UKRI-funded research to be published in open access journals

06 Aug 2021 | News

The funding agency is to spend £46.7 million every year to cover the costs of the new policy

Scientific papers stemming from projects funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) shall be published in open access journals, the funding agency has announced today, following a global trend in moving away from subscription models in science publishing.

UKRI’s updated policy requires immediate open access for peer-reviewed research articles submitted for publication from 1 April 2022. It also includes a new requirement for monographs, book chapters and edited collections published from 1 January 2024 to be made open access within 12 months of publication.

“Opening up the UK’s research system so that it is accessible to all will be crucial in underpinning collaborative, world class research and accelerating new discoveries,” said science minister Amanda Solloway.

The new UKRI open access policy mirrors efforts led by the EU to make research papers funded with public money to be openly available.

The “Plan S” has been established in 2018 by cOAlition S, a consortium a consortium of national research agencies and funders from 12 European countries. Since then, the EU has mandated that all papers coming from projects funded through Horizon Europe, its €95.5 billion research programme, should be published in open access journals.

“After the European Commission, another heavy-weight funder with multi-billion dollar annual investments in research and innovation is now adopting a strong [open access] policy,” said Marc Schiltz, chair of the cOAlition S leaders’ group and president of Science Europe.

UKRI has worked with higher education funding bodies to ensure their future open access policies future would align with the new policy. In addition, the agency will spend up to £46.7 million every year to cover the costs of the new policy.

“Through the increased funding we are providing in support of the new policy we aim to ensure researchers and research organisations are sustainably supported to implement open access and achieve value for money,” said Sir Duncan Wingham, UKRI executive champion for open research.

Science publishers in the UK welcomed the policy but raised concerns about phasing out subscription models. “Significant concerns remain about the alternative route to journal publication which UKRI has endorsed today,” said Stephen Lotinga, CEO of the Publishers Association. “This green open access route is unsustainably linked to subscription models and could undermine efforts to continue to publish research to the high standards of quality the UK is known for.”

Lotinga said the agency should help smaller publishers to comply with the new policy. “We stand ready to work with UKRI and research institutions in the coming months to ensure sustainable open access can be delivered.”

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