UK's OA Policy Influences Research Assessment

Neil Jacobs | Research Information | August 11, 2014

The UK’s system for assessing research and allocating money has added new open-access requirements. Neil Jacobs looks at what this means for researchers in the UK and elsewhere

The four UK higher education funding bodies use the Research Excellence Framework to assess the quality of research in UK universities. The system is also used to allocate funding so universities in the UK – and their researchers – need to pay close attention to any changes made to the framework.

One of the requirements for submission to the next framework is that journal articles (and many conference papers) will need to be deposited into a repository at the point of acceptance and made open access within defined embargo periods. However, these requirements are about more than compliance with a funder’s open-access policy. They are about the roles, rights and responsibilities of researchers, institutions and publishers in the digital age, and the opportunities to which they give rise.

A key feature of the REF policy, one that has aroused some discussion, is its focus on the point at which a paper is accepted for publication. Traditionally, this has been a moment shared only between journal and author. This moment happened at the end of a peer-review process, which would have both improved and assured the quality of the paper (periodic controversies notwithstanding)...