Project plan

Project aim

Tools by zzpza CC BY 2

Tools by zzpza CC BY 2.0

Our Jisc-funded Pathfinder will develop shared tools and best practice policies and procedures to enable HEIs with limited external resources to effectively and creatively respond to the challenges and opportunities that Open Access poses. In doing this we aim to maintain an optimal balance between Green and Gold and to reflect the views of our internal stakeholders (academic and support services) and external partners. We recognise that this initiative takes place in the context of a global movement towards OA and an impact agenda (in the widest sense) which places emphasis on securing value for money from public investment. Therefore, we wish to focus on developing extensible models, policies and procedures which go beyond compliance with OA funder policies to engage with and shape these wider debates.


  1. Develop a customisable OA modelling tool to allow a wide range of HEIs to produce a tailored cost model to assist internal policy and investment decisions.
  2. Develop four case studies reflecting the experience and responses of four representative institutions, including lessons learned so far in implementing OA, how funds have been deployed to implement OA policies (if any), and the balance of internal/external funding for OA.
  3. Develop and share best practice policy, workflow and procedures drawing on the modelling evidence from Objective 1, case studies in Objective 2, emerging sector standards and funder mandates.
  4. Design a quick-reference decision tree and clearly presented supporting materials to guide authors and support staff through the policy and process.

Final outputs

This project will develop shared tools and best practice policies and procedures to enable higher education institutions with limited external funding to effectively and creatively respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by recent Open Access policies. Outputs include a customisable Open Access cost modelling tool to help HEIs better plan different scenarios of research growth, best practice policies and workflows for University libraries and research services, case studies profiling lessons learned by four HEIs, and a quick reference decision tree for researchers and support staff.

Customisable OA cost modelling tool
Excel-based tool to model potential institutional costs of OA, drawing on data from repository records, REF, publisher APCs, and proportion of research income which mandates OA. Scenarios will take into account typical and likely future publication practice as well as funder policies. Outputs will be data to include in reports to support University decision making on OA.

Four open access case studies
Case studies will be developed in association with four HEIs, seeking views in particular of Library, Research Services and Senior Management. Case studies will cover 1) institutional policies and resources in support of OA; 2) workflows and procedures; 3) lessons learned

Best practice policy and procedures
Drawing on lessons learned from the case studies, we will create a set of annotated policy and procedure documents to enable research managers and librarians to more easily put systems in place in support of OA.

Aggregated data on block grant publication funds for HEIs
Excel spreadsheet populated with data on block grants alongside a survey of of 20-25 HEIs on how these have been used.

Decision-tree and quick ref guides
Produced as interactive online tutorials (see for examples)

Project workshop
Workshop will reflect the overall approach of co-production with associate and case study partners. All members of the OAIC group will be invited to attend and other projects will be given an opportunity to present findings

Final project report
Outputs and outcomes from the project as well as lessons learned.

Wider benefits to sector and for host institution

The recent introduction of OA requirements for outputs funded through RCUK and EC grants, as well as HEFCE’s REF OA policy, means that publishing in a Gold open access format may be required in certain circumstances. As the block grants to support Gold OA provided from RCUK were calculated based on previous research activity, Northumbria’s RCUK block grant for OA was far below the estimated cost of making all RCUK funded research in 2012 available via Gold OA. Our own ambitious growth targets for research activity in the run up to the next REF will likely mean that we remain significantly underfunded for the next few years. A similar situation pertains in many post-92 institutions which are seeking to grow research activity and quality.

Northumbria has already taken positive steps to address the challenges we face, setting up a cross-University OA working group, modelling a set of scenarios to guide investment decisions and developing policies internally which have recently been agreed by the University Executive and led to the establishment of a substantial internal fund for OA implementation. We are also proactively engaged in external networks (e.g. ARMA, CILIP, UKCoRR, North East Repositories Group) to ensure our team is aware of the latest developments in policy and the sector response. Developing a creative, agile and sustainable response to the challenges posed by OA will mean we need to build on the work we have already done in this area.

The project aims to share the lessons we have learned in this area as well as learning from other institutions facing the same challenges. We will take an open, collaborative and co-production approach in this project through case study development with project partners. We will publish draft versions of our findings, reports and guidance as we are preparing them on this blog. We will encourage comments and feedback on our policies and procedures as they are being developed in real time via Google Drive or equivalent wiki-based collaborative editing platforms where feasible.

Project team

The project team will comprise the Project Director, the Project Manager and OA leads from associate partners. The project team will meet monthly for the duration of the project and work together as required by each workpackage.

Nick Woolley (Project Director)
Head of Academic Library Services, Northumbria University

David Young (Project Manager)
Research Funding and Policy Manager, Northumbria University

Ellen Cole (Project Officer)
Scholarly Publications Librarian, Northumbria University

Barry Hall (Project Officer)
Repository Manager, Sunderland University

Tony Barrass (Business Analyst)
Senior Business Analyst, Northumbria University

Projected timeline

Jisc project timeline 2


About Ellen Cole

Scholarly Publications Librarian at Northumbria University.
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