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.