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March 2020
We hope you are staying well.

Due to the unprecedented circumstances we are seeing publishers, university presses, academic and research led organisations, and a myriad of other institutions and organisations making content free online. This is a sensible response to two crucial needs: to facilitate speedy research about COVID-19, and to assist universities facing closures on a global level.

From our corner of the world, the Open Access and Research Data Management teams of the University of Cambridge are working from home, and we are here to help with all your open access and research data management needs. Please send us an email if you need to contact us at and respectively.

Likewise, at the Cambridge University Library all our Departmental and Faculty Libraries are closed until further notice, but we are open to users online. A webpage with FAQs has been set up to update users about future developments. Lastly, there is a dedicated website with advice for Cambridge University staff and students at the University and Colleges on novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Open Research newsletter will continue to bring you news on open research topics in the open access, research data management and scholarly communication landscape. Some sections of the newsletter may be slightly different in focus or style, but we hope that the content will be useful nonetheless and that you enjoy reading it.

In the meantime stay well and talk to you next month!

REF 2021: Further update on coronavirus (COVID-19) contingency planning

The REF team has written to heads of institutions to outline the UK higher education funding bodies’ current position in relation to contingency planning for coronavirus for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. According to the latest update the submission deadline on 27 November 2020 will no longer apply, and a new submission deadline will be announced no later than eight months prior to the deadline. Full allowance will be made for the impact of coronavirus across affected areas of submissions. The funding bodies recognise the significant effort that has been invested so far by institutions in preparations for the current REF cycle. In view of this, and following the Minister’s advice to universities on supporting their staff, the REF staff census date (31 July 2020) remains unchanged. 

In the short term, according to the REF Director, the 3 April deadline for nominations to the expert panels has been lifted. Nominations may continue to be made until further notice and an appropriate notice period will be given when a new deadline is in place.

Impact of Coronavirus on UKRI-supported research

“During the coronavirus pandemic, UKRI has two priorities: the safety and wellbeing of our workforce and, as far as possible, the continuation of our business as a national funder of research and innovation", UKRI Chief Executive Professor Sir Mark Walport said on 24 March. As a result, the deadline for submissions for the UKRI Open Access Review Consultation has been extended by six weeks to noon on Friday 29 May 2020.General information for institutions, grant holders, applicants, training grants and REF 2021 is available on the UKRI website.

Further info

COVID-19: Response from the Information Community

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Allen Institute for AI has partnered with leading research groups to prepare and distribute the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19), a free resource of over 44,000 scholarly articles, including over 29,000 with full text, about COVID-19 and the coronavirus family of viruses for use by the global research community.

This dataset is intended to mobilize researchers to apply recent advances in natural language processing to generate new insights in support of the fight against this infectious disease. The corpus will be updated weekly as new research is published in peer-reviewed publications and archival services like bioRxiv, medRxiv, and others.

Free student e-textbook programme to give university students and staff access to learning resources

With the unprecedented impact on higher education (HE) from the coronavirus outbreak, Kortext, the UK’s leading digital textbook platform, in conjunction with Jisc, is launching a nationwide programme to ensure all 2.4 million university students and 217,000 academic staff have access to their key learning resources during this crucial revision and exam period.

The programme partners helping to bring this together include Microsoft, which is delivering infrastructure, Kortext who are providing their platform free of charge and the key academic publishers that include; Pearson Education, Cengage, SAGE Publishing, Elsevier, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Wolters Kluwer.

Patricia Killiard, senior deputy director, academic services, Cambridge University Libraries says: “The importance of being able to provide core e-textbooks to our students and teaching staff during such a challenging time cannot be understated. That this access is being offered for free during the coronavirus outbreak marks incredible generosity and care on the part of the contributing publishers who have chosen to make their content available, and Cambridge University Libraries are extremely grateful to Kortext and Jisc for all their work to make this possible."

European Commission awards contract for setting up an open access publishing platform

The European Commission has awarded a contract for the setting up of an open access publishing platform for scientific articles as a free service for Horizon 2020 beneficiaries. The launch of the ambitious EU open access initiative is planned for early 2021. Original articles of various types in any discipline stemming from Horizon 2020- and Horizon Europe-funded research will be eligible for publication on the platform, which will offer an open and transparent peer-review process.

Publishers provide scholarly content free on Project MUSE during COVID-19 crisis

In response to the challenges created by the global public health crisis of COVID-19, Project MUSE announced that it will support its participating publishers in making scholarly content temporarily available for free on its platform. Among the publishers currently opting to make content free on Project MUSE are Johns Hopkins University Press (all books and journals), Ohio State University Press (all books and journals), University of Nebraska Press (all books and journals), University of North Carolina Press (all books), Temple University Press (all books), and Vanderbilt University Press (selected books). The list of publishers offering free access to content will continually be updated.

Announcing a National Emergency Library to Provide Digitized Books to Students and the Public

On 24 March, the Internet Archive suspended waitlists for the 1.4 million (and growing) books in their lending library by creating a National Emergency Library to serve displaced learners. This suspension will run through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later. This library brings together all the books from Phillips Academy Andover and Marygrove College, and much of Trent University’s collections, along with over a million other books donated from other libraries to readers worldwide that are locked out of their libraries.

DORA Community Call: Roles for libraries in research assessment reform

On 18 March the first DORA (The Declaration on Research Assessment) webinar for the library community was announced. It will take place on Tuesday, April 7 at 11:00 AM Eastern. The webinar is open to all and will provide an update from DORA, offer ideas about the role that libraries can play to advance research assessment reform, and define next steps. Panelists include: Yvonne Nobis, Head of Physical Sciences Library, University of Cambridge; Curtis Brundy, Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Communications and Collections, Iowa State University; Leonidas Papachristopoulos, LIBER Innovative Metrics Working Group; Devin Savage, Interim Dean of Libraries, Illinois Institute of Technology.

Launch of a blog series on the State of Open Monographs 2020

On 11 March, Cathy Holland, Director, Global Publisher Business Development at Digital Science, and Sara Grimme, Director of Strategic Accounts at Digital Science welcomed the first post of a specialized and dedicated book blog series supported by Digital Science. Some of the aims of the blog series are to educate, inform, and serve as a platform for sharing ideas that will be instructional for book publishers, work with a variety of people stakeholders and experts and discuss ideas for overcoming certain challenges in the book space.

The blog organisers are looking forward to working closely with guest authors, each of whom will work on a theme close to their hearts. Contact them by email with ideas you would like to read or contribute about.
Further info

Cambridge University Press is offering free, online access to ebooks

Cambridge University Press (CUP) is offering free, online access to a collection of over 2,000 ebooks hosted on Cambridge Core, for university libraries and their associated students and faculty. This collection includes their HTML textbooks, Cambridge Histories, Cambridge Companions, and Cambridge Elements – please visit the linked homepages for more information and title lists. This offer is open to everyone, regardless of whether access was previously purchased, until the end of May 2020.

If your institution already has access to one of their free reference collections then this should have automatically been updated to reflect the full extent of this offer. For further information, or if you would like to arrange free access for your institution, please ask your librarian to visit CUP's information page in the first instance.
Further info

Jisc Wiley agreement

Jisc, the UK’s research and education not-for-profit that negotiates licences and digital content agreements on behalf of UK universities, and Wiley have struck a four year read-and-publish agreement that offers researchers at UK universities open access publishing in all Wiley journals at no cost to them. As part of the new agreement, the proportion of OA articles published by UK researchers will increase from 27% to an estimated 85% in year one, with the potential to reach 100% by 2022. The agreement begins in March 2020, and all participating Jisc member institutions and affiliated researchers are eligible.
Further info

Calling all social scientists

Emerald Publishing is launching a publishing fund of £20,000 to cover the APCs for research published on Emerald Open Research related to the outbreak and similar healthcare emergencies. They are calling all social scientists working in various interdisciplinary research areas to get in touch as quickly as possible so they can help share their research findings. Emerald Open Research is an open access platform that supports rapid publication, an open data policy and open peer review process. Once articles have passed initial checks, they will be available to read, download and reuse.

UKRI announces first Stephen Hawking Fellows and £179 million doctoral training boost

The Stephen Hawking Fellowships were launched by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), working with the Hawking family, in recognition of Stephen Hawking’s exceptional contributions to scientific knowledge and popularisation of science. The first nine Stephen Hawking Fellows, announced on 6 March, will continue Professor Stephen Hawking’s legacy by furthering our understanding of the universe and communicating the wonders of science to the public. They will tackle major scientific questions such as the nature of the early universe and dark matter and whether string theory really is a ‘theory of everything’, engaging with the public through stand-up comedy, art and music.
Further info

v2.Sherpa Romeo and v2.Sherpa Fact available for public testing

The Jisc open access team announced earlier this month that the release of test versions of two of their established policy compliance services, Sherpa Romeo and Sherpa Fact.

Sherpa Romeo gives a summary of publishers’ open access archiving and publishing conditions for individual journals. The enhanced version of Romeo now has a completely upgraded underlying data model and provides users with an improved layout, with individual sections for each article version.

Sherpa Fact checks if compliance with funder open access policies can be achieved through a particular journal. Fact’s user interface has been upgraded to align with the enhanced interfaces for the other Sherpa services; Romeo, Juliet and OpenDOAR. The service interprets open access policies from Romeo and funder data from Juliet. The service covers seven UKRI Research Councils, the Wellcome Trust and the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF).

You can try out the new sites and give feedback using contact forms, feedback survey or via email.

Further info

What should be the essential baseline practices for repositories that manage research data?

Earlier this month, the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) published a joint response to the OSTP Request for Public Comment on Draft Desirable Characteristics of Repositories for Managing and Sharing Data Resulting From Federally Funded Research. Their response seeks to achieve a balance between the use of best practices for managing data in repositories while at the same time ensuring that requirements are not so overly onerous that they result in excluding a large number of repositories.

Over the next several months, an international working group at COAR will refine, expand and validate the initial framework below, bringing together community-accepted norms and practices across all key areas. Widespread community input will be a critical aspect of this process.

Blogs we've enjoyed

Watch this space!

Cambridge University Libraries are working to deliver online training sessions for the students, researchers and staff of the University of Cambridge. We will advertise them in this section in the next newsletter as well as other offerings available locally.

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