Open Access at Northumbria University

I’ve worked at Northumbria University since January 2011 and have seen many changes to how we ‘do’ Open Access. This is an attempt to summarise where we are with our systems, policies and governance, in another post I’ll talk about how we work with researchers to support their OA endeavours.

Though Northumbria researchers have pursued OA by other means, our efforts as a University have mostly centred around our institutional repository, Northumbria Research Link (NRL). NRL has been around since 2008 in a number of guises and is now a key part of the research workflow at Northumbria and central to our efforts to deliver OA.

NRL currently contains 12946 records, 25% have full text attached. Of our 6305 journal articles, 24% have full text attached. In addition to mediating deposits to NRL, the Scholarly Publications Team (me and 3 Scholarly Publications Assistants) has recently been administering the payment of article processing charges (APCs), and preparing for the implementation of our new University Open Access policy, which mandates the deposit of accepted author manuscripts  to NRL and provides institutional funds for the payment of APCs where funder policy requires or where seen as advantageous by the faculty.

In my view, these are key issues in the development of OA at Northumbria:

  • The repository is central to the research lifecycle, with metadata re-used in multiple research administration systems. Our researchers use an online Personal Research and Innovation Plan (PRIP) to compile their recent research activities and plan their future activities. Details of their published work are harvested from NRL, so the researcher must deposit in NRL to ensure their research is reviewed in the PRIP process. This has perhaps diluted the OA function of the repository, but provides a great opportunity to start talking to researchers about OA.
  • Using NRL metadata for institutional purposes (the REF2014 submission, PRIP) has provided us with a rich data set to use to analyse our research activity. This enabled us to create detailed cost models for a range of scenarios to deliver OA, ranging from the cost of simply making everything available green and making everything available gold, with various positions in between, such as only making ‘REF-able’ items available in a gold format.
  • There’s a shared understanding that OA is about more than just compliance with funder policy, and could be a great opportunity for increasing access to our research. In turn, this could help meet our institutional goals of increased research impact. This has informed our decisions in formulating an OA policy: were we satisfied with an all-green route that may be fully policy-compliant, if paying an APC could lead to immediate, free, global access to our research, potentially increasing its reach and impact?
  • Cross-university partnerships have been crucial to the development of NRL and OA. Though services are often library-managed and administered, our accountability is to a much broader community, including both researchers and other support services.

The University has a growing research profile and aims to increase the volume and improve the quality of research, consultancy and scholarly activity. As external funding for OA – BIS ‘pump prime’ funds, RCUK block grants  – was provided based on previous research activity, there is a shortfall in this funding. The institutional fund is an attempt to address this, to ensure our researchers have the same options open to them as researchers at institutions in receipt of greater external funds. Another route to OA for our authors will be a new journal publishing platform managed by the University Library.

This is a really exciting, busy, time to be involved in research support at Northumbria. We have a lot to do, but there’s an appetite here, and with our project partner Sunderland, to come up with some creative solutions to the challenges OA presents.

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About Ellen Cole

Scholarly Publications Librarian at Northumbria University.
This entry was posted in About, Northumbria and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Open Access at Northumbria University

  1. Pingback: Open Access at Northumbria: the key issues | Northumbria Research Support

  2. Pingback: Pathfinder Update | Optimising resources to develop a strategic approach to Open Access

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