Tag Archives: APC

Open Access policy, procedure & process at Cambridge

First up, HEFCE’s Open Access policy:

At the outset, let’s be clear: the HEFCE Open Access policy applies to all researchers working at all UK HEIs. If an HEI wants to submit a journal article for consideration in REF 2021 the article must appear in an Open Access repository (although there is a long list of exceptions). Keen observers will note that in the above flowchart HEFCE’s policy is enforced based on deposit within three months of acceptance. This requirement has caused significant consternation amongst researchers and administrators alike; however, during the first two years of the policy (i.e. until 31 March 2018) publications deposited within three months of publication will still be eligible for the REF. At Cambridge, we have been recording manuscript deposits that meet this criterion as exceptions to the policy[1].

Next up, the RCUK Open Access policy. This policy is straightforward to implement, the only complication being payment of APCs, which is contingent on sufficient block grant funding. Otherwise, the choice for authors is usually quite obvious: does the journal have a compliant embargo? No? Then pay for immediate open access.

One extra feature of the RCUK Open Access policy not captured here is the Europe PMC deposit requirement for MRC and BBSRC funded papers. Helpfully, the policy document makes no mention of this requirement; rather, this feature of the policy appears in the accompanying FAQs. I’m not expert, but this seems like the wrong way to write policies.

Finally, we have the COAF policy, possibly the single most complicated OA policy to enforce anywhere in the world. The most challenging part of the COAF policy is the Europe PMC deposit requirement. It is often difficult to know whether a journal will indeed deposit the paper in Europe PMC, and if, for whatever reason, the publisher doesn’t immediately deposit the paper, it can take months of back-and-forth with editors, journal managers and publishing assistants to complete the deposit. This is an extremely burdensome process, though the blame should be laid squarely at the publishers. How hard is it to update a PMC record? Does it really take two months to update the Creative Commons licence?

This leads us to one of the more unusual parts of the COAF policy: publications are considered journals if they are indexed in Medline. That means we will occasionally receive book chapters that need to meet the journal OA policy. Most publishers are unwilling to make such publications OA in line with COAF’s journal requirements so they are usually non-compliant.

What happens if you should be foolish enough to try to combine these policies into one process? Well, as you might expect, you get something very complicated:

This flowchart, despite its length, still doesn’t capture every possible policy outcome and is missing several nuances related to the payment of APCs, but nonetheless, it gives an idea of the enormous complexity that underlies the decision making process behind every article deposited in Apollo and in other repositories across the UK.

[1] Within the University’s CRIS, Symplectic Elements, only one date range is possible so we have chosen to monitor compliance from the acceptance date. Publications deposited within the ‘transitional’ three months from publication window receive an ‘Other’ exception within Elements that contains a short note to this effect.

Published 18 September 2017
Written by Dr Arthur Smith
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Cambridge RCUK Block Grant spend for 2016-2017

Much to our relief, last Friday we sent off our most recent report on our expenditure of the RCUK Block Grant fund. The report is available in our repository. Cambridge makes all of its information about spend on Open Access publicly available. This blog continues on from that describing our spend from 2009 – 2016, and from the blog on our open access spend in 2014.

Compliance

We are pleased to be able to report that we reached 80% compliance in this reporting period, up from 76% last year. The RCUK is expecting 75% compliance by the end of the transition period on 31 March 2018, so we are well over target.

According to our internal helpdesk system ZenDesk, our compliance is shared between 52% gold (publication in an Open Access journal or payment for hybrid Open Access), and 28% green (placement of the work into our institutional repository, Apollo). We do not have the breakdown of how many of the gold APC payments were for hybrid. In the past it we have had an overall 86.8% spend on hybrid.

Not only do we have an increase from 76% to 80% in our compliance rates overall, this is even more impressive when we consider that this is in the face of a 15% increase in the number of research outputs acknowledging RCUK funding. Web of Science indicated in a search for articles, reviews and proceedings papers that Cambridge published 2400 papers funded by RCUK in 2016. In 2015 Web of Science the same search counted 2080 RCUK funded research outputs.

Headline numbers

  • In total Cambridge spent £1.68 million of RCUK funds on APCs (this is up from £1.28 last year)
  • 1920 articles identified as being RCUK funded were submitted to the Open Access Service, of which 1248 required payment for RCUK*
  • The average article processing charge was £1850 – this is significantly less than the £2008 average last year, reflecting the value of the memberships we have (see below)

*Note these numbers will differ slightly from the report due to the difference in dates between the calendar and financial years (see below).

Non APC spend

In total Cambridge spent £1.94 million of RCUK funds in this reporting period, of which £1.68 million was on APCs.  Approximately 13% was spent on other costs,  primarily distributed between staffing, infrastructure and memberships.  The greatest proportion is staffing, with £95,000 spent on this cost. Memberships were the next largest category, mostly arrangements to reduce the cost of APCs, including:

  • £42,000 on the open access component of the Springer Compact
  • £22,000 on memberships to obtain discounts – there is a list of these on the OSC website
  • £18,000 on the University’s SCOAP3 subscription

The RCUK fund has also supported the infrastructure for Open Access at Cambridge, with £62,000 covering the cost of several upgrades of DSpace and general support for the repository. This has allowed us to implement new services such as the minting of DOIs and our hugely successful Request a Copy service which allows people to contact authors of embargoed material in the repository and ask them to send through the author’s accepted manuscript. This category also covers our license for our helpdesk system, ZenDesk, which helps the Open Access team manage the on-average  responses to 60 queries a day. We are also able to run most of our reporting out of ZenDesk.

There are some other smaller items in the non APC category, including £1500 on bank charges that for various reasons we have not been able to allocate to specific articles.

Are these deals good value?

Some are. The Springer Compact is shown as a single charge in the report with the articles listed individually. The RCUK Block Grant contributed £46,020 to the Springer Compact and 128 Cambridge papers were published by Springer that acknowledged RCUK funding. This gives us an average APC cost per paper to the RCUK fund* of £359.53 including VAT. This represents excellent value, given that the average APC for Springer is $3,000 (about £2,300).

*Note that in some instances the papers acknowledging RCUK may also have acknowledged COAF in which case the overall cost for the APC for those papers will be higher.

Cambridge has now completed a year having a prepayment arrangement with Wiley. Over this time we contributed £108,000 to the account and published 68 papers acknowledging RCUK. This works out that on average the Wiley APC cost was £1,588 per paper. Like Springer, the average APC is approximately £2,300 so this amount appears to be good value.

However the RCUK has contributed a higher proportion to the Wiley account than COAF because at the time the account was established we had run low on COAF funds. Because the University does not provide any of its own funds for Open Access, there was no option other than to use RCUK funds. We will need to do some calculations to ensure that the correct proportion of COAF and RCUK funds are supporting this account. It is a reflection of the challenges we are facing on a rolling basis when the dates are fluid (see below).

It appears we need to look very closely at our membership with Oxford University Press. We spent £44,000 of RCUK funds on this, and published 22 articles acknowledging RCUK funding. This works out to be an APC of £2000 per article, which is not dissimilar to an average OUP APC, and therefore does not represent any value at all. This is possibly because our allocation of the expense of the membership between COAF and RCUK might not reflect what has been published with OUP. We need to investigate further.

Caveat – the date problem

We manage Open Access funds that operate on different patterns. The COAF funds match the academic year, with the new grants starting on 1 October each year.  The RCUK works on a financial year, starting on 1 April each year. Many of our memberships and offset deals work on the calendar year.

To add to the confusion, the RCUK is behind in its payments, so for this current year which started on 1 April 2017, we will not receive our first part-payment until 1 June. That amount will not cover the commitments we had already made by the end of 2016, let alone those made between 1 April when this year started and the 1 June when the money is forthcoming. This means we will remain in the red. Cambridge is carrying half a million pounds in commitments at any given time. The situation makes it very difficult to balance the books.

Our recent RCUK report covers the period of 1 April 2016 – 31 March 2017 and refers only to invoices paid in this period. In the report the dates go beyond the 31 March 2017 because the reconciliation in the system sometimes takes longer, so items are logged as later dates even though the payment was made within the period. The publication dates for the articles these invoices relate to are wildly different, and many of these have not yet been published due to the delay between acceptance and publication which ranges from days to years.

This means working out averages is an inexact science. It is only possible to filter Web of Science by year, so we are only able to establish the number of papers published in a given calendar year. This set of papers is not the same set for which we have paid, but we can compare year on year and identify some trends that make sense.

Published 22 May 2017
Written by Dr Danny Kingsley

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Who is paying for hybrid?

In our related blog ‘Hybrid Open Access  – an analysis‘ we explored the origins and issues with hybrid open access. Here we describe what funders are allowing or not in relation to payments for hybrid Open Access APCs.

Funding agencies and hybrid

Of the 179 Open Access funds listed in the Open Access Directory, 99 (55%) do not allow hybrid publishing; 78 (44%) do, or do not specify. The two remaining funds (1%) allow hybrid but either discourage it or require that the publisher have an offsetting scheme in place. This shows a strong move away from hybrid since 2014, when only 39% of funds rejected hybrid – a rejection of hybrid is now the majority position.

What’s more, these anti-hybrid funders now include some major organisations, particularly in Europe. The EU FP7 post-grant pilot, for example, is only open to authors publishing in fully Open Access journals, and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) has considered hybrid ineligible for funds since December 2015.

According to a news story in Nature in January this year, the Norwegian Research Council and the German Research Foundation both pay Open Access fees for researchers but do not permit the payment of hybrid costs. The Austrian Science Fund has capped Open Access payments at a certain level; if researchers want to publish in more expensive journals (often the hybrids), they must find the extra cash themselves.

In 2013 Science Europe declared in a position statement that:

The Science Europe member organisations […] stress that the hybrid model, as currently defined and implemented by publishers, is not a working and viable pathway to Open Access. Any model for transition to Open Access supported by Science Europe member organisations must prevent ‘double dipping’ and increase cost transparency.

UK funders’ position on hybrid

The Wellcome Trust, while not yet abandoning hybrid entirely, voiced considerable wariness in its 2014-15 report, and has warned that stricter action will follow if there is not an improvement in publisher behaviour:

We believe declaring that Wellcome funds cannot be used to pay for hybrid OA is too blunt an instrument, unfairly penalising those publishers which provide a good service at a reasonable price, and that it would slow down the transition to a fully OA world – the position we ultimately want to get to.

However, doing nothing is no longer a valid option.  If hybrid publishers are unable to commit to the Wellcome Trust’s set of requirements and do not significantly improve the quality of the service, then classifying those hybrid journals as “non-compliant” will be an inevitable next step.

In 2015 RCUK published an independent review into the implementation of their Open Access policy which, while notably less combative on the issue of hybrid, nevertheless noted the expensiveness of the option and suggested potential future action:

The panel noted that average APCs for articles published in hybrid journals were consistently more expensive than in fully open access journals (despite the fact that hybrid journals still enjoyed a revenue stream through subscriptions). The panel recommends that RCUK continues to monitor this and if these costs show no sign of being responsive to market forces, then a future review should explore what steps RCUK could take to make this market more effective.

In the Universities UK Open Access Coordination Group’s report “Open access to research publications – Independent advice” the author, Professor Adam Tickell noted:

An alternative approach would be to consider whether funding Gold Open Access in Hybrid Journals where there are no equivalent offsets in subscription costs is a good use of public funds. During the course of working on this report, I met with the Publishers Association and Elsevier and I do not believe that the major publishers would find this slight change of course challenging.

Library funds and hybrid

In January this year the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) published Library Open Access Funds in Canada: review and recommendations. Amongst the summary of fund management recommendations was  ‘do not  fund hybrid journals‘.

SPARC maintains an Open Access Campus Funds page, which provides advice. The document “Campus-based open-access publishing funds: a practical guide to design and implementation” contains a whole section on deciding whether to support hybrid, noting “Many institutions that have functioning Open-access Funds have indicated that the toughest decision they made concerned hybrid journal eligibility”.

US library-run funds

Zuniga, H. & Hoffecker, L. (2016). Managing an Open Access Fund: Tips from the Trenches and Questions for the Future. Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship, 1(1), 1-13 discusses the thinking behind a library-run Open Access fund at University of Colorado Health Sciences Library and specifies that funding will only be available for fully Open Access journals and not hybrid ones.

A recent discussion on one of the lists (which is dominated by American institutions) about library funds for open access revealed the very strong preference to support only fully Open Access journals. Of the responses from the US libraries, nine funds did not support hybrid and two did under particular circumstances. The US is not subject to the gold Open Access policies that the UK is:

  • University of Rhode Island only supports “articles published in fully open access, peer-reviewed scholarly journals” that are listed in the DOAJ with its Open Access Fund
  • Texas A&M University Libraries’ Open Access to Knowledge Fund (OAKFund) notes “”Hybrid” Open Access publication venues and publication venues with delayed Open Access models are ineligible.”
  • The University of Pittsburgh’s Open Access Fee Author Policy states “Journals with a hybrid open-access model or delayed open-access model are not eligible.”
  • The One University Open Access (OA) AuthorFund at the University of Kansas supports only publication in “an entirely open access journal. Journals with a hybrid open-access model or delayed open-access model are not eligible”. A definition of hybrid journal is provided. – 2015 article in JLSC “Campus Open Access Funds: experiences of the KU “One University” Open access author fund”.
  • Cornell University’s Open Access Publication Fund does not mention hybrid specifically but the wording implies the fund supports only fully Open Access journals, noting “Since open access publishers do not charge subscription or other access fees, they must cover their operating expenses through other sources.”
  • Concordia University’s Open Access Author Fund states “the article must be published in a fully open access journal. Traditional subscription-based or ‘hybrid’ journals that offer an open access option for a fee are not eligible.”
  • University of Oklahoma’s Open Access (OA) Subvention Fund Policy refers to “true open access journals”, noting “Articles with a hybrid or delayed OA model are not eligible through this fund”
  • The information about University of California San Francisco’s Open Access Publishing Fund includes a section about why it does not support hybrid
  • Northwestern University’s Open Access Fund describes an acceptable open access journal as a “journal published in a fully open access format based on a published schedule of article processing fees”

That said, there were a couple that are considering support for hybrid:

  • Wayne State University’s Scholars Cooperative Open Access Fund states “Hybrid open access arrangements (“paid open access” or “open choice”) may be considered on a case-by-case basis”.
  • Wake Forest University Open Access Fund does support hybrid, but the cost for all open access is split three ways between the Library the Research Office and the author.
UK library-run funds

In November last year the UCL, Newcastle and Nottingham Universities published the results of a survey with Jisc: “Institutional policies on the use of Open Access Funds“. The report noted that of the respondents 18 institutions in the UK had a central institutional fund (not provided by RCUK/COAF). The report noted there were different approaches to using these central funds. At the time four institutions paid for papers in fully Open Access journals only; four paid for papers in both fully Open Access and hybrid journals, without encouraging authors in favour of Green or Gold; and five institutions encourage authors to choose Green where possible.

In response to a list query in October 2016 (which is not a comprehensive survey by any means), there was a mixture of arrangements in the UK library-run funds. Four funds did not support hybrid, four did, and there were three that supported them in particular circumstances.

Some UK funds are primarily non-hybrid with a small number of exceptions.

  • University College London has a fund which provides limited funds “for other UCL corresponding authors who are full (not honorary or visiting) members of staff or students where the funder does not cover open access charges”. This fund generally only pays for papers in fully OA journals. When it comes to hybrids the policy is very much to recommend Green, but the fund does occasionally pay for papers in hybrid journals “where the author makes a case for it”.
  • The University of Bath has a Bath open access fund  for journals that operate “a ‘Gold’ or paid Open Access model only AND the journal is a Q1 title as measured by Journal Citation Reports or SciMago Journal Indicators”. Note that this fund will support hybrid by exception, with Associate Dean agreement.
  • Lancaster University has a small fund available with strict criteria for when it can be used.  The research paper must both be likely to be rated as 4* in the next REF and be the most appropriate place to publish and does not offer a compliant green route or is an open access only journal. Applications need approval from the Heads of Department and Associate Dean for Research.

Other funds do not distinguish between hybrid and fully OA journals:

  • King’s College London are in the second pilot year of an Open Scholarship Fund which currently does not distinguish between hybrid and full open access journals – but this may be considered if the funds are exhausted.
  • Northumbria University Newcastle has an institutional Open Access fund to cover APCs in both fully gold and hybrid journals.
  • Liverpool University has an institutional open access fund here that has very minimal criteria (CC BY, no retrospective OA, no page or colour charges) that pays both hybrid and fully OA APCs. The fund is reviewed every six months.
  • Queen Mary University will be starting to offer a small institutional fund this year to cover non funded research which will support hybrid

There are some UK institutions where no central fund exists but Departments or Faculties have established their own funds with their own rules.

Conclusions

The increase in funds that do not allow payment for hybrid since 2014 indicates that increasingly the gloss has come off hybrid. Originally considered to be a transition method towards fully Open Access journals, the lack of movement towards this outcome has meant a tightening by funders on what can be spent on hybrid. It will be interesting to revisit this in another two years’ time.

Published 24 October 2016
Written by Dr Danny Kingsley and Dr Philip Boyes 
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