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Be Careful What You Wish For – Unexpected Policy Consequences

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Kingsley, Danny A. 


The open access policy landscape in the UK is currently very convoluted and in some cases conflicted. For example, both the Research Councils of UK and Higher Education Funding Council of England have policies requiring open access to research outputs. In the first instance, there is an emphasis on open access publication with block grants to cover the costs; with the latter there is a requirement to have the author’s accepted manuscript in a repository within three months of acceptance if the work is to be eligible for consideration in the 2020 Research Excellence Framework. As institutions turn their attention to compliance the conflicting policy requirements mean there has been a dilution of the open access message. The role of open access managers has moved from a traditional focus on support and advocacy to a responsibility for enforcing compliance. In some cases the systems in place to manage compliance are working against academic engagement with open access. It is instructive to look at feedback from the academic community about what they think is required of them, by whom and when. This approach demonstrates how complex the policy landscape has become, where in some cases the academic response has been to disengage completely. This paper will explore some of the challenges faced by the University of Cambridge with implementing compliance solutions, and how these are being addressed. There are positive aspects of these policy changes, however. Funding compliance has forced traditionally separate administrative centres within institutions to work more closely together. The University of Cambridge has actively pursued interdepartmental collaboration with the appointment of several roles that are shared across the Research Office and Library. In addition, the need to develop compliance systems that sit within existing academic communication practices will potentially increase engagement with open access into the longer term.


This presentation was delivered at LIBER 2015 (Kinglesy DA, "Be Careful What You Wish For – Unexpected Policy Consequences", LIBER 2015, London, England 24-26 June 2015).


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