Implementing Open Access: 10 Practical Steps

As researchers and their institutions gear up for the latest set of OA policy developments, including July’s OA policy review by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the release of the Higher Education and Funding Council for England (HEFCE)’s updated requirements for next year’s Research Excellence Framework (REF), now seems like a good time to offer a set of ‘top tips’ for those seeking to make progress in their own OA journey.

Our guide summarises these ’10 top tips’ in more detail and includes links to many more sources of information and help, but here is a list of the key points:

1) Draw up a policy requiring research output availability in line with the REF

Getting your own policy right will enable your institution to commit resources and it will help to ensure that academics understand both the requirements and the benefits of OA practice.

Developing a workable policy should be quite straightforward. There are lots of resources to draw on including theseguidelines from UNESCO. The Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies also offers lots of examples and links to examples that you can browse and even reuse. You can also read the REF OA policy itself.

Jisc’s OA good practice pathfinder projects have been working on a range of outputs focused on developing approaches to implement an effective OA policy. They are summed up in this recent update.

2) Assess your current position on OA

Explore your institution’s OA preparedness and do the same for its researchers; workshops and other activities are good ways to break down barriers and develop a team-working approach. Work up a baseline assessment so you can identify priority areas to work on first.

The Oxford Brookes/ Portsmouth/ Nottingham Trent ‘Making Sense’ pathfinder project, has created an OA benchmarking tool to help institutions assess whether they are ready for OA compliance. Further resources to help in this area are available here.

3) Get your communications strategy right

For many a hard-pressed researcher, OA seems to be more about admin and compliance than anything else. A clear, effective communications programme will help to ensure that researchers understand the very real benefits of OA and encourage them to become willingly involved in the necessary workflows. This is a resource-hungry aspect of OA implementation, but it brings rich rewards.

You’ll find inspiration in the advocacy toolkit developed by UCL/ Nottingham/ Newcastle Pathways to OA’ pathfinder project. It’s also worth looking at the and it’s worth looking at other advocacy examples from other pathfinder projects.

Setting up a standard OA email mechanism for use by publishers, academics and other participants in the process pays dividends by improving communication channels. You will probably need to commit time and resources to establishing systems to monitor the email address and manage workflows.

4) Resolve the identity issue – implement ORCID

ORCID is system of assigning unique, persistent personal identifiers. It enables researchers to manage their own professional identity efficiently and it can help to automate many processes for their institutions, such as managing and maintaining records and reporting to the REF.

Jisc has recently brokered a national consortium agreement to help the UK’s higher education institutions implement it quickly, cost effectively and with an enhanced level of technical support.

5) Exploit tools that will help researchers navigate their way around OA policies

Our SHERPA/FACT service enables researchers to check whether the journal they plan to publish in is compliant with their research funder’s OA policies. It is a reasonably straightforward tool that can make it much easier to conduct checks and avoid mistakes over compliance.

6) Make sure your repository can support reporting and harvesting of metadata

Standardising the way information is recorded makes it quicker and easier to report to funders and other sector bodies.

RIOXX is a metadata application profile that has been developed to help in applying consistency to metadata fields and it can now be implemented in most repositories and Current Research Information Systems (CRISs). What’s more, having standardised metadata extends the reach of research by making it easier to discover.

We also offer extensive technical support to help repositories aiming to adopt RIOXX.

7) Record article processing charges (APCs) efficiently

Many funders require information on APCs paid to journals. The same information is vital when you are working with the growing number of journal publishers who will offset APCs against journal subscription charges. Recording these charges accurately will save the institution money and so we have worked with several large funding bodies, including RCUK and the Wellcome Trust, to develop a single, agreed format.

The Bath/ Cardiff/ Exeter/ Bristol ‘GW4’ pathfinder project has explored OA reporting and APC payment workflows, while the project from Northumbria/Sunderland universities has worked on cost modelling tool for APCs.

8) Extend open practices to include your APC data

As the market for publication of OA articles develops, every research institution stands to gain from keener pricing if charging is transparent.

Figshare is a forum on which universities are already sharing cost information. It’s worth joining the conversation.

9) Add a simple button in your repository to improve reach and impact

The simple act of including a ‘copy request’ button will enable potential readers to access research from your institution even if it is not published in OA, and it is very easy to do in most repository configurations.

You’ll need to prime researchers to look out for such enquiries, but it should be relatively easy for them to fulfil requests for all but older papers held in the repository.

Some considerations about adding the button are discussed in this blog post by Richard Poynder.

10) Install a tracker code to make download data available to the IRUS-UK aggregation service

This is a practical way to monitor your own institution’s download data and compare it with peer institutions so that you can monitor performance of the repository and the reach of research.

There are some FAQs on the IRUS website to help you get started.

Take part in our webinar

Want to know more? Look out for our webinar taking place during International Open Access week – 19-25 October.

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