Community events OA support

An alternative OA week, ‘demand management’ and mentoring – discussions from our community webinar

Our community webinar on 27th September aimed to provide an opportunity for sharing expertise and experiences. While face to face events are often preferred (see the write up of the last event), they are costly in term of time and resources and there are limits on the numbers that can attend. So we wanted to try out something different.

We invited contributors to give brief updates on their current challenges in implementing open access, what was working and what wasn’t, and provided an opportunity for them to ask the audience questions. We encouraged chat throughout the session, had regular polls and offered up the mic to anyone who wanted to ask questions (no takers this time, but maybe next?).

Who attended?

A quick poll to find out who was in the room highlighted the (predicted) difficulty of pinning down roles and job titles in OA implementation – over half of the 70ish attendees were library staff but the rest covered a diverse range of job titles, including research manager, repository manager, research officer.

Our contributors then had 5 minutes each to share key developments and challenges at their institutions.


  • Sally Rumsey from the University of Oxford was our first contributor. Sally described how Oxford’s ‘act on acceptance’ approach has led to a 900% increase in deposits to their repository – from 100 to 1000 per month. Her priority is to introduce as much automation as possible and so is exploring the potential of ORCIDs, FundREF and Jisc’s Publication Router. Oxford is carrying out 2 year project to upgrade the repository including reviewing requirements for a repository, software development within the Fedora/Samvera community and sharing their progress. She is also currently working on a revised OA policy.
  • Christie Walker from the Royal College of Art described her position in a small specialist institution, where few outputs are subject to OA requirements and APCs are rare. They received an RCUK block grant for the first time in 2016/17 and face challenges around raising awareness. RCA are also currently reviewing their repository systems.
  • Valerie McCutcheon, research information manager at the University of Glasgow. Highlighted concerns she still has around compliance and difficulties around ensuring all outputs are captured and reported. Valerie’s suggested solutions include improved communication, processes systems and reports within institutions, as well as sector wide cooperation to meet the challenges.
  • Nick Sheppard, data manager at Leeds University, presented with his UKCoRR hat on and gave an update on a recent survey of UKCoRR members and the changing role of open access professionals. His slides are here.

Emerging themes from discussion

  • A possible UKOA week?
    Sally posed a question around OA week – this falls at a difficult time in the UK, near the start of the academic year and also clashing with school half-term holidays, meaning many staff are on leave. Sally’s idea to run a ‘UKOA week’ in spring was positively received. A possible clash with ‘Love data’ week in February was raised, but others thought could also be a joint promotional opportunity.  Early March the front runner in terms of time.
  • Allocation and ‘demand management’ for RCUK block grant
    Managing the RCUK block grant was a concern for many. Sally mentioned Oxford’s revised RCUK block grant allocation policy, while various other approaches emerged. One institution mentioned a paper on ‘demand management’ for the block grant was going to a university research committee. Other approaches included: restricting RCUK funds to fully OA journals, awarding APCs to researchers on application by researcher and being decided by the PVC for research; thinking about going back to RCUK and asking for more or asking what approach to allocation they prefer; using up publisher deposit accounts. Advising green was a common approach, although there are concerns some authors may be disappointed if they have become used to having the APC paid for them.
  • Reporting & systems
    Improving the efficiency of reporting followed the discussion on allocation. The Eprints compliance checker got a mention in terms of improving RCUK reporting and others offered to share their reporting methods. Some discussion on the amount of time spent on reporting and interest in the findings of the recent HEFCE/Jisc/RCUK/Wellcome OA survey. Oxford went through a market review of repository software. She also asked if anyone has set out requirements for a repository system (including data model, functionality etc and whether they would be interested in sharing or discussing.
  • Culture change and advocacy
    Inevitably, the ongoing frustrations around the confusing and ever-changing policy landscape were discussed. In terms of advocacy with researchers, several institutions reported trying to take the emphasis off REF compliance, onto a universal standard of best practice. It should be ‘all carrots’ when talking of OA (or a combination of carrots and chocolate!), while acknowledging academics are markedly more motivated when it’s something funders require.There was some feeling there is too much worry around consequences of non-compliance, we shouldn’t worry too much as long as we are confident we’ve employed best efforts. It was acknowledged that there is still much to do around advocacy and there was a call to ‘crack advocacy together’.
  • Mentoring
    Nick proposed the idea of a mentoring network, an idea which had emerged from the UKCoRR survey. Asking for expressions of interest using a poll, around half of the attendees would be interested in being either a mentor or mentee, with the other half not sure or not responding.

What next?

The overwhelming opinion was to try an interactive webinar like this again (poll results 51-0 in favour). And following some discussion of the pros and cons, it was decided that future webinars *would* be recorded for those who couldn’t attend.

In terms of format, discussion favoured keeping the sessions short so they could easily fit into a working day and focussing more on a specific topic for each session, with fewer scheduled contributors allowing time for community discussion. Knowing topics in advance and be asked to consider certain issues or provide specific information.

If you have any comments to add to the discussions above, please leave them below.

Our next face-to-face community event is on December 5th in York and is now open for booking.

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