Innovate UK updates on Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

Innovate UK has posted an update on its blog about the forthcoming Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which is part of the government’s commitment to invest £4.7bn extra in science and innovation over this parliament. Recent engagement workshops have produced a list of 8 focus areas and these are now being refined into more detailed challenge questions. Expect to see further updates in April, when the funding programme will begin.


House of Commons Select Committee Report on Leaving the EU

brexitUKRO has informed us that the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has  published a report into the implications of leaving the EU for UK science and research, which states that the Government must send a clear message that it intends to protect the UK’s strength in science. It suggests that  the Autumn Statement is used to commit to raising the UK’s expenditure on science R&D to 3% of GDP to demonstrate a determination to negotiate a post-Brexit relationship that is good for science and science collaborations.

In particular, it recommends that:

  • Government should develop a comprehensive strategy to communicate messages of ongoing support for the science and research community in the context of its Brexit plans;
  • Government should be mindful of the need to clarify future immigration rules so that the UK continues to attract top-quality researchers;
  • An immediate commitment should be made to EU researchers currently working in the UK, to exempt them from any potential outfall arising from Brexit negotiations;
  • The interim Chair of UKRI should be formally appointed to act as a ‘bridge’ between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU); and
  • DexEU should appoint a Chief Scientific Advisor as a matter of priority.



Government confirms research not subject to gagging clause

Nature reports that the UK government has confirmed that academic research funded by the research councils, HEFCE and the national academies will not be subject to the so-called “gagging clause”, part of changes in legislation restricting use of government funds for lobbying purposes, which is due to come into effect on 1st May:


Open Access, Research and Government Policy

Open Access storefrontBack in November last year I attended a couple of useful and interesting events on open access policy which involved a mix of publishers, academics and HE managers, and government representatives. I’ve been meaning to blog my notes for a while but the small matter of the REF intervened…

I haven’t edited these much so they are more or less my thoughts and snippets that I thought would be useful to others. I’m putting them up here to share and hopefully contribute to the ongoing debate on open access in HE. It’s a little long for a blog post, but I’ve summarised the key messages at the start of each section.

Westminster HE Forum on Open Access:

[important]Summary of event: This event was definitely the most diverse of the two in terms of participants as it involved a mix of HE, funders, publishing industry and policymakers on the panels and in the audience. This made for some lively debate particularly as the question of what value publishers actually add to the academic publication process came up frequently.

Key messages: Most funders already mandate OA, if not they are moving in that direction, but concerns surround how this is to be paid for – not all allow Gold OA costs as part of the grant. There was an interesting discussion of the OA landscape around Europe which showed a very mixed picture in the details, but a general trend towards OA as a requirement for publicly funded research. There was fierce debate about whether Gold is necessary, with OA advocates such as Harnad arguing strongly that increasing adoption of Green OA will eventually lead to worldwide adoption of OA without excessive costs. Publishers – needless to say – argued that Gold is a necessary part of the transition to sustainable OA.[/important]

Wellcome Trust

  • Policy is OA as soon as possible
  • Supports green and gold with strong preference for gold, but gold funding is eligible grant cost
  • Compliance is 65% general upward trend
  • CC BY requirement from April 2013
  • Currently spend £4m per year to support OA
  • If Wellcome funded everything through OA it would cost £9m, but that would only be 1-2% of total spend
  • Market may be dysfunctional, so double-dipping etc happens
  • Have commissioned research into Gold OA with RCUK RLUK etc
  • Discussing Green vs Gold is not helpful any more
  • Was part of Finch review
  • UK is not alone in this process of transitioning to OA
  • Horizon 2020 APCs are in the grant
  • Lots of US funding agencies accept APCs as eligible cost in grant
  • (… But RCUK does not!)
  • What about people not funded through grants?
  • What about humanities and social sciences? How might research funders cope with this?
  • Has there been any progress on OA for books and monographs?
  • How does the argument for Green > Gold work? How will the market suddenly flip from Green to Gold?
    • Springer not sure. But whole Springer portfolio allows Green.
  • What about books/monographs?
    • Springer: Books, totally agree no progress. Question of time.
    • Wellcome: requires monographs and book chapters to be available.
    • Wellcome: we all want to be at the place where publications are freely available.
  • How much is too much?
    • Imperial: need an evidence base to determine how much it’s worth paying.
    • Harnad: goal is not Gold, it’s open access. Only the UK mandates Gold. As we approach 100% OA, institutions will cancel journal subscriptions.
    • Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers: if all we want is accepted version, then we go Green, but if we want the ‘value add’ that publishers provide in terms of the ‘version of record’ then we need to go Gold.
British Embassy Prague, Science attaché – A European perspective on OA
  • 50% of scientific papers published between 2008-2011 are now available for free
  • It’s already happening
  • Spain is only EU country with clear OA legislation at national level
  • Denmark: prefers Green. Funder mandates. Should be OA providing it’s accepted by the journal in question
  • France: mix of Green and Gold = Platinum, no details of what this means or how to bring it about
  • Germany: prefers Green. 6 months for STEM subjects. Gold is considered a ‘parallel route’
  • Netherlands: no official policy but all universities have signed Berlin declaration since 2005. Dutch association of universities have reached agreement with Springer such that all publications by Dutch authors will be freely available next year.
  • Similar concerns and questions across Europe as in the UK: e.g. licensing, CC BY, if gold where do we get the funds?, if green how do we set optimum embargo periods?
Martin Hall, VC Salford – New colonialism in the knowledge economy: Opportunities in the ruins of book publishing
  • Changing nature of research by allowing publication to make reference to data source through hyperlinks etc
  • The power of the hashtag, allows aggregation of massive amounts of information
  • The importance of the copy of record, vital importance of the research repository
  • Repositories will serve as archives for data sets as well as publications
  • OAPEN offers shared open access platform to get material out there
  • Opportunity for social sciences and humanities to learn from previous discussion in science publishing
  • Social media: MOOCs closely connected to publication and OA publication. Coursera likely to be commercialised. Used to outsource 101 teaching courses in US. Implies loss of jobs among junior staff. MOOCs used publications in OA repositories, dependent on OA model.
  • Books: strange that there’s so little movement on this. Is it so different to the journal area? Driver for Finch came from BIS, which was about driving business-oriented innovation. OA publishing may have greater impact in humanities and social sciences than on sciences. Format of papers haven’t changed in transition to OA. But book format constrained very much by format. Might this change? Used correctly digital publishing may have transformative effect on the way arts and socsci publish.
  • Are repositories publishers? No reason why they can’t become primary place for publication. Would be better to develop sensible consortia to do this together. Gets away from ridiculous competitiveness between universities.
  • Is difference between author accepted version and publisher version different enough to pay Gold for? It’s an open question for debate. Need cost-benefit analysis.
Wolfram Horstmann: maximising potential of OA 
  • Commercialisation of results, text mining
  • Government needs to support universities to optimise exposure of research through OA in institutional repositories
  • Pre-publications could be used for text mining etc, so there is an advantage of Green
  • Trend is that there is a growth in journal titles, but also a rise in mega-journals
Mark Ware Consulting
  • How will it benefit SMEs? Large range of SMEs, covers everything from window cleaners to biotech consultants
  • Difference between access to knowledge and tech transfer
  • Main barriers to research for SMEs are paywalls and discoverability
  • Deepdyve and Proquest Udini provide discovery portals, as well as new business models
Nicholas Canny, ERC chair on OA policies
  • Recommending to deposit in institutional repository and discipline repositories because this is the best way to reach the widest possible expert audience – though Harnad disagreed.
  • OA can be paid for through grant if cost is incurred during grant
  • Embargoes: 12 months for HSS and 6 months for STEM
  • OA on its own is not sufficient to draw attention of industry, which is why ERC have developed Proof of Concept grant to work with business/industry
Phill Jones, Macmillan Science and Education
  • Discoverability problem of Green OA
  • Institutional repositories are difficult to find and navigate (disputed point!)
  • Readcube trying to create a single portal for access – publishers well placed to solve this problem
  • Green OA model enables you to be much more agile and innovative
  • Knock on effect to ECRs. Presumption that publishing in high impact journals is the only way to get research out there. Lowered barrier to publication, eg data sets.
  • Economic shift away from library and publisher towards author
  • Incentivises publishers to make it easier to publish, broaden types of publication
  • Discoverability is key for Green
  • Funding is key for Gold – awareness raising
  • Ensure there is an appropriate IR compliant with Openaire EU standard
  • No clear understanding of what a publication is, introduce quality controls?!
  • Upload author manuscript on OA IR
  • Ensure there’s a DOI
  • Increasing amount of “born digital” publications, need to urgently give higher recognition to these journals
  • “Quality”: not talking about removing peer review, but shifting away from impact citation/view potential determined by editors, towards research quality determined by academic peer review
  • Can language used be changed in the paper? A lay abstract? Nothing to do with OA. Kudos providing services to authors to make papers more discoverable, eg lay summaries, using social media
BIS select committee
  • Select committee rejected Govt report recommendations on the basis that not enough evidence had been presented. Saw it as propping up a dysfunctional market.
  • Does Green maintain status quo? Or does Gold?
  • Where is the funding coming from for humanities and social sciences?
  • Govt needs to do more to come up with a model which will deliver open access

Open Access: Measuring the costs to universities of implementing RCUK policy

[important]Summary of event: This event was co-organised by ARMA and London Higher (a consortium of London universities) so it was very much populated by HE policy and research manager types (like me). However, it was useful to get a sense check of what other institutions are doing around OA and how the sector is preparing to implement RCUK and HEFCE policy in the run up to the next REF.

Key messages: Green tends to be preferred route for most HEIs unless Gold is necessary to meet a funder mandate. Having said that, even institutions which had a significant RCUK block grant to fund Article Processing Charges haven’t seen a major draw on those funds. OA to research data is a big unknown and lots of uncertainty exists around this. At the end of this event there was a useful final discussion session which acts as a good summary of the current state of OA in the HE sector.[/important]

Geoff Rogers – PVC Brunel, Chair of London Higher Research Excellence Group: Introduction

  • Context of RCUK policy, concern around emphasis on Gold, embargo periods etc.
  • Wrote to RCUK and BIS in early 2013 expressing concerns
  • Evolving picture, still trying to understand what’s happening and share experiences
David Price – UCL, Setting the Scene
  • OA is a solution to the problem of inaccessible research, paywalls
  • OA right in principle and a key way to disseminate research, yet it’s difficult to implement
  • Finch report contentious because strong recommendation for Gold OA and no one picked up need for extra money
  • RCUK first policy in July 2012 was too hasty, back-pedalled and we have latest iteration of OA policy
  • Publishing community is now alert to ‘threat’ of Green OA and are policing it
  • Sept 2013 BIS select committee report criticised Finch for Gold emphasis, prefers Green
  • HEFCE policy for OA in REF 2020 sets 2016 as start date for eligibility
  • Problems… Policing of embargoes more prevalent, lack of APC controls, double-dipping, rest of world swinging to Green over Gold
  • Price wanted a national subscription service (!?) for all institutions and SMEs – concern that current situation helps international industry more than UK industry and costs UK more to do this
  • UCL context: 9000 research outputs per year, publication ‘core to business’
  • Researchers select ‘most effective dissemination channels’ so OA no threat to academic freedom at UCL
  • 275,000 items on repository, 20,000 OA full text, 1,000,000 downloads on those items
  • Big challenge is compliance
  • No discrimination against younger, ECRs, etc, it’s UCLs responsibility to make it OA if it’s been funded by RCUK. Short by 2000 RCUK publications given RCUK OA fund (£2M). UCL put aside money to develop approach to OA.
  • Considering going directly to publishers every year and asking who’s published from UCL over last year and then making them Gold
  • UCL press, ‘overlay’ journals, and OA monograph publishing service

The following speakers then responded to the context talk and gave different views…

Cathy Urquhart – Manchester Metropolitan

  • Embargo periods for OA getting longer
  • Finch report best estimate was that it would cost sector £50-60M
  • Different environment at MMU, 300 publications per year, less resource
  • Green is preferred route for MMU, but they are going to set up APC fund (but not much money), Library will manage this fund, negotiating with publishers where necessary
  • MMU got £11K from RCUK for 2013/14 (similar ballpark to Northumbria)
  • Making REF 2014 outputs OA to see where costs lie in advance of 2020
  • Monitoring equal access to APCs
  • Will support Gold if funding is available from funder.
Trevor McMillan – Lancaster University
  • Divide figures from UCL by 5 to reach Lancaster’s figures
  • 30-35% science so big concerns about AHSS side of debate
  • 10 years ago debate was whether money should be put into repository – eprints vs DSpace
  • Lots of promotion around ePrints and resource in terms of Library staffing
  • 10-15% of total repository deposits have/had? full text
  • Only publisher PDFs were put into repository, but concerns from maths etc where working papers were more common – still policy, but fraying at edges
  • Using PURE which allows integration into University web pages of repository content
  • OA policy effectively says Green as standard, unless money exists to go Gold from elsewhere
  • Got £160,000 from RCUK and only spent 20% of this (similar to St Andrews experience)
  • But £25K made available for non RCUK funded research and this has all gone
  • Not expecting reduction in journal subscriptions, so OA is additional money (double dipping)
  • Publishers are starting to come out with deals, eg IEEE deal. Social Sciences directory institutional rate for OA journals. Will they create reputation and get traction with academic colleagues?
  • Worry about % compliance rates for HEFCE. Imagine having to say to people they can’t be included in REF because they have to hit OA compliance rate. Targets are a serious worry.
  • OA to research data is a major issue, even RCs are starting to worry about this.
Oriana Baddeley – University of the Arts
  • Small in some interpretations of a University, but large in terms of a monotechnic – only returning to one UoA!
  • UAL research online – 4000 live records, 37% have downloadable content, developed as part of KULTUR project funded by JISC customised for non text outputs
  • 15% of text based return is journal articles, lots is books etc
  • Firmly committed to Green
  • Lots of investment in staff because IR cannot easily automate non journal, non-standard content
  • Invest money on picture reproduction rights charged by journals to authors
  • Lots of QR income is to pay publishers for reproduction rights
  • APCs will be in addition to above costs. Will end up spending more
  • Self-archiving
  • How can universities collaborate with each other to solve some of these issues?
    • Collaborations around arts and humanities are important
    • Need to have debate
    • Is the future about disciplinary responses to OA rather than institutional response?
  • How much have universities been setting the agenda, and how much have we been responding?
    • Good in setting up IRs, but since then on the back foot
    • Sector didn’t see it coming, a bit naive. Need to start thinking now about open data question because that’s the next tsunami
  • How many universities thinking about retaining copyright as in Harvard’s case?
    • Not an option for those lower down the tree
  • Say more about national subscription model
    • Finland have an agreement with publishers that entire population has access to publications. Current UK subscription bill is £120M and some publishers have indicated this would rise by 20%
    • Netherlands tried this and got less than 200 applications for access. What problem are we really trying to solve here? Is there really a lack of access, do people want access? Do people know that this is available?
  • MOOCs
    • Real issue about OA is about timing. MOOCs may not rely on information produced in embargo periods.
    • Issue about copyright of images which MOOCs material may rely on.
  • Culture change and ensuring compliance?
    • Both carrots and stick required
    • Effective research is not just disseminated but engaging from the start
    • “Hitting people with bigger carrots”. Tie to HR processes, eg promotions and appraisals. Make process of uploading as painless as possible.

Afternoon session

Alma Swan – assessing costs and benefits to UK HEIs

  • ARMA issues:
    • Lack of author engagement
    • Disciplinary concern, eg arts and humanities
    • No system for monitoring publication practices
    • Impact factor still critical which makes advocacy difficult
    • How to spend RCUK funds?
    • Lack of ownership of OA agenda within institutions
    • What about other types of output?
  • SCONUL briefing:
    • Lots of helpful contextual information, based on case studies done at 8 institutions
    • Looked at advocacy, staffing, institutional position on OA, management of APC funds
  • RIN study:
    • Policy making practices
    • Focused heavily on research intensives
    • Looked at how 2012 pump priming money had been used
  • None of existing studies have looked at costs. London Higher report will focus on this aspect
  • Sample representative of UK HE sector
  • Questions:
    • Implementation and planning
    • Support for Gold and Green OA
    • Costs £££ how have you spent money from RCUK?
  • Alma Swan: if you want to be involved in this
Final discussion
  • Strong preference for Green among research intensives and research led institutions
  • Some institutions using RCUK block grant on a first-come first-served basis, and therefore concern about what will happen when this fund runs out (though Kent, St Andrews, Lancaster reported low demand for this)
  • Some are spending RCUK money on Green OA implementation – no one using this money for repositories
  • Some institutions had APC fund before RCUK block grant (Nottingham), many didn’t – often run by the Library
  • Having fund taken over by a third party does not necessarily reflect a cost saving
  • Final action plans not yet developed (many still evolving), but interim plans are in place in many cases
  • No rigorous compliance activity going on – this is seen as the major issue
  • Lead responsibility generally lies with Library, but research offices often involved in compliance activity/reporting to funders – often APC funds administered by Library
  • Some institutions getting involved in setting up OA journals, will self-publishing become increasingly important?

Update on Catapults

Catapult abstract detailIt’s been a while since we’ve blogged about the Catapults, the TSB managed UK network of research-industry centres in strategic economic areas, but today saw a significant report on activity over the last year:

Catapult Progress Report 2013

The network of Catapults currently covers seven thematic areas, from High Value Manufacturing to Future Cities, and this is seen by the report as the completion of the “first wave” of activity. Catapults in an additional two areas have already been announced (Energy Systems and Diagnostics for Stratified Medicines) as part of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review and others may follow.

The rationale behind Catapults is to bridge the gap between academia, research, industry and government. They are the UK equivalent of Germany’s successful Fraunhofer model.

The Catapults are distributed throughout the UK, but with several clustered round the South East and within London (including Future Cities, Connected Digital Economy, and Cell Therapy Catapults) the spread is not diverse. Geographically, the closest connection Northumbria has to the Catapults is through the Centre for Process Innovation, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult based in Redcar and Sedgefield.

The clustering of Catapults in the South of England is something which the Business secretary, Vince Cable, wants to move away from as more centres come on stream. He’s quoted in Research Fortnight as saying: “Just one request, if I may: that we draw on the excellence of centres right across the UK, not just the south of England.”

Activity within the Catapults is at various stages of development, although it’s still relatively early days. Some Catapults have only relatively recently been formed (for example both Future Cities and Transport Systems have only recruited senior staff within the last month), while others are already up and running and delivering projects (e.g. the High Value Manufacturing Catapult which is probably the most advanced, claims 571 businesses directly involved in 830 projects in the first full financial year).


Understanding Government: An Arts and Humanities Perspective

Human Rights Advisory Group by Foreign and Commonwealth Office CC BY-ND 2.0Are you an AHRC-funded postgraduate student at Northumbria? If so, an opportunity is available to take part in a pilot course on “Understanding Government” on 7th November 2013, run by AHRC in partnership with the Institute for Government. Find out more on our BGP web pages:

‘Understanding Government: An Arts and Humanities Perspective’ – Call for Applications

The course will:

  • Provide a basic framework for understanding how government works
  • Demonstrate how Arts and Humanities can contribute to government and policy through research

The course will be of interest to AHRC-funded students:

  • considering an academic career in which policy engagement is expected to play a part
  • considering a career in policy making or policy engagement e.g. within local or central government or related careers such as think tank research or journalism.

The course is for current AHRC-funded doctoral students and is open to students funded through any of the AHRC’s schemes (BGP, BGP:CB, CDA and Project Students). Entry to the course is competitive and you will need to complete the application form provided and submit to by 12 noon on 12th July 2013

The competition is in two stages:

  • you will need to apply initially to Northumbria. We will run a competition to select up to two students to be nominated.
  • AHRC and IfG will then run a selection process to determine which of the nominated students, from across all eligible Research Organisations, will be invited to attend the course.

The course will be held at the Institute for Government Offices in central London on 7 November 2013 and the nominated students will need to commit fully to attending the course. If you are selected and accept; you will be expected to make every effort to attend, unless there are exceptional or unforeseen circumstances that prevent you from doing so. The costs of the course and travel and subsistence, within AHRC’s standard terms and conditions, will be paid for. Please do not apply if you cannot commit fully to attending on 7 November as you will be preventing another student from accessing this opportunity.



UK Government Embraces Gold Open Access

More news on open access scholarly publishing this month, following last month’s publication of the Finch report. The UK government has now made a formal response which largely accepts the Finch proposals, and in particular embraces the move to “gold” open access, which means that the author pays the costs of publication upfront, rather than libraries subscribing in bulk to journals.

BIS Response to Finch

The essence of today’s announcement is that all UK publicly funded research should be made openly accessible to anyone to read for free by 2014. In particular, it means that research should be published in OA journals which charge a fee to the author – in reality the author’s institution – for making the article freely available. This fee is known as an Article Processing Charge or APC. The costs of this move to gold OA will be borne by the existing science budget, which will not be increased to cover transitional costs to the new publishing arrangement.

Interviewed in the Guardian yesterday, universities and science minister David Willetts echoes the Finch report in claiming costs will amount to 1% of the current science budget:

“There is a genuine value in academic publishing which has to be reflected and we think that is the case for gold open access, which includes APCs,” Willetts told the Guardian. “There is a transitional cost to go through, but it’s overall of benefit to our research community and there’s general acceptance it’s the right thing to do.

“We accept that some of this cost will fall on the ring-fenced science budget, which is £4.6bn. In Finch’s highest estimation that will be 1% of the science budget going to pay for gold open access, at least before we get to a new steady state, when we hope competition will bring down author charges and universities will make savings as they don’t have to pay so much in journal subscriptions,” he added.

“The real economic impact is we are throwing open, to academics, researchers, businesses and lay people, all the high quality research that is publicly funded. I think there’s a massive net economic benefit here way beyond any £50m from the science budget,” Willetts said.

However, there is a concern that in the transitional period there will be additional costs for universities: libraries will still need to subscribe to many traditional journals as not all countries and publishers have embraced this move to open access. These costs will need to be met on top of the APCs to be levied on publicly funded research published in OA journals.

Meanwhile so-called “green” open access, where authors self-deposit a version of their published work in institutional or subject-specific repositories, barely receives a mention in the formal BIS response. The Guardian reports that this is an alternative “favoured by many academics” and ends with longstanding OA advocate Prof. Stevan Harnad, of Southampton University, who sees the government response as a missed opportunity to move to a cost-free green OA model and cut out the publishers altogether.

RCUK block grants for OA

Alongside the BIS announcement, Research Councils UK also released a response to the Finch report yesterday in the form of a new Open Access policy:

The new policy, which will apply to all qualifying publications being submitted for publication from 1 April 2013, states that peer reviewed research papers which result from research that is wholly or partially funded by the Research Councils:

  • must be published in journals which are compliant with Research Council policy on Open Access, and;
  • must include details of the funding that supported the research, and a statement on how the underlying research materials such as data, samples or models can be accessed.

Criteria which journals must fulfill to be compliant with the Research Councils’ Open Access policy are detailed within the policy, but include offering a “pay to publish” option or allowing deposit in a subject or institutional repository after a mandated maximum embargo period.

RCUK says it will provide a “block grant” to institutions to cover the costs of APCs arising from its funded work. Details on what this might be and how it will work are still to be discussed with organisations, but one possibility is that it will be linked to overall amount of grant funding received from research councils.


Wikipedia founder to advise UK government on open access research

The Guardian reports today that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has been called upon by the UK’s coalition government to help make all taxpayer-funded research openly accessible. Universities minister, David Willetts, wants Wales to advise on the Research Councils’ Gateway to Research, previewed in the Innovation and Research strategy last year. Wales, a strong advocate of openly accessible knowledge, will also advise on the format of research papers and recent moves to make underlying research data openly accessible.

This latest development comes in the context of a grass-roots campaign by academics to boycott large research publishers such as Elsevier on the grounds that they charge high prices for access to publicly funded research. Some of these large companies are even encouraging students to buy essays online. Campaigners also claim that their business practices force libraries into buying “bundles” of journals, some of which they don’t want.

Harvard University has also sent a memo to all teaching and research staff describing the “untenable situation” wherein large journal publishers have made “the scholarly communication environment fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive”. Alongside the announcement by Wellcome Trust requiring all of their funded research to be made publicly available, this adds to the growing sense that there could be a seismic shift in the academic publishing landscape sooner rather than later.

*UPDATE* 03/05/2012: Research Professional reports that, in Willetts’ speech, he suggests that open access may become an excellence criterion in the next REF: Full text of Willetts’ speech on open access [PDF].