Cost Modelling Tool Now Available

Business chart by S Falkow CC BY NC 2.0

Business chart by S Falkow CC BY NC 2.0

This cost modelling tool is intended to be used to help establish an internal business case to set up an APC fund for Open Access publishing. It allows you to model different cost projections based on variables such as FTE, number of articles, REF submission targets, and % Green vs Gold OA.

There are two Excel files available: one is blank and the other contains sample values to show a worked example and so that you can get an idea of the kinds of results it provides.

JISC OA Cost Model Version 0.17 Example

JISC OA Cost Model Version 0.17 Blank

Both files include a Powerpoint Quickstart guide embedded within the home page. This steps you through the workflow and shows how to edit the various variables to customise your model.

The tool is a development of initial work undertaken Northumbria University in 2014 which led to the University Executive approving a £100K/annum internal fund for Gold Open Access costs.

We anticipate that this will be most useful to institutions which have received a lower/no block grant from RCUK, but there may be other use cases that we have not yet considered.

This is an interim version of the tool and it is still under development. Our Pathfinder would welcome any comments or questions about this tool in order to improve and widen usability.

Mark Harland, Senior Planning Analyst, and part of our Pathfinder team at Northumbria, has done most of the work on this tool. Please email mark.harland@northumbria.ac.uk or alternatively leave a comment on this blog post.

This tool is released under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

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OA Pathfinder Case Study: University of Hull

Over the past few months our Pathfinder has been busy travelling around to various HEIs and carrying out focus groups with key stakeholders in Open Access. The results of this work will be a series of case studies highlighting OA good practice in four HEIs with a range of different backgrounds. Each case study will focus on progress towards OA implementation across five broad areas:

  1. Costs
  2. Structure and Workflows
  3. Institutional Policy and Strategy
  4. Advocacy, training and awareness
  5. Systems and compliance

The first of these to be released is the University of Hull, and you can read it below or download it. Please do get in touch either via the discussion below this post, Twitter (@davidyoungres) or email (david.g.young@northumbria.ac.uk) if you have any questions or comments on this or the work of the Pathfinder.

Links to other case studies: Durham, Lincoln, Teesside

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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.

Dissemination

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.
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OA Pathfinder Workshop Report

At the end of October our Pathfinder, in collaboration with the Pathfinders led by the University of Hull and Coventry University, ran a full-day workshop on How to be innovative in Open Access with limited resources.

Participants

The event brought together representatives from 5 universities, most of which fall under the “modern university” heading. Among the attendees, backgrounds in open access and institutional responsibilities varied, with most attendees from a Library background, although three worked in central research offices:

  • Nick Woolley (Head of Academic Library Services, University of Northumbria, lead for Northumbria-Sunderland Pathfinder)
  • Barry Hall (Institutional Repository Coordinator, University of Sunderland)
  • Chris Awre (Head of Information Management, University of Hull, lead for HHuLOA Pathfinder)
  • Julie Bayley (Impact Manager, University of Coventry, project manager for 02OA Pathfinder)
  • Ellen Cole (Scholarly Publications Librarian, University of Northumbria)
  • Bev Jones (Research Repository and Information Officer, University of Lincoln)
  • David Young (Research Funding and Policy Manager, University of Northumbria)
  • Christine Downes (Research Support Coordinator, University of Northumbria)

It was a lively and engaging workshop and the smaller scale afforded more opportunity for detailed discussion and debate of the various issues.

You can read the full report for each of the three sessions on this blog:

Some pictures from the event are included below (yes, the cake was tasty!):

Draft Recommendations for Comment

At the end of the workshop we sketched out the following set of draft recommendations which we are publishing here for consideration and further comment from the sector, and in the spirit of the Jisc OA Pathfinder programme which is to “release outputs early and often”.

There are two sets of recommendations presented below, which are based on the discussions at the workshop: “Best Practice Recommendations” roughly comprises topics which would require modest to no additional resources to deliver (apart from time); “Sector Recommendations” comprises elements which require sector-level coordination to implement, possibly spearheaded by the Jisc OA Pathfinder Programme:

Best Practice Recommendations Sector Recommendations
Champions for OA among academic staff are relatively widespread, however we should consider OA champions among admin staff outside of Library, particularly front-line research office staff who have repeated interactions with academics throughout the research life cycle. OA week: current positioning conflicts with start of term and reduces engagement. Suggestion for alternative UK date in Spring. Possible OA event in April 2015 (one year to go until HEFCE REF policy).
Avoid vague “want to know more about OA?” messages. Focus on producing short guides explaining process, workflow, what to do when, and FAQs. Several groups are currently working with publishers around OA agenda (e.g. Jisc, RLUK). We need coordination here to avoid “divide and rule” tactics.
Currently many institutions have piecemeal policies addressing OA, impact, IPR. There would be value in having an overarching “dissemination strategy” incorporating all of the above. More guidance on support staff roles and levels for OA from HEFCE would be beneficial. This is along the lines of standards and guidelines produced by QAA for academic support.
Top-level webpages/intranet pages on OA – don’t split guidance between Library and Research Office. Everyone needs to be delivering the same message on OA Pathfinder coverage of licensing and rights – there may be a gap here and Jisc needs to ensure this is covered.
Create and disseminate template texts/OA slides for academics to use in departmental presentations about OA.
(Self-)publication/dissemination will always be the long-term goal. OJS workflow is similar to repository deposit. Some disciplines are more willing to make OA part of their working processes. Consider use of OJS in disciplines such as Law, where few OA options are available.
In advocacy it is important to focus on the benefits of OA generally, and not just REF/RCUK compliance issues. Otherwise you risk creating a “REF divide” and disengaging staff who are not being considered for REF submission.
Systems vs. Behaviour: expectation management is needed around the introduction of new systems (e.g. CRIS). No one system solves all problems. It’s crucial to focus on behaviour.

We would be grateful for comments and suggestions on these draft recommendations from other OA Pathfinders and the sector more widely. Please use the comments on this blog or send an email to David Young (david.g.young@northumbria.ac.uk).

Next steps and Collaboration

Going forward, we have invited all participants to contribute a case study of their institutional approach to OA, issues specific to each institution, and how they are addressing them. Interim versions of these will be released in Spring 2015, with the final versions in 2016. This aligns closely to the HHuLOA approach of capturing baseline data and updating this at regular intervals. Our Pathfinder is planning to contribute to this output for the HHuLOA Pathfinder.

In addition, Julie Bayley, project manager of the Coventry-led Pathfinder, is currently working on an intervention map, which will be a further joint output of the event.

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How have we responded to the challenges of Open Access? (OA Pathfinder Workshop – Session 1)

After Nick’s introduction, I facilitated the first of three activities, entitled: How have we responded to the challenges of Open Access?

Our intention here was to lead a group discussion beginning with an outline of what each representative felt had been the key issues in implementing OA at their institution. We then intended to examine the methods (successful and otherwise!) we’d employed to meet these demands, before concluding with an open-ended, hypothetical (but realistic) discussion about what resources could help with OA implementation in the future. To structure things a bit, we asked everyone to begin by noting each key issue they’d encountered on a post-it which were then displayed for all to see. (See below for a reconstruction of this – as it turns out, some colours aren’t as sticky as others!).

pathfinder7

As you can see, we later grouped the issues identified under the broad headings of ‘publishers’, ‘post REF2014’, ‘institutional roles’, ‘costs and resources’, ‘workflow and technical’, and ‘academic’, for the purposes of clarity.

It became apparent that the majority of issues (in our experience at least) relate to the practicalities of implementing OA, particularly given the limited funds available, and also to the engagement of academic staff. Workflows and infrastructure were key here, with most delegates expressing concerns over how best to efficiently meet the criteria of OA implementation in very real terms, particularly with regard to staffing.

pathfinder4

In terms of academic engagement, key issues were the discrepancy in OA awareness, occasional apathy, and a lack of understanding as to what exactly OA is.

pathfinder5

The conversation was very lively, and focussed primarily on the concept of ‘acceptance’ – what does it mean? How do we communicate this to academics? This led us to consider what resources would be needed to facilitate the (many) conversations that would need to take place. There was a consensus that facilitation engages people, and that this should be the direction in which advocacy goes, and that a universal, and positive message would be essential if compliance was to be achieved.

pathfinder3

The role of the research office was also discussed; that as well as the importance of academic champions, champions were also needed among research administrators who often do a lot of depositing and advocacy work. Similarly, the position of PVCs needed to be considered, with some advocacy targeted at the higher echelons of institutional structures. It was also pointed out that there is no national guidance regarding the expectations of funding bodies and OA policy: what roles are required? What about staffing levels? Where those staff would be positioned? Could this be something JISC could promote?

The discussion moved away from the constraints of our initial structure, but I think everyone agreed that this meant things developed naturally, and there was a consensus that a more structured response to OA was needed; perhaps in the form of a Research Dissemination Strategy. In summation, where additional funds are not necessarily available, awareness and facilitation is key; that future advocacy would need to provide advice on the post REF2014, funding, and OA publishing.

See below for a table that collates the issues we discussed:

Issues implementing OA

Read the other sections of this report here:

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How Have We Tried to Address OA Issues? (OA Pathfinder Workshop – Session 2)

The second session focused on how we have tried to address the issues identified in the first part of the workshop. We considered whether the methods used were effective, and how we might have responded more effectively as institutions, departments and individuals to the challenges posed by OA. We also thought ahead: how might these challenges develop, and will we still be dealing with the same issues in two years’ time, or will there be new agendas and problems?

OA Pathfinder address issues

The discussion ranged over several related areas, roughly these can be grouped under the following headings:

  • Policy and procedures: since OA policies came into force our awareness raising, advocacy and training has placed increasing emphasis on compliance with policy. We discussed the fact that we’d focused on compliance with the forthcoming REF policy in particular, but there’s a danger that this creates a “REF divide” particularly in universities with a growing research culture. Additionally, in some cases this has obscured other benefits of OA such as greater visibility and – potentially – impact. While this previously formed a key part of our advocacy work, many of us found that we now focus more on how to be compliant with policy. It may be that we need to rebalance this to stress the benefits of OA other than avoidance of sanctions. However, we also identified a potential benefit linked to REF, which was in understanding how we link open access to REF impact case studies as a way of highlighting impact (not just a way of linking to the REF).
  • Systems vs behaviour: information is stored in many different systems, and is frequently not shared between them. For example, Northumbria’s repository and grants management system store information about outputs and awards separately and there is no link between the two. Often the institutional response is to put another system in place to join the dots. From an academic perspective, this proliferation of systems and information frequently becomes “noise” which is ignored. For those institutions with a CRIS, this may be mitigated to some extent and indeed this has been behind a recent drive at Northumbria to procure a CRIS. However, there is no system available which will do everything we want. We need to be cautious not to seek technical solutions without also carefully considering user behaviour.
  • Disciplinary differences: There was some discussion about whether, in our work to promote OA, we had favoured STEM disciplines, as OA is typically more embedded in STEM subjects. There is more journal publishing, and therefore an individual academic may encounter OA processes 4-6 times per year which means they are more likely to remember how the processes work, who to contact etc. Humanities and social sciences academics may only experience the OA workflow once every year or couple of years. These different needs and levels of understanding must to be taken into account.
  • Training and support: It was recognised that, by now, research support services (Library, Research Offices, Faculty/School/College research administration) generally have a good collective pool of knowledge about OA processes and procedures. However, this may be patchy and some areas may know more than others. The routes into this knowledge for academics are various: they may attend a 30 minute training session (Northumbria’s Library run sessions like these twice per year at a Researcher Development Week in November and May). We need to get better at signposting and knowing where people should go. Who knows what? It was suggested that generic “Want to know more about OA?” messages on promotional material for academics were less effective than straightforward directions and advice (e.g. first do this, then this, or FAQs). In addition, we need to make better connections between our OA/repository training and IPR, copyright and rights management. If there are no other Pathfinders working on rights management we need to flag this to Jisc.

This sets out where we are now. It also provided a starting point for the third session of the day, on what practical steps we can take to address the issues arising from this discussion.

In addition, Julie Bayley (Project Manager of the Coventry-led Pathfinder, O2OA) is taking forward a separate piece of work to create an “intervention map” based on the areas identified here and in the previous session. The idea is to turn problems into positive change statements in order to fill the communication space around OA with “good” messages.

Read the other sections of this report here:

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How could we address OA issues in the future? (OA Pathfinder Workshop – Session 3)

After earlier sessions identifying existing issues in OA and how we, both within our institutions and in the broader HE community, have responded, the third session of the workshop provided participants with the opportunity to discuss what we could do in the future. Participants were asked to think hypothetically, about what we could do without focusing too much on our current strategic or operational planning, but still realistically. This generated ideas that are in our power to enact, rather than relying on external factors such as receiving further funding or staff resource.

photo (3)

We identified a few key issues that will impact on how we move forward.  OA support services tend to be based in the library, as they grew organically around institutional repositories. This means that though often the role of the library in supporting OA is, in team descriptions or service plans, quite technical and focused on repository administration or management of Open Access funds, the staff working on these services are often called upon to offer advice or guidance. If this is already happening, we wondered if more libraries should formalise this, working in collaboration with our research offices or other services involved in supporting research, to offer advice on publication choices. If so, should we step in and provide advice on areas academic staff often enquire about, such as negotiating publishing contracts or licences to publish?

Though acknowledging that we are in a good position, we also felt there are things we could do better. In communicating with research active staff we have used vague “want to know more about OA?” messages, which require the individual to recognise there is a gap in their knowledge to take up whatever offer is attached to this message. Though HEFCE, RCUK et al. have given us the opportunity to talk more about OA, our messages have become focused on compliance and penalties rather than the benefits and overall purpose of OA. Some suggested actions included:

  • Creating top-level webpages about open access, instead of information being split between library or research office pages. Though each will offer different support, it’s confusing to people seeking advice to have to make this distinction before seeking information. This can be difficult considering how websites are set up in Universities (for example, at Northumbria the library’s webpages are completely removed from the CMS), but we can certainly make efforts to link to other sources of information or signpost other services.
  • Use fewer vague “want to know more” messages and instead clearly communicate with positive messages about what to do at each stage of the publication process. “When your paper has been accepted, do this…” FAQs and step-by-step instructions are practical ways of communicating about OA, addressing the gap in knowledge.
  • Communicate the principles and benefits of Open Access, not just the rules and regulations. This helps address the ‘REF divide’, where staff may feel that if they are not REF-able either OA doesn’t apply to them or we’re not interested in helping them disseminate their work.

We could also change our approach to training and development. Instead of targeting just the academic staff, we should look at the information we give to everyone with a stake in OA and OA support services. This could include offering training for faculty administrators, personal assistants and research students, each of whom may be involved in the administrative side of submitting for publication, paying fees or depositing to a repository. We should also look at the information give to front line library staff. Often OA services are office based and operate 9-5, Monday-Friday. Making sure customer service or enquiry staff have a basic understanding of OA and the services on offer could be hugely beneficial, making sure anyone unaware of direct lines of contact can go to a service desk and leave with basic information about what to do next. Academic staff should also feel empowered to talk about OA in departmental or faculty meetings, and we could make this easier by providing template texts or slides for them to use in their own presentations or reports

We identified some areas for our institutions to act on, that may be beyond our own remit, but that we could have some part in influencing.  Clear top-level guidance would help remove some of the uncertainty among academics about what they’re expected to do and why, and we felt that open access policy should sit within an institutional research dissemination strategy that addressed research impact and visibility. Ideally this strategy would also cover intellectual property and rights management, to create a fully joined-up approach to publication and dissemination.

Finally, we talked about what could be done nationally, with support from external stakeholders. One issue that came up throughout the day was that discussion with publishers, who are also new to OA and can be unclear on the policies and services they advertise, has been fragmented. Though we often share information we’ve been provided by publishers via Jiscmail mailing lists for the benefit of the community, there is still a lot of rework in communicating at this level. A more coordinated approach and greater transparency on the negotiations we’ve done regarding fees or repository deposit would be beneficial.

Through discussion on Jiscmail mailing lists in the lead up to Open Access week, it became clear that a few institutions don’t engage with the international awareness week as it does not fit in with the academic calendar. We suggested a national awareness week at another time of year, with April 2015 put forward as a good candidate.

Read the other sections of this report here:

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OA Pathfinder Workshop

Just a quick update: we’re running a small workshop today (27th October) at Northumbria University with representatives from two other Pathfinder projects (representatives from 5 HEIs in total will be participating) on “How to be innovative with limited resources”. We’ll post a full report afterwards.

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Responses to RCUK calls for evidence on OA implementation

Royal KMM Magic Margin Typewritter by Seth Morabito CC BY-SA 2.0

Royal KMM Magic Margin Typewritter by Seth Morabito CC BY-SA 2.0

Northumbria University has recently contributed to a number of sector-wide responses to the RCUK independent review on open access implementation. Our contributions reflect and have been influenced by the work we are undertaking on this Pathfinder project.

Below are links (where available) and short extracts from each response:

ARMA:

  • “ARMA welcomes the commitment by RCUK to the implementation of open access (OA) and continues to support their work on this.
  • Guidance and clarification from RCUK is welcomed by the research support community as a result of this review.
  • There needs to be greater coordination and coherence of policy between research councils, RCUK and publishers as currently, varying requirements are difficult to navigate, resulting in administrative burden, misinterpretation and additional cost.
  • RCUK, together with stakeholders, should seek the facilitation of discussion groups between publishers and those seeking to publish in accordance with RCUK requirements. Further discussion is needed on issues relating to Article Processing Charges (APC), embargos and routes to Green and Gold publication.
  • RCUK should work with stakeholders to seek a reduction in the costs involved for open access, in particular relating to administration.”

University Alliance*:

“…Our discussions highlighted that there is strong support for Open Access (OA). Recent mandates from RCUK and Hefce have given the issue serious traction particularly amongst senior management and university administrators. Universities are reporting significant progress being made in establishing internal processes, although it is early days and many have requested more time to embed OA fully in university processes.”

* Report not yet published, but permission granted to reproduce this short extract.

Jisc:

“…Higher Education Institutions now need to manage APC payments on a large scale, which is a new role that has raised numerous complications.  The policy has also increased the importance of existing administrative processes, such as attribution of funder in research outputs… [HEIs] welcome the commitment the RCUK policy makes to OA. Some institutions have noted that a calculation of the block grant for OA based on retrospective data challenges those with expanding research portfolios, and reduces the usefulness of that grant in implementing the RC policy.”

UKCoRR*:

“…APC payment processes have been very time consuming whilst library staff are having to deal with multiple individual publishers for multiple individual requests. The potential support staff costs are considerable when scaled up to full compliance.  Many publishers continue to have complex multi-step processes to request open access for an article requiring a number of forms to be completed by the researcher, which often duplicate forms they have been asked to complete previously.  There continues to be a great deal of chasing that is required to usher an article through the process both for staff at the institution and for publishers.”

* Report not yet published, but will be available shortly on the UKCoRR website.
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Pathfinder Update

Looking Back by Dr Wendy Longo CC BY-ND 2.0

Looking Back by Dr Wendy Longo CC BY-ND 2.0

We’re now just over three months into our Jisc OA Pathfinder project and it’s a good time to reflect on the progress we’ve made so far against our Project Plan as well as looking ahead to what’s in store over the coming months.

As a starting point, it’s worth restating our project aim: “We will develop shared tools and best practice policies and procedures to enable HEIs with limited external funding to effectively and creatively respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by recent Open Access policies.”

Working together

Way back in June/July there was a series of events which collectively kicked off the Jisc Pathfinder programme. The first was the inaugural meeting of the Open Access Implementation Community, which is a Jisc-hosted gathering of primarily library and research office colleagues who have some responsibility for setting and implementing open access policy in their institutions.

At the event each Pathfinder was asked to do a short (“lightning”) presentation of their project. This was incredibly useful as it enabled us to start to get a sense of where our project fits within the programme and where there are overlaps and potential synergies with other projects.

Following this my colleague, Ellen Cole, attended the first Programme Meeting on behalf of our Pathfinder. Here the theme of working together was picked up and a number of alignments between the projects were highlighted.

One of the first priorities for us following these events was to identify partners to work with us to build case studies – one of the key outputs of our project. In our bid, we had planned to hold a first case study workshop in September, but this clashed with various other Pathfinder events and it made sense to align our workshop with the plans of other Pathfinder projects. We therefore deferred the workshop until late October and are now in the planning stages, following initial discussions with the Hull and Coventry-led Pathfinders. The Hull and Coventry-led Pathfinder projects are both focusing on complementary areas – Hull’s HHuLOA project looks at how OA can further research development at partner institutions, while Coventry’s O2OA focuses on understanding the requirements to implement OA in a modern university setting.

Like us, both of these projects have been carrying out some form of “baselining” (i.e. working out where they are currently and what the key issues are in order to address their project objectives). For us, some of this analysis has focused on our institutional repositories – which have been central in driving forward the OA agenda at our respective institutions. At our workshop we will build on this to explore questions around setting and implementing institutional OA policy in a modern university, and how we can go beyond compliance with limited external funding for OA.

A balancing act?

Our project team has also been busy designing a methodology for our case study work package. Part of this was assessing our current situation – as mentioned above – but we have also used the opportunity presented to us by this year’s Repository Fringe in Edinburgh to test the water a little and see how HEIs and other stakeholders are responding to OA at a strategic, institutional-level. As one of the OA Pathfinders, we were asked to run a short session introducing our project to the delegates (a mix of library professionals, developers, publishers, and funders).

Our workshop focused on a few key questions which have arisen from our project team’s initial discussions as well as the work that we’ve already undertaken around open access advocacy and policy development:

  1. In our institutional OA policymaking, do we aim to strike an “optimal balance” between Green and Gold OA, or do we favour one over the other?
  2. Do all stakeholders in our institutions see this the same way as us?
  3. As institutions with limited resources to address the challenges posed by OA, can we use these policies to positively influence other aspects of our institutional culture, e.g. publishing behaviour?

The workshop provided some expected and some unexpected answers to these questions. It also helped to highlight many common themes and issues which are shared by a variety of stakeholders. The full report includes a summary and commentary on the findings – as well as copious pictures of coloured post-it notes!

Compliance and evidence

It’s been a busy time in our universities over the past few weeks, with preparations for the beginning of the new term. Those of us with an open access remit have been especially busy contributing to a number of reports and consultation documents primarily linked to the RCUK compliance monitoring report (due on the 12th September) and their related call for evidence on implementing the RCUK OA policy.

I’ll be writing another post about the various sector-wide consultation responses we have contributed to. For Northumbria, putting together the RCUK OA compliance report presented challenges in terms of linking ouputs and funding data. We have certainly made significant progress this year – an OA policy has been officially agreed by the University Executive, and this is supported by a significant internal OA APC fund. However, we still have work to do to make the whole OA lifecycle work smoothly.

What’s next?

  • Our project workshop in late-October will bring together 6-8 institutions with complementary aims to explore the challenges of implementing OA in a modern university setting. This will be the starting point of the case studies which will become a key output of the project.
  • We will start to look at cost modelling for OA, which will likely include further collaboration with another Pathfinder. Watch this space for more details.
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