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The UK recently decided that from 2014, all research papers supported by public funds must be published in open-access journals. For instance, the Research Councils UK announced a new policy stating that:

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
  • 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.

My question is the following: what could concretely happen if someone does not respect this policy? For instance, if someone publishes both in open-access and in paywall journals, does that mean that only those in open-access count in the report to the RCUK? Or does that mean that you can get "black-listed" if you publish in paywall journals?

EDIT: Directly related question: what happen if one publishes a paper in a paywall journal and publishes at the same time the pre-print on a freely accessible archive?

1 Answer 1

My guess is that non-open access publications will not be able to be counted towards the REF (or whatever replaces the REF), used in annual progress reports, or be considered by grant reviewers when evaluating your track record. If Research Councils (RCs) catch you publishing in a non-open access journal, they likely will be able to charge the university for the costs associated with making it open access and possibly black list you from further funding.

I think these punishments will be rare, because I don't think the UK RC model is very different from the US NIH model. The US model requires open access after an embargo period. It is not clear if the UK model allows for an embargo. The US system allows for the version accepted by the journal, but not yet copy edited and typeset by the journal, to be made open access. Many journals just make the final copy available after the embargo, but not all do. It sounds like the UK system will require a creative commons licensing, which I think would allow publishers to copy edit, typeset and sell the open access version. Complying with the US regulations is relatively easy, so I doubt it will be hard to comply with the UK regulations.