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Open in Action

Over a decade has passed since the Budapest Open Access Initiative and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access. A bystander could be forgiven for thinking that the level of discussion and the apparent differences in position across higher education institutions, publishing houses, laboratories, conference halls, funder headquarters, and government buildings must mean that progress has been limited. As such this year’s International Open Access Week (OA Week), with a theme of ‘Open in Action’, is a good time to reflect on what is happening with open access; what is being developed, the changes which are being introduced, and the systems which are being implemented to help open content up. Progress has been more significant than is often appreciated and there continues to be practical and constructive engagement with options, policies, and infrastructure. For Oxford University Press (OUP) OA Week coincides with another development in our support for open access. At the end of September 2016 OUP started to register DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) on article acceptance, rather than on publication, and began to provide authors with enhanced metadata to facilitate compliance with open access mandates, notably the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) open access policy.

HEFCE’s policy requires authors to deposit their Accepted Manuscript in an institutional repository within three months of their article being accepted by a journal, on the understanding that the article will remain closed until a specified embargo period has elapsed. From 1 April 2016, authors from UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) need to comply with the policy’s terms in order to make their research outputs eligible for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF), making easy compliance crucial.

The HEFCE policy aligns itself with standard embargo periods of 12 months for STM subjects and 24 months for HSS areas, however the need for authors to deposit their articles on acceptance introduces a new layer of compliance requirements and a new layer of complexity given most other policies have focused on the date of publication. Institutions have grappled with the need to develop workflows which will allow them to accommodate a future ‘deposit on acceptance’ requirement, and although HEFCE did respond to institutional feedback and subsequently allow for a grace period of one year during which authors can move to compliance by depositing on article publication, some UK HEIs (such as Oxford and Cambridge for example) have already launched campaigns to encourage their authors to deposit articles into their repositories on acceptance.

This year’s International Open Access Week, with a theme of ‘Open in Action’, is a good time to reflect on what is happening with open access

At OUP we have looked at how we can help with these new requirements and whether there are options to reduce institutional and individual pain points for compliance. We have amended internal and external systems to ensure that authors have the information they require when looking to comply with the HEFCE policy. And we’ve done so in a way which we hope will be transferable to many other funder requirements worldwide.

OUP believe that registering DOIs on acceptance and encouraging authors to deposit this with their repository record will improve linking between their Accepted Manuscript and the Version of Record, ensuring that readers will be able to locate the source publication of content they discover in a repository. The early registered DOI will be issued to authors in an email on acceptance, along with other bibliographic information including self-archiving information, any applicable embargo period, and the official acceptance date of the article. We understand that whilst many of our UK based authors will be looking to comply with the HEFCE policy, many of our non-UK based authors will need to comply with other OA requirements. We believe this additional metadata will provide all of our authors with the tools required to successfully deposit their article when and where necessary.

In order to enable early registration of DOIs it was important for us to be clear on what constitutes the point of acceptance. HEFCE guidance states that the date of acceptance is the point at which “the article is ready to be taken through the final steps toward publication (normally copy-editing and typesetting)”. We have therefore classified the acceptance date as the date upon which an author signs a licence to publish in the journal; this being the date from which the journal has the necessary rights to publish the content. At this stage a DOI will be registered for the article and this will link out to a holding page until the article has been published online.

This is an exciting development and we are confident it will make the compliance process easier, clearer, and quicker for our authors. Ben Johnson, Policy Advisor at HEFCE, said “I’m delighted OUP are implementing early registration of DOIs. I thank OUP for their leadership on this and on the author information which will be great for HEIs”. It’s positive to see that these changes have been gratefully received by the community, and we look forward to seeing the benefits transpire for our authors, to seeing these developments ‘in action’.

Featured image credit: Startup by StartupStockPhotos. CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay.

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