Pathfinder Update 2

Magnified by Jake Bouma CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Magnified by Jake Bouma CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Time has flown by since our last update, and the open access landscape has moved on too! We’re now just over a year away from the date at which HEFCE’s policy on open access in the next REF comes into force (1st April 2016). Meanwhile, RCUK have been monitoring compliance with their own OA policy and how institutions have spent any block grants they were given. And scholarly publishing has shifted to some extent in response, with recent related announcements from Elsevier, Nature Publishing Group and Royal Society Journals on giving ‘free’ (though not necessarily open or long-term) access to content.

Both Northumbria and Sunderland have been busy responding to these developments with a mixture of analysis, advocacy, awareness raising, training and technical work behind the scenes. This activity has both informed and been informed by our continued participation in the Jisc Pathfinder programme.

Our project has been making progress on our objectives in the following areas:

  1. OA Workshop: How to be innovative in open access with limited resources
  2. Case studies: OA practice at a range of institutions
  3. Cost modelling: Planning various future costing scenarios around OA
  4. Dissemination: Getting the message out about our work

OA Workshop

OA Pathfinder 4Back in October we held a small workshop in Newcastle with representatives from five universities: Hull, Lincoln, Coventry, Sunderland and Northumbria. The aim was to bring together a small group with mixed job roles, all with some responsibility around open access. The universities mainly reflected the “modern” part of the sector and most have limited external funding to address the challenges posed by OA.

The outputs from this event was a series of reports published on this blog about key issues and how they have been addressed so far. We also put together a draft set of best practice recommendations, which we will be developing in our other work packages.

Case Studies

Larkin statue by John Lord CC BY 2.0

Larkin statue by John Lord CC BY 2.0

Leading on from this event, our team is arranging visits to these institutions and others to carry out semi-structured, multi-disciplinary group discussions. to get a richer understanding of their various approaches and structures, the problems they face and the lessons we can all learn in how to creatively respond to open access challenges.

The project formed a sub-group in January to plan these visits and the case studies which will emerge from them. The case study sub-group identified five thematic areas around which to structure our group discussions:

  • Costs
  • Structure and workflows
  • Policy and strategy
  • Advocacy and training
  • Metadata and systems

The purpose of these visits is to bring together a multi-disciplinary group of stakeholders (e.g. library, academic, research funding, policy managers, finance) to positively discuss potential solutions to these issues and what works and doesn’t work in their own institutions.

Our first visit was 9th March 2015 to Hull University (hence the picture of the Larkin statue!), and we have plans in place to visit Lincoln, Durham, Teesside, and Coventry over the next month. Interim case study outputs will start to appear here by early April, and the intention is that these will be ‘living’ documents, updated over the remainder of the project and finalised with a follow-up visit/workshop next year.

Cost modelling

Anyone Understand Spreadsheets by Simon James CC BY-SA 2.0

Anyone Understand Spreadsheets by Simon James CC BY-SA 2.0

A sub-group has also been formed to plan and carry out work on the shareable cost modelling tool. This will be an Excel-based tool which institutions can use to model different scenarios with respect to open access in order to make better informed, strategic decisions on policies and funding.

An initial meeting has come up with the following draft scope for the tool, which will be further refined as the model is iteratively developed and tested, first internally and then externally and openly:

  • All institutions are likely to have targets and/or projections for number of REF­able articles per annum in future, so this can be used in the model by all institutions.
  • Model could use global average APC or average for each REF Panel
  • Subscription­ related discounts/vouchers should be accounted for in average APC calculation
  • Model could be used to make case for increased APC funding (as for Northumbria) or could be used to make case for more green OA and/or institution­ published OA journals.
  • Model could include targets for RCUK ­funded articles.
  • Model could be used to show difference between RCUK estimated average APC cost and actual APC costs.


Open Access Week 2013 by slubdresden CC BY 2.0

Open Access Week 2013 by slubdresden CC BY 2.0

Our project team feels strongly about the need to disseminate our work as widely as possible and so we are looking at multiple options to ensure the message is clearly communicated.

We’re part of a joint-Pathfinder session at ARMA 2015 in Brighton in June. Four projects will be represented and we’ll be giving a broad overview of the work taking place across the Programme. I’ll be talking about OA at modern universities. There will also be sections on advocacy, costs, and workflows/technical enhancements. We will leave plenty of time (~30 mins) for a thorough Q&A at the end.

We’ll also be considering events next year including the CILIP Conference, Open Repositories, COAR-SPARC, Scholarly Publishers Association and UKSG.

What’s next?

  • Interim case studies will start to be released over the next month.
  • Early versions of the cost modelling tool will also be circulated for further refinement and development.
  • We will host an internal workshop to start developing our best practice guidelines and procedures in May 2015.
  • Later this year we will begin work on interactive workflows.

About David Young

I'm a Research Funding & Policy Manager based in Research & Business Services at Northumbria University. I support research funding bids to a range of funders, focusing on the Faculty of Engineering and Environment. I also support a number of research policy areas across the university: open access, research data management, CRIS, research strengths, and REF impact.
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1 Response to Pathfinder Update 2

  1. Pingback: Pathfinder Update 3 | Optimising resources to develop a strategic approach to Open Access

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