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19 October 2022
OASPA Open Letter to UKRI in response to the UKRI Open Access Review Consultation

  It is an enormous challenge for OASPA, as an organisation with nearly 150 members, to give a group response that can address specific points within the policy consultation, such as the level of challenge in complying, financial implications, or when the policy should take effect, for example. Our members represent a wide diversity of open access models: some are fully open access but would like to see a more level playing field; some are small and perhaps not able to quickly implement new technical standards; some are actively transitioning to open access but are constrained in the speed by which that can happen; and some fully open access members may be in disciplines which don’t see the same funding and infrastructure support and development as others.

  We value the diversity of models and approaches to open access within our membership and we strive to help ensure a landscape where this variety of approaches can exist together, giving researchers choice and flexibility in where they can openly share their work. We have gathered feedback from our members and it is clear that all OASPA members are committed to advancing open access. However, they are at different points along a spectrum and are following different routes to a future in which open is the predominant model of publication. This makes it difficult to provide short and singular responses to many of the questions posed in the UKRI consultation.

  There are overarching principles and standards that OASPA sets as an organisation and to which members agree we can aspire to, even if there are varying degrees to which members commit to all of those things now. The criteria and values of OASPA have always been to set a ‘gold standard’ to aim for, with openness, transparency and integrity being at the core. These are therefore the things we, as the only publishing association specifically dedicated to open access, ask you to prioritise when setting any open access policy:

  The Version of Record is ultimately what we should all be striving for full open access to. Particularly in light of a future state of open research in which we need to link different outputs, it will be the Version of Record that is critical for open access. We seek to support researchers and to make it as easy as possible for them to publish their Version of Record open access, in such a way that follows best practices and preserves the integrity of scholarship.

  Appropriate funding of full open access is necessary, both to include those with fully open access portfolios, as well as the full OA titles at mixed model . OASPA supports and encourages the exploration and implementation of any business model that enables immediate open access. UKRI should actively support and provide funds to explore the effectiveness and implementation of different business models, including the APC/BPC model but also other cooperative funding mechanisms, including institutional and funder partnership models across all disciplines, but especially in the humanities, arts and social sciences. The ‘long tail’ of needs support in particular if we are to most effectively ensure a diverse, vibrant, and healthy open access market for the future.

  OASPA requires members to be transparent about author fees (whether they charge them or not) and other funding streams, to provide clear information on their processes and the services an author can expect, and that all such information must be easy to find on the publisher website.

  Members of OASPA acknowledge a common interpretation of Open Access publishing that includes the following components:

  The dissemination of peer-reviewed manuscripts containing original research or scholarship immediately upon publication, at no charge to user groups, without requiring registration or other access barriers.

  Copyright holders allow users to “copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship…” in the case of journals.

  Whilst the CC BY license is most compatible with the above definition of open-access and is strongly encouraged by OASPA, our membership criteria for journals permit the use of the non-commercial restriction where there are compelling reasons to do so. Books who are members of OASPA shall also strive to adhere as much as possible to the reuse principles above. OASPA recognises, however, that in some fields the application of the most liberal licenses may be difficult and as such other licensing practices may be considered acceptable.

  OASPA recommends that authors should be required to retain copyright for outputs which are open access at the time of publication.

  OASPA’s position is to apply the same driving principles to metadata as for text, with the ultimate aim that it is open access (and ‘FAIR’ – findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) and so we support aiming for the technical standards proposed in the policy.

  We encourage alignment of funder policies wherever possible. Funder policy support is a key driver for the spread of open access which will benefit the entire research community and the public. The proposed policy will build on the previous (RCUK) policy to further increase the openness of UK publicly funded research.

  OASPA urges UKRI to provide resources (new or existing) with clear information and guidance to authors on the benefits of open access to support their policy and help institutions. This would be beneficial for all disciplines and types of output.

  Financial support for essential infrastructure is crucial, both to enable publishing itself and also to support the required technical standards. In addition, new initiatives such as our OA Switchboard will be of benefit to address the growing complexity of open access strategies across business models, policies and agreements between , institutions and funders as open access uptake increases.

  While we understand that UKRI stated at the outset that a reform of research evaluation practices is not in the scope of the open access policy review, we strongly believe that this will be critical to address as a priority if we are to enable authors to take full advantage of the full suite of open access publishing options and, ultimately, will enhance the success of the policy in the longer term.