An optimal balance of Green and Gold: what do our stakeholders think?

balance by Hans Splinter CC BY-ND 2.0

This was originally posted on our Jisc OA Pathfinder blog. Our project seeks to “develop shared tools and best practice policies and procedures to enable HEIs with limited external funding to effectively and creatively respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by recent Open Access policies”.

balance by Hans Splinter CC BY-ND 2.0
balance by Hans Splinter CC BY-ND 2.0

“Last week Ellen Cole and I travelled up to Edinburgh to take part in the Repository Fringe, an annual event for information professionals, developers, repository and research managers to discuss and share ideas and issues around repositories and open access.

Along with the other Jisc OA Pathfinders, we were asked to talk about our project and the work we plan to do. Our workshop focused on a few key questions which have arisen from our project team’s initial discussions as well as the work that we’ve already undertaken around open access advocacy and policy development:

  1. In our institutional OA policymaking, do we aim to strike an “optimal balance” between Green and Gold OA, or do we favour one over the other?
  2. Do all stakeholders in our institutions see this the same way as us?
  3. As institutions with limited resources to address the challenges posed by OA, can we use these policies to positively influence other aspects of our institutional culture, e.g. publishing behaviour?

After a brief introduction to these questions and the project, the participants split into groups and discussed who the key open access stakeholders were in each of their institutions, what their motivations were for engaging with OA, and what they wanted to achieve with OA. Each table-based group included a mix of institutions and perspectives, including participants from HEFCE, RCUK, JISC and other non-HEIs so there was a really good mix of views. Here are a few commonly occurring stakeholders, grouped by internal/external to HEIs:

Internal HE Stakeholders

  • Research admin/managers
  • Library staff
  • IT
  • Finance
  • University/Faculty/School senior managers
  • Researchers (but see below on the distinctions that can be drawn here)
  • Legal office
  • Comms/Marketing
  • Students (but these could also be users)

External HE

  • General public
  • Research users (e.g. charities, government, industry, SMEs)
  • Funders
  • Publishers
  • Collaborators

Some of the key motivations for OA are captured below:

  • Increasing citations
  • Developing research collaborations
  • Increasing research income
  • Policy compliance
  • Preservation and archiving
  • Demonstrating impact
  • Making researchers aware of the costs of publishing
  • Giving access to research


Following this, groups were then asked to position the stakeholders on a continuum from Green to Gold OA. This was a deliberately blunt tool, as often a particular stakeholders’ position with respect to Green/Gold differs depending on the context, but it was nevertheless effective in starting a conversation about the different needs and drivers of the various people involved.

This exercise prompted some interesting discussions, such as whether “researchers” could count as a single stakeholder or whether we need to distinguish between different research disciplines and career stages with regards to OA. One of the groups which I took part in felt we couldn’t simply lump them together, for example because some STEM disciplines may feel more comfortable and familiar with a Green route to OA, while senior researchers may want funding for Gold to ensure the highest possible impact from their work.

A couple of groups distinguished between Researchers-as-producers/authors and Researchers-as-readers, and felt that the former group would sit more towards the Green end of the spectrum and the latter at the Gold end.

In the concluding feedback session there was a diverse range of opinions, including the view that it’s not possible to strike a balance between all of the stakeholders involved! Here are a few thoughts from participants grouped by area to give a flavour of the discussion:


  • The public don’t really care whether it’s green or gold – they just want access!
  • Where different stakeholders sit on the Green/Gold spectrum is difficult to tease out and depends on motivation.
  • Within group differences outweigh between group differences
  • Within some groups there are different hats, eg costing, research managers.


  • Two groups: funders and publishers aren’t getting involved in the messy business of implementation
  • The only person who benefits from Gold in the long run is the publisher.
  • Ideological discussions: should we be asking publishers to give a transparent breakdown of Gold costs?


  • Discipline specific differences: In one institution it was felt that Law just want to publish – and don’t care about OA, but at Northumbria the School of Law is setting up OA journals.
  • Green/Gold OA doesn’t matter to (some) academics – they’re interested in status of journal


  • Funders: Wellcome wanted to be Gold so provided a wider framework.
  • Wellcome researchers just rely on Wellcome to publish and perhaps don’t deposit?

We’d like to thank everyone who came along and participated in the session. The debate was really positive and fruitful and we’ll be using the outcomes from this workshop to feed into a survey and our first project workshops, to be taking place in October. As always, we’ll keep the blog updated so if you’re interested in following the progress of the project please either bookmark this page or subscribe to the blog.”


10,000th Item Deposited in Northumbria Open Access Repository

My 10000th public image on Flickr by Leo Reynolds CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Northumbria Research Link (NRL), the University’s Open Access Repository for research outputs and publications, has recently passed a milestone of 10,000 items. As reported in the University’s Insight magazine:

“The landmark 10,000th publication was a paper by Anniversary Research Fellow, Dr Frank Lewis, from the Department of Applied Sciences, on processes which attempt to reduce the radioactive lifetime of used nuclear fuels by separating out the hazardous radioactive elements.

In the last year almost 150,000 items were downloaded from the repository by more than 100,000 visitors to its website, with significant numbers based in the USA, India and China.

Almost 30,000 downloads originated in the United States, with 8,000 from India and 7,000 from China. These three countries alone account for approximately 30% of downloads from the repository.

Professor Peter Golding, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, said: “These impressive figures confirm the continuous growth in the scale of research activity at Northumbria University and the interest shown in it from all over the world.

“In the past twelve months alone, more than 4,000 new research outputs have been placed in Northumbria Research Link. The sheer volume increase in deposits shows that growth in the quality and quantity of research undertaken by our staff is creating international interest in what we do.””

If you’re a researcher at Northumbria and you’d like to find out more about the repository, why you should use it, and how to upload your research to it, Library staff run periodic training via the HR People Development programme. Alternatively, you can contact the NRL Site Administrator.


Check Your Open Access Compliance With SHERPA/FACT

Following the recent RCUK announcements on their open access policy, it’s becoming increasingly important for academic authors to ensure that the places they publish comply with funder OA policies.

RCUK and Wellcome Trust have jointly sponsored SHERPA/FACT (Funders’ and Authors’ Compliance Tool) which can help you to check whether the journal you want to publish in complies with the Open Access policies of the funder of your research. The tool itself is a simple text field where you identify the journal you want to publish in. You also need to select the relevant funder using a check box and the article status (i.e. whether it has been submitted for publication or not).

For example, say you’ve been funded by the Wellcome Trust and want to publish an article in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, you’d simply fill in the details and you’d get the results page below which clearly shows that you are able to comply with the funder’s open access policy because the funder will deposit your article in the Europe PMC open access repository either at the time of publication (paid option) or six months following publication:



Another example: an ESRC-funded publication in the Journal of Social Policy would not be able to comply with the funder OA policy unless they paid for the open access publication option:



This is a recently released Beta version of the tool and SHERPA encourage feedback to:


HEFCE Seeks Advice on Post-2014 REF Open Access Proposals

Open Access by AJ Cann CC BY-NC-SA 2.0HEFCE (alongside the other three UK HE funding bodies) is inviting responses and advice on its proposals for open-access publication in the next research assessment cycle (i.e. after the 2014 REF – this consultation will have no bearing on the current REF).

HEFCE: Open Access and submissions to the REF post-2014 [PDF]

The proposals re-state the importance of open access publication in the future higher education policy landscape, however they do not express any preference for gold vs. green OA and essentially propose to leave it up to individual institutions to decide which of these routes is preferable.

The three key criteria for open access are:

  1. deposited in the author’s own institutional repository immediately upon publication, although the repository may provide access in a way that respects agreed embargos;
  2. made available as the final peer reviewed text, though not necessarily identical to the publisher’s edited and formatted version; and
  3. presented in a form allowing the reader to search for and re-use content (including by download and for text-mining) both manually and using automated tools, provided such re-use is subject to proper attribution under appropriate licensing

They are looking for advice and comments specifically on the following issues:

  • The expectations for open access publication, as set out in the three criteria above
  • Repository use and techniques for institutional repositories to cross-refer to subject and other repositories
  • Embargoes and licensing as these issues relate to open access publication
  • Exceptions to the above principles, and how to handle them
  • The issue of monographs and whether these should be exempt from OA requirements
  • The issue of open data, which is not expected to be made a requirement for the next REF

The deadline for responding to this consultation is 25th March 2013. The details of how to respond are given in the open letter.


ESRC to fund new national digital repository for social and economic data

Social science researchers may be interested in an announcement by ESRC that it will be investing £17 million over five years  in a new data archive service to support researchers in academia, business, third sector and  government.  ESRC states that the new service will provide a unified point of access to a wide range of  economic and social data, including  census data.  It is designed to provide seamless access and support to meet the current and future research demands of both academic and non-academic users, and to help them maximise the impact of their work.

The UK Data Service will be created from the integration of the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), the Census Programme, the Secure Data Service and other elements of the data service infrastructure currently provided by the ESRC. The integration follows an economic evaluation of ESDS, which reveals that for every pound currently invested in data and infrastructure, the service returns £5.40 in net economic value to users and other stakeholders. This compares favourably with the return on investment previously demonstrated for the British Library and for UK academic libraries in general.

It isn’t clear from the announcement exactly how this will affect the UK Data Archive, which will be included in the new service, or researchers who deposit their research data in it.

For more information, see the ESRC’s announcement at


Blogging and Tweeting Academic Research

There was an interesting post on the LSE Impact Blog last week which describes one academic’s experiences using blogging and tweets to highlight her research, which she made freely available in her institution’s open access repository:

The verdict: is blogging and tweeting research papers worth it?

As Melissa Terras explains, the bottom line is that tweeting and blogging about her papers prompted a significant increase in the number of downloads: from one or two downloads per paper to 70 on average! It also means that Melissa is author on 7 out of 10 of the most downloaded papers from her department on the UCL Discovery repository.

Of course this is just one person’s experience and we should be careful in drawing any conclusions about the value of blogging and tweeting academic research from this case study. For instance, the experience could be different in different disciplines and the effect of the “long tail” on actual citations has not yet been realised, as Melissa herself admits. Even so, it’s a timely reminder of the increasing importance of engagement with social media for researchers.

Northumbria staff who wish to emulate Melissa’s experiment could start by looking at Northumbria Research Link – make sure your research papers (at least the reference metadata) is uploaded and accessible. You’ll need to check compliance with publisher policies if you want to upload the full text. Once done you can set up a blog, either using a free provider such as WordPress or Blogger, or contacting LTech and asking them to set up a blog on the subdomain. Create an account on Twitter and remember to read the useful hints and tips in the guidance from LSE Impact Blog about academic tweeting.