaining the open-access conditions for those funded by the research councils (e.g. AHRC, ESRC) – which are particularly stringent – and those employed on teaching and research contracts by universities who are eligible for submission to the REF.    A good general rule of thumb – you don’t need to pay an ‘Article Processing Charge’ (APC) or any other publication fee in order to ensure ‘open access’ for your article.  Any publisher that insists on payment without offering free open-access options merits the closest scrutiny.

 Books

There are at present no mandates from any UK funders of historical research (except for the Wellcome Trust who fund research in the history of medicine) requiring open access for work published in book form, including chapters in collections of essays.  (Some mandates refer to ‘conference proceedings’, but this refers to journal-like forms of publication common in the sciences and does not cover collections of essays published as books, even if they derive from conferences.)  In other words, you are unlikely to be required to put your work published in book form on open access anytime soon – and certainly not for the next REF (c. 2020).  Because publication of books is a good deal more expensive than publication of articles, there are formidable barriers to providing open access for books in ways that do not discriminate against un- or under-funded historians (i.e. most of us!).  Nevertheless, there are some interesting experiments in open-access publishing for monographs and if you have an opportunity to take part in such experiments, without paying a publication fee, we encourage you to do so.  We’re happy to provide informal advice on this subject to people who email us about specific schemes.

Return to main ECH Open Access page

 

 

Credit: MikeAMorrison [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Publication & Open Access

 

The Royal Historical Society is actively engaged in ongoing debates about the future of arts and humanities publishing.

New Historical Perspectives

Our new Open-Access book series, New Historical Perspectives, is aimed at early career historians (with no publication fees for authors). Books are commissioned and edited by the RHS, and published by the Institute of Historical Research and the University of London. Find out more about the book series, and the first volumes, here.

The New Historical Perspectives series has a number of distinctive features:

  • published simultaneously in both hard copy and as fully Open-Access high-quality digital publications through the Humanities Digital Library, a new publishing platform from the University of London.
  • no fees for early career researchers publishing in the NHP series. The RHS and IHR will also advise on the correct licenses to ensure authors retain maximum control of their published works
  • includes a wide variety of different book types, including monographs, edited volumes, and shorter form works (such as those too long to be journal articles but not as long as traditional monographs).

Open Access Policy Work

We are engaging closely with wider debates about open access publishing:

  • October 2019: RHS Guidance Paper Plan S and the History Journal Landscape This report is designed to assist History and broader Humanities & Social Sciences stakeholders to understand and navigate the current policy frontiers of open access publishing for peer reviewed scholarly journals.
  • July 2019: Interim Working Paper Plan S and the Hybrid History Journal Landscape: a preliminary mapping of current preparedness for Plan S open access implementation among UK and international ‘hybrid’ History journals and designed to elicit further evidence, feedback and corrections for a more comprehensive analysis to be published in October 2019.
  • May 2019: response to the Updated Guidance on Plan S, available here.
  • April 2019: RHS published a Working Paper assessing the implications of Plan S compliance for history researchers, focusing particularly on those with Wellcome funding.
  • February 2019: we submitted a response to the consultation on the ‘Plan S’ open-access initiative, which is available here.
  • January 2019: publication of a briefing paper, call for evidence and interim report, available here.

Publishing and the Research Excellence Framework

In early 2018, the government announced that for REF2027 policies on open access journal articles would be extended to include monographs.

UK Scholarly Communications Licence

Read our briefing (March 2018): The UK Scholarly Communications Licence: What it is, and why it matters for the Arts & Humanities.

 

Information for Historians on the RCUK Open Access Policy

RCUK has announced the final version of its Open Access policy, which as from 1 April 2013 applies certain requirements to recipients of research-council funding (i.e. to recipients of postgraduate studentships, research fellowships and research grants from AHRC and ESRC). These requirements apply to all journal publications stemming from RCUK-funded research – any journal articles that would need to acknowledge RCUK support.

Open Access Information Sheet RHS

 

Plan S and History Journals

The Royal Historical Society (RHS) has published its new Guidance Paper on ‘Plan S and the History Journal Landscape’ (23 October 2019).

This report is designed to assist History and broader Humanities & Social Sciences stakeholders to understand and navigate the current policy frontiers of open access publishing for peer reviewed scholarly journals.

United Kingdom Research & Innovation (UKRI), the funding body that includes the seven UK research councils as well as Research England, is due to launch two public consultations on open access publication mandates in autumn 2019 and winter 2020.  This consultation process reflects UKRI’s membership of cOAlition S, a consortium of international funders established in 2018 which has articulated a new ‘Plan S’ mandate for open access publication.

The RHS report explains what cOAlition S and Plan S are, and why they matter to Humanities and Social Science researchers, journal editors and learned societies—among other stakeholders.  The report uses granular evidence of peer reviewed History journal publication to examine the potential impacts of Plan S implementation by UKRI.  The report is based on a summer 2019 RHS survey that attracted responses from 107 UK and international History learned society and proprietary journals.  Respondents included both self-publishing journals and journals published by 26 different university and commercial presses.  Additionally, the report uses data from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) to explore open access journal publication in History.

The RHS report notes the existence of a vibrant portfolio of open access peer-reviewed History journals, with especially strong representation in Spain, Portugal and Latin America.  However, these journals do not at present appear to be Plan S ‘compliant’.  More broadly, the report suggests that at present History researchers seeking Plan S compliant journals will find it very challenging, at multiple levels, to identify appropriate publications in which they can publish.

Journal editors are struggling with the complex and highly technical requirements mandated by Plan S.  Many are reluctant or unwilling to change their journals’ policies in response to Plan S.  The report identifies specific groups of researchers, including early career historians, for whom Plan S-aligned open access mandates may be problematic.

In the context of the forthcoming UKRI consultation, the report offers specific recommendations for:

  • History researchers (including early career historians)
  • journal editors and editorial boards
  • learned societies
  • research organisations
  • funders     

Download the full report.

If the goal of OA instead is to build sustainable scholarly systems which—at scale—are capable of both equitably producing and delivering high-calibre research publications to an expanding universe of users, alternative mechanisms to Plan S would surely be devised. These systems would recognise that no person or community can read everything and that different groups of readers and researchers rightly have different types of needs. Systematic investigation of what different communities of readers’ needs are and how they are best served is one of the most glaring gaps in cOAlition S Funders’ approach to OA. To rectify this anomaly, an optimal approach to OA would likely be hybrid—not simply in the sense of including ‘hybrid’ journals, but in recognising that meeting authors’ and readers’ constrained actual needs—in sharp contrast to fulfilling their imagined infinite needs—may require multiple or tailored delivery systems as well as a diversity of both incentives and mandates for those who produce and disseminate research outputs. This diversity would allow OA systems to accommodate the full range of discipline-based and interdisciplinary research and researchers. It would also foster rather than stifle innovation.

Margot Finn, President of the Royal Historical Society – from the report’s conclusion.