The REF OA policy requires the author’s accepted manuscript of a journal article or published conference paper to be deposited into a repository at the point of acceptance. There has been some concern expressed about how easy this is, and here I’d like to outline some moves toward making it easier.
At the moment only two parties are aware when a paper is accepted for publication; the author and the journal. Clearly, one route by which the paper can get into the repository is that its authors deposit it immediately into their institutional repository; this does happen and is likely to happen more often given the REF policy. However, another route is from the publisher, made aware by one of its journals or conference series that a paper has been accepted. Publishers could then pass on some sort of notification or even the manuscript itself to the university, either to the author, who then puts it into the repository, or to the repository itself.
Over the past couple of months I have been discussing these possibilities with a few people, with the following two results.
1. I asked the publisher trade bodies to circulate an invitation to their members, to discuss the above options. Some publishers (and not just those focusing on Gold OA) have responded expressing interest, and we’ll take those discussions on as I describe below. Interestingly, the trade associations themselves have asked to speak with me about this as well, so I’m looking forward to that conversation this week.
2. We gathered together a group of universities and Gold OA publishers earlier this month to consider some of the practicalities in the kinds of options outlined above, whereby notifications, metadata and/or manuscripts are passed from publisher to repository. Central to this is the likely role of the Publications Router (formerly RJB), but we’re also aware of the potential of the SHARE notification service concept. The outcome of this meeting was a plan, with the following steps:
June 2014: The RIOXX metadata profile will be finalised. This profile encompasses many of the REF and Research Councils’ requirements (it has been designed in collaboration with RCs and HEFCE), and so is a good way to summarise the information that repositories will need about each paper.
July 2014: We will gather a group of publishers who have expressed some interest in this area, and discuss with them what their interest might be, what might be practical, and when. We will be able to refer to RIOXX as a checklist of the information that universities would ideally like, but we are acutely aware of the need to work as far as possible with systems and processes as they are now. We are also aware of other publisher concerns, and want to have an open conversation about those, to make sure they can be addressed.
July 2014: We will work with ARMA and UKCoRR to survey universities, to understand more clearly how they would like to receive streams of notifications, metadata and/or manuscripts from publishers. For example, some might prefer a simple email, others (for example those using Symplectic) might want a target API from which manuscripts can be pulled, and others might prefer an approach whereby manuscripts are pushed to their repository, for example using the SWORD protocol.
August 2014: On the basis of the information we’ll have gathered by this point, we will ask EDINA, through the Jisc Publications Router, to consider how such a middleware solution might support the most feasible and valuable use cases. We hope to do some prototyping at this point, if we can find partners willing and able to work with the Router then.
September 2014: By then, we should have an action plan, on which we can seek some consensus by consulting the various communities involved through existing channels, such as system user groups, professional and other bodies.
I’m aware that universities are already making their own arrangements to ensure REF compliance, and anything coming out of the work described above will need to supplement, rather than replace, those institutional arrangements. Nevertheless, we hope that this Jisc initiative will be seen as a positive contribution.