In collaboration with Northumbria University we are hosting an online demonstration and discussion of Octopus on November 28th, 1-2pm. Please find event details below and I hope you will be able to join us to learn more about how Octopus aims to support open research.
Octopus is a new publishing platform that is designed to be the primary research record, sitting alongside journal articles which have a more narrative style. Funded by UKRI and built in association with Jisc, it is the place where researchers can record their work in small units, and where the research’s quality can be assessed through peer review and ratings. It is designed to incentivize best practices in research and to make it easy for researchers to establish their priority and get their work ‘out there’ in a way that is fast, fair and free.
Presenter: Dr Alexandra Freeman, Creator of Octopus.
Newcastle University has introduced a new Research Publications and Copyright policy which came into effect on 1st August 2022. The policy is designed to ensure that Newcastle authors are in a position to follow good open research practice and comply with changing funder requirements around open access to research outputs. It does this by recommending that authors make their work open access via use of a Rights Retention Statement (RRS) and self-archiving into the institutional repository. Authors retain their own copyright throughout this process.
The University is working with our colleagues in the N8 Research Partnership to align our approach and all eight institutions will be formally launching their new policies from 1st January 2023. Many other Higher Education Institutions beyond the N8 are launching, or have launched, similar policies.
Funders such as UKRI and Wellcome have new open access policies which aim to ensure that the results of publicly funded research are immediately available and not subject to paywalls or embargo periods. These policies have the potential to bring authors into conflict with publishers, some of whom currently prefer to retain more restrictive publication options. Rights Retention policies developed because they offered a way of resolving the growing tension between research funder policies and publisher models.
Traditional publication models require authors to grant publishers an exclusive right to publish their work, or to transfer copyright to the publishers. Reuse of the published work is subsequently controlled by the publishers while authors retain limited rights about when, where, how and with whom their output can be shared. Access to published research output is in effect paywalled, with access controlled by the publisher.
For some time, major research funders have been unhappy about these restrictions on access to publicly funded research and have adopted increasingly robust open access policies to challenge this position.
Since 2018, many major research funders, including UKRI and the Wellcome Trust, have signed up to CoAlition S whose stated ambition is to ensure that publications resulting from public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms. The strapline for Plan S, (the CoAlition’s action plan) is clear and unambiguous: “making full and immediate open access a reality.”
Wellcome implemented a new open access policy in January 2021, and as of 1st April 2022 UKRI has followed suit. Both funders now require immediate open access to journal articles and conference proceedings resulting from research which they have funded. The policy for the next REF is also expected to be aligned with these requirements.
What does this mean in practice?
The new UKRI policy has extended the existing requirement for immediately-upon-publication open access to include author accepted manuscripts whereas previously an embargo period between first online publication and AAM availability was permitted. Funders will no longer pay fees for Gold Open Access to hybrid journals that lack a transitional agreement.
A further change in the new UKRI policy is that AAMs made available through repositories must be licenced with a creative commons attribution licence, preferably CC-BY: a licence that permits a broad range of usage.
Therefore, the challenge for authors and institutions is when the funder’s requirement for open access publication (immediately, without fees) conflicts with that of the publisher (after embargo, with fees) – whose policy do we comply with? And how do we manage the risks associated with non-compliance?
Rights Retention Policies at UK HEIs
In an attempt to resolve this conflict between funder and publisher policies, several research-intensive universities have started implementing their own rights retention policies, thereby ensuring their researchers are funder-compliant and the associated research outputs are disseminated as widely as possible, whilst retaining the freedom to publish in the journal of choice. The University of Edinburgh have pioneered this with their Research Publications & Copyright Policy 2021.
As mentioned earlier, Newcastle University’s policy came into effect on 1st August 2022, but along with the other N8 institutions will formally launch its new policy on 1st January 2023.
What will this mean for authors?
In practical terms, to comply with the proposed policy on Research Publications and Copyright authors will need to add a Rights Retention Statement (RRS) to the acknowledgements of submitted manuscripts, inform their co-authors about this policy at the earliest opportunity, and upload their Author’s Accepted Manuscript (AAM) into MyImpact. Providing the RRS is included in the AAM this will be made open access upon publication under a CC BY licence.
The Research Services team in the University Library is developing and delivering a programme of resources and training events to support colleagues in transitioning to the new policy between now and the formal launch in January. More detailed guidance on complying with the policy, including FAQs can be accessed on the Library Research Services web pages, and there will be more blog posts reporting on the uptake of the new policy over the coming months.
Photo credit: Chris Bishop via the Newcastle University Photo Library.
The inaugural Newcastle University Open Research Awards culminated in a celebration event where candidates shortlisted for an award we invited to present their case studies. We heard excellent presentations on the benefits and challenges of making research more open from postgraduates and researchers working in a range of disciplines and the winning case studies are presented below.
We’d like to thank all of the candidates who submitted a case study. The submissions we received were all of a high standard and we were delighted by the range of open research practices they described. We’d also like to thank the awards panel (Dr Stephen Parnell, Professor Neil Boonham, Dr Chris Emmerson and Jill Taylor-Roe) for their help with the very difficult job of choosing the winners.
These awards were made possible thanks to Newcastle University’s QR Enhancing Research Culture Project Fund 2022 in support of the University’s developing Research Culture Action Plan. A key strand of this plan seeks to make our research more transparent and reproducible and our data more accessible, to facilitate re-use and extend impact.
This case study described the design of open version control software to facilitate increased transparency in Cell Engineering. The panel felt this case study gave an excellent account of how this innovative open approach would increase public trust in research in a discipline where this is vital.
The panel felt this case study gave a frank and refreshing take on being open from the very start of a research project. It clearly outlined the benefits of openness through study pre-registration and replication. Although not part of the award criteria, it was heartening that a postgraduate student has adopted these principles so quickly in their research career.
This case study described the challenges and societal benefits of combining climate data from diverse sources and adapting them so that they were suitable for release as open datasets with associated open software. The panel also commended their commitment to training early career researchers in open practices.
Led by Renae J. Stefanetti (Exercise Physiologist), Alasdair Blain (Statistician), Linda Errington (Medical librarian), Laura Brown (Trial Manager), Jane Newman, Cecilia Jimenez Moreno (Physiotherapists), Robert McFarland (Paediatric Neurologist), Yi Shiau Ng, Doug Turnbull, and Gráinne S Gorman (Adult Neurologists).
This case study described a wide range of open research practices within their research, including open peer review, open access publication, the sharing of data and fully documented code and the creation of an interactive database of systematic review data. The challenges and benefits of these approaches were well articulated and it offered an excellent example of a group adopting the principles of open research.
Our winning case study described a consistently open approach across several research projects, using a wide range of open practices. They showed a clear understanding of the challenges, offered pragmatic solutions to overcome them and made a strong case for open research as a means to promote scientific progress. They also demonstrated a commitment to championing open research with both colleagues and students
Our thanks also go to Professor Candy Rowe, Dean of Research Culture and Strategy for helping us present these awards and for enabling them through funding from the University’s QR Enhancing Research Culture fund.
And the talks from all our shortlisted entrants were terrific and really inspiring-well done to everyone who entered and took part, and a big shout out to @sboneham and @ChrisJEmmerson who had the idea and brought it to fruition so brilliantly!
All colleagues are invited to attend the Open Research Awards celebration event on Tuesday 5th July from 12.00 to hear presentations from the shortlisted entries and to enjoy a networking lunch.
The Open Research Awards recognise staff and students who have used open practices to make research more accessible, transparent or reproducible, and demonstrate an understanding of the aims of Open Research.
If you would like to attend the celebration event please book below to allow us to cater for the appropriate number of people and for any special dietary requirements.
Friday 1st April sees the start of UKRI’s new Open Access policy. From this date, eligible UKRI-funded research papers must be made open access without embargo, under a CC BY licence (or, CC BY-ND by exception) and include a data access statement. A major change to the policy is that Gold open access in subscription/hybrid journals will be restricted to titles included in Newcastle University’s Transformative Agreements or journal titles that have committed to transition to open access (aka Transformative Journals).
Why has the open access policy changed?
UKRI is committed to championing open research as part of its strategy of advancing research culture change and to support the ambition set out in the government’s R&D People and Culture Strategy.
Open research improves research efficiency, quality and integrity through collaborative, transparent and reproducible research practices. UKRI’s priorities include open access to research publications and making research data as open as possible but as secure as necessary. UKRI is building on the UK’s longstanding global leadership in open research with our new open access policy, which was developed through extensive consultation with the sector. The policy delivers on the ambition in the government’s R&D Roadmap, for publicly funded research to be accessible to all, and will boost the global impact of UK research by increasing opportunities for findings to be shared and used across all disciplines and sectors.
UKRI (2022) UKRI Strategy 2022–2027: Transforming tomorrow together. Available at: https://www.ukri.org/about-us/what-we-do/our-strategy-2022-to-2027/ (Accessed: 29 March 2022).
Transformative Journals. Subscription/hybrid journals that commit to transitioning to a fully open access journals (funds are available, apply here).
Subscription journals and proceedings that allow you to make your final accepted manuscript open access immediately on publication under a CC BY licence (e.g. Science).
If your journal does not meet any of the criteria above you may want to consider submitting elsewhere. Alternatively include a ‘rights retention statement’ in your submitted manuscript that allows you to make the author accepted manuscript open access in our repository. Contact the Open Access Team if you would like to know more about this alternative route to compliance.
Where can I get further advice and guidance?
Newcastle University’s Open Access team
You can find up to date information on our Open Access webpages
Open Access colleagues have presented policy briefings at a various meetings and events across the university and to all faculties. If you would like to request a briefing for your school or research group then please contact the Open Access team to request this.
During the summer months data.ncl, Newcastle’s research data repository, reached over 500,000 views from datasets and code archived from researchers across the University. Reaching this milestone affords us the opportunity to take stock of how far we have travelled in openly sharing data as data.ncl was only launched in spring 2019.
It equally provides an indication of the reach data can have when it is archived and becomes findable, searchable and citable. Records in data.ncl have been viewed from as far away as Chile and New Zealand while the three countries who view and access data most frequently are USA, Netherlands and the UK – showing the global and national interest in research created at Newcastle University. In addition to views, data.ncl has enabled 215,000 downloads and preserves over 1200 records for future reuse.
“The long-term archiving and sharing of datasets through data.ncl is a significant part of our support for Open Research. Seeing datasets being viewed, accessed and reused shows there is real value in giving data a second life through data.ncl” said Professor Candy Rowe, Dean for Research Culture and Strategy. Professor Brian Walker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research Strategy and Resources added: “Reaching this milestone shows Newcastle University is committed, along with UK government and other research funders, to the conduct of Open Research that is available to and used by as many people as possible for as long as possible”.
All researchers and PGRs can freely archive and publicly share data from their research through data.ncl. Archived data obtains its own DOI (Digital Object Identifier) for inclusion in research outputs, including publications. To help increase engagement and impact archived data is indexed by Google Scholar and Google Dataset search. Data collections can also be created to group together data records produced from a project or research theme with its own DOI to increase discovery. This can include records of data held in discipline specific repositories to create a full showcase of the data produced by a research project.
The Research Data Service has reviewed and approved hundreds of datasets and these are a few highlights:
The Coral Spawning Database brings together a huge international effort that includes over 90 authors from 60 institutions in 20 countries to openly share forty years of coral data in one place for the first time. The intention is for this database to grow over time so the data isn’t set in stone and can be added to as the research progresses. Dr James Guest said: “Coral reefs have been declining in health for decades and are severely threatened by climate change. It is, therefore, more important than ever to share large datasets on these ecosystems so that they can be used to guide management of reefs in the Anthropocene”. James added: “When we were looking for a suitable data repository for the Coral Spawning Database, data.ncl was the obvious choice because it was so user friendly and has excellent support from the Research Data Service at Newcastle University”.
Through National Lottery Heritage Fund, Dr Nicky Garland mapped and shared a number of features of Hadrian’s Wall including forts, towers, and road systems. The aim was to make the data open and accessible to allow researchers and the wider community to engage with Hadrian’s Wall and its conservation and research. The data records are proving to be very popular and are clearly supporting the aims of the WallCAP project. “In terms of our project decision to use data.ncl – it was a no-brainer! WallCAP will generate a considerable amount of data and we want that data to be readily accessible. Having a secure digital archive that provides DOIs that can be easily incorporated into academic publications is not only convenient, but essential in this era of data-proliferation” said Dr Rob Collis, Project Manager.
The Dental Micromotor Handpiece Dataset was one of the first open data examples of Newcastle University responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic. James Allison, Clinical Fellow, explained: “Our project looked at how we can use novel dental drill designs to reduce the amount of aerosol produced during dental procedures. This is important because concerns over transmitting viruses in these aerosols caused dental services to shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our work showed that these drills produce less aerosol and therefore reduce this risk, allowing them to be safely used in dental practices. This also helped dental students get back to treating their patients at the School of Dental Sciences and in other institutions in the UK. We felt it was important to share our data on data.ncl so that it was available to other researchers looking at the same problem, and also to those developing guidance and policy documents to inform their decisions.”
Ali Alammer was a PhD researcher who shared his underpinning code for a biologically inspired machine vision model (En-HMAX), which rapidly processes 2D images with minimal computational requirements. Ali explained: “With a hierarchy of only six processing layers, the model was capable of extracting formative and unique representation to objects and scenes. It had also achieved comparable performances to existing state-of-the-art architectures including deep learning. I archived the code for research reproducibility purposes as it has a wide range of applications that includes surveillance and robotic vision.”
The contract between academic publisher Elsevier and UK Universities is due for renewal in December 2021.
Newcastle University subscribes to Elsevier’s ScienceDirect at a cost of £1.1 million for the current subscription deal which enables University members to access Elsevier journals online.
The UK Universities sector – on behalf of its researchers and students – entered negotiations with Elsevier with two core objectives: to reduce costs to levels UK universities can sustain, and to provide full and immediate open access to UK research.
Open access to research allows for greater impact, expanding access worldwide and the potential for collaborative work to benefit the national and international research community.
Elsevier is now the only major publisher that does not have a transformative open access agreement in place. Subscription costs to Elsevier’s journals are high and continuing to increase but do not include an open access agreement. Transformative agreements are also supported by cOAlition S research funders and, from April 2022, UKRI’s new policy is similarly supportive.
Therefore, a key practical aim of the negotiations is to secure a transformative agreement with Elsevier, which will support the core objective of immediate open access publishing.
UK Universities began negotiations in March 2021. Representatives from the sector will sit on the official negotiation team and Jisc facilitates the overall negotiations.
Jisc has produced the following video which highlights the key issues involved and has also produced some background information about the negotiations.
The Library will provide more detailed information about the aims of the negotiations and news of any progress over the coming months via this blog and on the Research Services website.
As part of Newcastle University’s Research Strategy, we are evolving our research culture in collaboration with the whole research community. We invite the research community across career stages, job families, and disciplines, to join this first Skills Academy Research Culture workshop: Towards Open Research.
The workshop will invite participants to consider open research practices and reflect on how they and the university can move towards a culture of more open research. In this workshop, we will consider open research principles and practices that increase transparency and rigour and accelerate the reach of our research.
Open research describes approaches to increase openness throughout the research cycle, including collaborative working, sharing and making research methodology, software, code, data, documentation and publications freely available online under terms that enable their reuse. Open research thereby increases the transparency, rigour and reproducibility of the research process and so can promote inclusivity, accelerate impact and improve public trust. However, understanding and adopting open research practices can be challenging. This workshop therefore will explore strategies for culture change here at Newcastle University.
After its long awaited review UKRI announced its new open access policy on the 6th August. The policy will apply to publications acknowledging UKRI funding and aims to make UKRI-funded research freely available to the public. It aligns with Plan S and the Wellcome Trust open access policy, and there is a strong indication that the policy will align with the open access requirements for the next REF (due to be published in November 2021). UKRI have pledged continued and increased funding to support the implementation of the new policy.
The policy will apply to:
Peer-review research articles submitted for publication on or after 1 April 2022
Monographs, book chapters and edited collections published on or after 1 January 2024.
Summary of changes
Articles (from 1 April 2022)
Must be open access immediately upon publication
CC BY licence must apply (with some permitted CC BY-ND exceptions)
APCs for OA in hybrid journals no longer permitted
A data access statement is required (even if there is no data)
Biomedical research articles that acknowledge MRC or BBSRC funding are required to be archived in Europe PubMed Central
Books, book chapters and edited collections (from 1 January 2024)
Must be open access within 12 months of publication
CC BY licence required
Open access can be either published open access or by deposit of the Author’s Accepted Manuscript in an institutional repository
Images, illustrations, tables and other supporting content should be included in the open access content however more restrictive licences can apply for third-party content.
The University will be providing training and guidance before April 2022 to support implementation of the policy.
In this guest post Jan Deckers, senior lecturer in bioethics at Newcastle University, explains his vision of how a ‘Wide in Opening Access’ approach can allow all quality research to be published.
It is probably safe to assume that most authors like their work to be read.
The traditional model of publishing operates by means of the ‘reader pays principle’. In this model, readers must generally pay either to purchase a book or to subscribe to a journal. They might do neither. However, where readers do not pay themselves, others have to do so for them. Frequently, these others are libraries. However, most libraries that lend books and provide access to journals limit access, frequently requiring the reader to be a member of an institution and/or to pay a subscription to the library.
In the age of the internet, access to published work is much greater than what it used to be. Some books are available electronically, and many journals are. In spite of this rapid change, some things stay the same: publishers must still make their money. In order to provide open access to readers, many now demand that authors pay book or article processing charges. This disadvantages authors who seek to publish books and who cannot pay such charges, unless book publishers can rely on third party funds that cover publication costs for authors who cannot pay themselves. Where such funds are not available, other options are available. Authors can still find plenty of publishers who will offer contracts, free of any charge, to those who are able to produce good work. This option exists as many book publishers stand by the traditional model, at least in part because many readers still prefer the experience of reading a tangible book to that of reading a virtual one. Another option is self-publication, where authors can publish books at relatively low cost, essentially by taking on the publishing cost themselves. In sum, whilst open access book publication presents an ethical dilemma where it supports the ‘writer pays principle’, its benefits for readers and the availability of reasonable alternatives for authors who are excluded from publishing in the open access mode makes open access book publication, in my view, a relatively sound moral option.
Open access journal publication presents a different challenge. Some journals find themselves in a position where, rather than to adopt the ‘writer pays principle’, they are able to get the money from elsewhere, for example from governments and other institutions that are willing and able to pay. This is the ideal scenario and – in the current world – the exception rather than the norm. This is why open access journal publication raises a massive moral challenge: what does one do, for example, when the leading journal in one’s academic specialty decides to become an open access journal that charges authors, where neither the author nor the institution that they may belong to can pay? To address this challenge, the journal may be able to offer free publication to some authors, effectively by elevating the processing fee for authors who are able to pay so that it can cover the cost for authors who are unable to pay. Some journals do this already by offering either a discount or a fee waiver to some authors. The problem is that such discounts may not be sufficient and that the criteria for discounts and waivers frequently are too indiscriminate. For example, offering waivers indiscriminately to authors who are based in particular countries both fails to recognise that those authors might be relatively rich and that authors who live in relatively rich countries might be relatively poor.
The only way that I can see out of this is to ‘de-individualise’ the article processing charge completely. Journals would then be able to publish any article that survives the scrutiny of the peer-review process, regardless of the author’s willingness or ability to pay. Such de-individualisation would also address another concern that I have with the open access journal publishing movement: how can we prevent publishers from publishing work that falls below the academic standard? One might argue that peer review should be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, but the problem is that the publisher is incentivised strongly to turn a blind eye to peer review reports, which – in the worst case – might be biased themselves by the knowledge that the author is willing to pay.
Journals that are unable to raise enough funds to publish all articles in the open access mode may provide an option for authors who can pay to publish in the open access mode and for other authors to publish in the traditional mode. Many journals now operate in this mode, and are therefore known as hybrid journals. I do not consider this option to be ideal as it sets up a two tier system, where authors who publish in the former mode are likely to enjoy a wider readership. However, it may be preferable to the traditional mode of publication as this model is not free from problems either, providing access only to readers who can pay themselves or benefit from institutions, such as libraries, that pay for them.
The world in which authors, editors, and peer reviewers must navigate is complex. In spite of this complexity, I call upon all to resist any involvement with journals that do not provide authors with the chance to publish good quality work. Whilst I hope that open access journal publishing will become the norm for all articles, I recognise that journals may not be able to publish all articles in the open access mode due to financial constraints. As long as these constraints are there, however, I believe that journals should continue to provide the option of restricted access publication according to the ‘reader pays principle’.
This is why I only publish with and do editorial or peer-reviewing work for journals that adopt what one might call a ‘Wide in Opening Access’ (WOA) approach. It consists in peer-reviewed journals being prepared to publish all articles that survive scientific scrutiny through an appropriate peer-review process, regardless of the author’s ability or willingness to pay. It guarantees that authors who produce good journal articles and who cannot or will not pay are still able to publish. In this sense, it is ‘wide’. It is wide ‘in opening access’ as it fully supports open access publication becoming the norm. Whilst it adopts the view that articles from those who cannot or will not pay should ideally also be published in the open access mode, it recognises that this may not always be possible.
With this blog post I call upon all authors to support the WOA approach in the world of journal publishing. You can do so, for example, by stating your support for it on your website. Without such support, writers who do not have the means either to pay themselves or to mobilise others to pay for them will be left behind in the transition towards greater open access journal publication. Without support for the WOA approach, those without the means to pay to publish will be disadvantaged more than they are already in a world in which the ‘writer pays principle’ is gaining significant traction. To debate the WOA approach as well as other issues in publishing ethics, I created a ‘publishing ethics’ mailing list hosted by Jiscmail. You can (un)subscribe to this list here.