We’re delighted to announce that the University of Cambridge has a new Self-Archiving Policy, which took effect from 1 April 2023. The policy gives researchers a route to make the accepted version of their papers open access without embargo under a licence of their choosing (subject to funder requirements). We believe that researchers should have more control over what happens to their own work and are determined to do what we can to help them to do that.
This policy has been developed after a year-long rights retention pilot in which more than 400 researchers voluntarily participated. The pilot helped us understand the implications of this approach across a wide range of disciplines so we could make an informed decision. We are also not alone in introducing a policy like this – Harvard has been doing it since 2008, cOAlition S have been a catalyst for development of similar policies, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the University of Edinburgh for sharing their approach with us.
Some of the issues that cropped up during the pilot were outlined by Samuel Moore, our Scholarly Communications Specialist, in an earlier post on the Unlocking Research blog. The patterns we saw at that stage continued throughout the year-long pilot – there was no issue for most articles, but some publishers caused confusion through misinformation or by presenting conflicting licences for the researchers to sign. We do recognise that there are costs involved in high quality publishing, and we are willing to cover reasonable costs (while noting our concerns around inequities in scholarly publishing). The fact is that some publishers are trying to charge the sector multiple times for the same content – subscription fees, OA fees, other admin fees – all while receiving free content courtesy of researchers that are usually funded by the taxpayer and charity funders.
Many researchers and funders are understandably becoming firmer in their convictions that publicly funded research should be openly and publicly available. We are fortunate that at Cambridge we are in a position to support this through our support for diamond publishing initiatives (in which the costs of publishing are absorbed for example by universities and no fees are charged to the reader or the author), through read and publish agreements negotiated on behalf of the UK higher education sector and through payment of costs associated with publishing in fully open access venues. Rights retention gives researchers a back-up plan for when other routes are not available to them, e.g. when a journal moves unexpectedly out of a read and publish agreement or a publisher does not offer any publishing route that meets their funder requirements.
This is not the end goal, we have work to do to reach an equitable approach to global scholarly publishing, and we can learn a lot especially from how South America approaches these issues. We welcome opportunities to work together with others around the world to create a more sustainable and equitable future for scholarly communications.
2022 has been another fantastic year for Open Research in Cambridge and I’m so proud of what we have achieved together as a community of researchers, library staff, technicians, administrators, publishers and more. I’d like to highlight some of the key themes in our work this year and thank all who have contributed to this work in any way throughout the year (though I have limited myself to naming chairs of workstrands below). The following video by our Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), Prof Anne Ferguson-Smith, gives an indication of the importance that the university places on this work.
Understanding disciplinary differences
I know that I’m not alone in hearing that researchers in Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences disciplines often feel a disconnect between the language and priorities of “Open Science” and their experiences of how research is conducted – this is one of the reasons we choose to frame it as “Open Research” here in Cambridge. I see a strong desire from many to engage with open research practices, paired with frustration with the challenges of translating the terminology of open science to other areas. In order to better understand these issues, we established two working groups (Open Research in the Humanities and Open Qualitative Research), each of which was tasked with forgetting what they think they should do due to how open science is generally described, and instead describe what they see as the opportunities for open research within their disciplines.
The Open Research in the Humanities group was chaired by Prof Emma Gilby and supported by Dr Matthias Ammon. Their excellent report is already available on Apollo and through a series of blog posts here on Unlocking Research. The Open Qualitative Research group was chaired by Dr Meg Westbury and their report is due to come to the university’s Open Research Steering Committee in January. We will be sharing this more widely in early 2023 – it’s well worth watching out for! Both reports will inform how we talk about Open Research at Cambridge and will shape the transformative programme that we are in the process of developing.
Research data management
Our small but dedicated Research Data team, led by Dr Sacha Jones, has had another impressive year. Our Data Champions Network goes from strength to strength, and has expanded into departments that have not been represented in previous years. Other key projects have included a review of our research data services with recommendations for future development, a project on electronic research notebooks, and lots of work to support open research system developments, all while continuing to support researchers with data deposits and writing data management plans. This team is expanding next year which will enable even more work to meet the needs of different disciplines.
The future of scholarly publishing
We hosted a series of three strategic workshops on the future of scholarly communication earlier this year, developed in collaboration between Cambridge University Libraries and Cambridge University Press. Led by independent facilitator Mark Allin, participants across disciplines and career stages came together to discuss the problems of scholarly communication, potential long-term solutions to these problems and a strategy to help Cambridge get us there. The proposals emerging from the meeting are currently being developed and include newly developed infrastructures for diamond open access publishing projects and a series of high-level strategic meetings aimed at strategic improvements to equity in academic publishing. There are already diamond publishing initiatives within Cambridge, and projects will start in early 2023 to understand existing initiatives in greater detail and to provide the infrastructure to establish additional diamond journals.
The library’s annual Open Research Conference took a similar visionary approach in its focus on the future of open access. Titled Open Access: Where Next?, the conference featured expert speakers on how we can think beyond open access toward more innovative, sustainable and equitable open futures. We heard from researchers excluded by certain approaches to open access, how other researchers are addressing issues through their own scholar-led approaches, alongside how openness fits into changing research cultures and can facilitate experimental publishing projects. A full round up with videos of each session is available on the Unlocking Research blog. My thanks to Dr Bea Gini for her leadership in planning this conference.
Open Access now
While we are actively working towards a new future for scholarly publishing, we also need to ensure that our researchers have ways to make their work open access right now. We do this in a number of ways, engaging with the academic community and contributing expert open access advice on publishing agreements that are negotiating across the sector and administering the block grants that are provided by funders and the university to cover the costs of publishing in fully open access venues. All of this requires close reading and interpretation of funder requirements to ensure that we are able to support our researchers in what they are required to as well as what they would like to do. I’d like to specifically thank Alexia Sutton, who leads our Open Access team, and Dr Samuel Moore, our Scholarly Communication Specialist, for their leadership in this area.
We are particularly pleased with the engagement from across the university with the ongoing Rights Retention Pilot, which provides a route to open access for articles that cannot be made immediately available through existing publishing deals, are not eligible for the block grants mentioned above or where the publisher simply does not provide any route to immediate open access. We are now consulting on the development of a Self-Archiving Policy which is buit on what we have learned throught he pilot and will sit within our Open Access Publications Policy Framework. Members of the university can find out more by reading this document (accessible to Raven users only). It has been an honour to lead a dedicated group of library and research staff on this project.
Open research systems
Everything we do requires that we have the right technical infrastructure in place. The Open Research Systems team is led by Dr Agustina Martinez-Garcia and based within Cambridge University Libraries’ Digital Initiatives directorate. This year has seen projects to upgrade links between Symplectic Elements and Apollo, technical changes to support the rights retention pilot, a review of the open research systems landscape, contributing to thinking around future publishing platforms, electronic research notebooks and data infrastructure, and planning ahead for the upgrade to DSpace 7, improvements in the thesis service, and building connections between DSpace repositories and Octopus. This is not a comprehensive list and we plan to showcase more of their work on the blog in 2023.
Research enquiries, briefings and training
I want to end with huge thanks to the library staff based both in the Office of Scholarly Communication and in the Faculty & Department Libraries who do so much throughout the year, answering frontline research support queries, signposting as required, providing tailored briefings and training on highly complex and constantly changing topics. We especially value the disciplinary insights we get through working closely with the Research Support Librarians that are based within the Schools.
Join our team!
Open Research is an incredibly rewarding area to work in and the scale of what we’re trying to achieve is really ambitious. I’m delighted that the importance of what we are doing is recognised by both Cambridge University Libraries and the wider university and as a result we are expanding our team!
We are currently recruiting for an Open Research Community Manager to establish and develop a Cambridge Open Research Community, bringing researchers across the university community together through regular online and in person events to enable exchange of expertise in open and rigorous research practices. In January, we plan to advertise for two Research Data Coordinators and an Open Research Administrator, with a Research Services Manager post following later in the year. All of these roles will be listed on the university’s jobs site as well as on LinkedIn, mailing lists etc. If you’re interested in our work and would like to find out more about these opportunities please get in touch at email@example.com!
This interview is reposted with agreement from the sOApbox blog. It is one of a series of blog posts outlining how different institutions are introducing rights retention policies to support their researchers in sharing their research as widely as possible.
14/04/2022 In 2008 Harvard’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences voted unanimously to adopt a ground-breaking open access policy. Since then, over 70 other institutions, including other Harvard faculties, Stanford and MIT, have adopted similar policies based on the Harvard model. In Europe such institutional policies have, so far, been slow to get off the ground.
We are beginning to see that situation change.
The University of Cambridge has recently established a pilot rights retention scheme on an opt-in basis, with a view to informing the next revision of the University’s Open Access policy. In the following interview, Niamh Tumelty, Head of Open Research Services at the University of Cambridge, describes the purpose of the pilot, how researchers can benefit from it and shares her tips for any other institution that might consider adopting a similar policy.
cOAlition S: Could you, please, describe the author copyright policy you have adopted at your university?
Niamh Tumelty: We are inviting researchers to participate in a Rights Retention Pilot, which will run for one year starting April 2022. Participating researchers will grant the University a non-exclusive licence to the accepted manuscripts of any articles submitted during the pilot, making it easier for us to support them in meeting their funder requirements by uploading their manuscripts to our institutional repository, Apollo, without needing to apply an embargo. The pilot has launched using a CC BY approach as required by most cOAlition S funders, and we are exploring providing an option for alternative licences for researchers who do not have that specific requirement.
The researcher will notify the journal by including the rights retention statement on submission. When the paper has been accepted, the researcher will upload the accepted manuscript as normal via Symplectic Elements, indicating during the upload process that they have retained their rights. The Open Access team will do their usual checks, advise the researcher on what will happen next and arrange for the article to be made available on Apollo.
We will closely monitor what happens during the pilot and all participating researchers will be able to comment on their experiences. We will review all feedback and use it to inform our next review of our institutional open access policy.
cOAlition S: Why did the idea of adopting an institutional rights retention policy emerge?
Niamh Tumelty: The introduction of the requirement for immediate open access to research supported by cOAlition S funders has proven challenging in practice, with some publishers offering no compliant publishing route and others charging unsustainable prices for immediate open access to the final published version. Unless researchers want to move exclusively to publishing in journals that are diamond, fully gold or included within read & publish agreements, they need a way to retain sufficient rights, so that they always have the option to post their accepted paper online to achieve open sharing of their scholarship. Some disciplines have been left with little or no choice about where they can publish their research while meeting their funder requirements and their own goals for open research.
“The rights retention strategy is a key tool to enable researchers to openly publish in whatever journal will reach the most appropriate audience.”
cOAlition S: How was consensus reached across the institution?
Niamh Tumelty: The fact that immediate OA is now a funder requirement for the majority of our researchers made the conversation relatively easy. We held a number of discussions at the Open Research Steering Committee to ensure that we had as full an understanding as possible, providing examples of issues that were arising in the first year of the Wellcome Trust rights retention requirement in the absence of an institutional policy.
We considered developing an institutional opt-out policy as others have done but concluded that the highly devolved nature of the University of Cambridge would have made it extremely difficult to conduct a thorough consultation and reach consensus by the deadline of 1 April 2022. We agreed that the most appropriate next step at Cambridge was to run a pilot on an opt-in basis. A working group was established to design this pilot and included researchers from across a range of disciplines along with open access and scholarly communication experts from Cambridge University Libraries. The working group met every two weeks from mid-January to the end of March to consider the issue from different disciplinary perspectives and to develop the approach for the pilot. We drew heavily on the policy that was introduced at the University of Edinburgh earlier this year, learning also from the UK Scholarly Communications Licence and Model Policy and recommendations that have been publicly shared by Harvard University. We brought the proposed pilot to the University’s Research Policy Committee for comment and took legal advice on the detail of how we would approach this before launching.
The beauty of a pilot approach is that no researcher has to participate – they have a choice about whether or not to opt in and will have the opportunity to influence whatever policy is ultimately introduced across the university. We can take this year to really understand the issues in detail and to build consensus about the best approach for Cambridge.
cOAlition S: What challenges had to be overcome before it was agreed to adopt the policy?
Niamh Tumelty: The biggest challenge in the lead up to the pilot has been understanding and developing confidence in the rights retention strategy. The expert legal advice we received following the announcement of the Wellcome Trust requirements and again as we designed the detail of our approach was critical in enabling us to develop the pilot. Now, our challenge is to clearly communicate and explain rights retention to our many researchers as a route they can choose when publishing and to grapple with any issues that arise during the pilot year before developing any full institutional policy.
cOAlition S: What are the advantages of adopting the policy for your researchers and your institution?
Niamh Tumelty: The rights retention strategy is a key tool to enable researchers to openly publish in whatever journal will reach the most appropriate audience. It may be that some publishers decide to reject any papers in which the author has retained their rights, but this seems an unsustainable position given the growing number of authors whose funders require immediate open access for all outputs.
The advantage of a pilot approach rather than a full institutional policy is that it provides space and time for deep engagement across our highly devolved university. It creates a framework for the researchers that wanted to have an early route to support them in retaining their rights and for the open access team that advises and supports them. It enables us to generate evidence from our own researchers, to build confidence and trust and to refine the approach ahead of shaping a full institutional policy.
“Researchers are in a stronger position than they realise – if publishers want to continue getting this free content from our researchers, they will need to develop publishing routes that meet the needs of their academic communities.”
cOAlition S: As a conclusion, what are your three top tips for any other university considering adopting a similar permissions-based Open Access policy to yours?
Niamh Tumelty: 1) Include a range of disciplinary perspectives from the earliest stages of planning. This early consideration will make it easier to tailor the messaging to different parts of the university, taking into account the different drivers and concerns that come into play. Make sure that the humanities perspective is included – too often in open research initiatives the humanities appear to be an afterthought, if considered at all.
2) Anticipate the questions that will be asked and make sure that you have clear and honest answers to those questions. Be honest and open about the fact that we are learning through the process (while building on the experiences of those who have gone before) and that there will be challenges. This enhances credibility and manages expectations as the policy beds in.
3) Have confidence in this approach! This is not new – researchers have been retaining their rights in this way for over a decade and it is becoming increasingly common practice across a range of institutions. Researchers are in a stronger position than they realise – if publishers want to continue getting this free content from our researchers, they will need to develop publishing routes that meet the needs of their academic communities.