Since November 2012, History UK has been active in the campaign to ensure that the Open Access publishing requirements of funding bodies (particularly in the Research Excellence Framework) are compatible with the patterns of scholarship in the discipline, enabling the fruits of historians’ labours to be shared more widely rather than obstructing those labours.

HEFCE have finalised their Open Access Policy for REF 2020. The main points are:

  • Notice period ends April 2016, all publications prior to that are exempt.
  •  It only applies to Journals and Conference Proceedings  (and the definition of conference proceedings that exempts some conferences).
  •  Green Route Embargos of 24 months for Panel C and D (including history).
  • Licences: CCBY-NC-ND is acceptable and this is made explicit in the guidance. This opens up options.
  • They have not adopted quotas and will use case by case exemptions to their policy.
  •  There is an interesting safeguard for academic freedom and international publication in point 37. An output can make a case for exemption if ‘The publication concerned actively disallows open-access deposit in a repository, and was the most appropriate publication for the output.’

Doubtless there are devils in the detail and more discussion to come in the future. Please contact Andrew Dilley with any comments.

The History UK Open Access Publishing Policy

1. Open Access Publishing Commons Submission

HistoryUK supports in principle moves to make historical publications as widely accessible as possible. However it is essential that Open Access requirements do not jeopardise valuable publications. In February HistoryUK submitted evidence to the House of Commons BIS Committee’s Enquiry into open access publishing, pointing out the dangers of the ‘gold route’ emphasised in the Finch Report. We argued that the Green route was essential to preserve academic freedom, on grounds of cost, and to better serve the interests of early career researchers. We also pointed out the problems of restraining international publication and that monographs were not yet ready for Open Access requirements.

2. Open Access Publishing Survey Results

The ongoing discussion of open access publishing and its implications for historians, and other humanities and social sciences, has often taken place without a significant evidential base. In February 2013 HistoryUK conducted two surveys of scholars and departments to collate data on publication patterns and hence better understand the impacts of open access. Amongst our findings, we discovered that historians produce on average 3 journal articles every four years, that 37% of articles are published outside the UK, and that 72% of those now employed as research active historians secured their first publication in a Journal.

3. Open Access Consultation

In March 2013 HEFCE launched a pre-consultation on incorporating an Open Access requirement in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) for 2020. HistoryUK’s response emphasised the need for a workable version of the ‘Green route’ with long embargos, full consideration of the predicaments facing early career researchers, clear exemptions of categories of material where OA presents a problem (including international publications) and opposed the inclusion of monographs and Open Data. Our response can be read here.

4. History UK Open Access Publishing Consultation Response, October 2013

In October 2013 HistoryUK responded to HEFCE’s second consultation on Open Access Publishing. HEFCE’s proposals now only apply to journal articles and conference proceedings. Our response emphasised the need for 24-36 month embargos to make the Green route work, the problems of placing barriers to international publication, the dilemmas facing early career researchers, and continuing concerns over the implications of CC-BY type licenses. We also pressed for quick decisions on the nature of OA requirements so scholars and departments can get on with writing and publishing excellentresearch. The sector now awaits the outcome of the Consultation.

5. History UK Open Access Policy

In November 2012 the HistoryUK Plenary agreed an Open Access policy which welcomed Open Access in principle while noting a number of areas of concern at the direction of travel (especially the privileging of the gold route) which emerged following the Finch Report.

Small Grants Consultation in light of the withdrawal of the British Academy Small Grants scheme, 2011

In 2011, the Convener asked UK history departments about ‘normal’ expectations regarding funding for research-active staff to attend conferences or visit archives. This was in light of the withdrawal of the British Academy Small Grants scheme. HistoryUK and the British Academy jointly campaigned, using this survey, to overturn the decision. Ultimately the government spared the scheme, albeit in a slimmer form.

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