Open Access and Funder Mandates – support for compliance

The Wellcome Trust held an event yesterday (24th Sept 2009) on Open Access and Funder Mandates at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre on Euston Road. This drew together representatives of research funders, institutional research support offices and institutional repository managers to discuss compliance with funder mandates. This is a very useful mix of roles: it is this collection of people that will make funders’ mandates work in practice.

Robert Kiley, Head of Digital Services at the Wellcome Library, characterised the main issue when he reported that compliance with OA grant conditions for Wellcome Trust authors was only running at 36% or thereabouts (although the percentage was climbing). How could compliance with all funders’ mandates be raised, to achieve the OA benefits they are meant to bring?

One significant difficulty was identified as a lack of clarity for academics in what, quite, to do in order to comply: another was the ready identification, by authors and by institutions, of funding for OA publication charges where these are necessary.

After presentations and discussions, the joint response was for developing support structures and information; improving workflows and clarity; and for increasing collaboration between funders, research support offices, and other institutional staff. All these efforts are vital if we are to move forward.

Teasing out some of the ideas and proposals:

* authors need to be alerted to the need for compliance and its importance as a part of their funding requirements. This is a task for research support offices as much as for libraries and their other open access work.

* institutional mechanisms to check compliance have to be put in place. Someone needs to know what outputs have come from a grant and check that publishers have filled their contracts by making them openly accessible, or that the author has complied in some other way. Who is that someone and where do they get their information? There is an explicit responsibility on institutions from the Wellcome Trust to check compliance: OA support staff (typically repository managers), research support offices and funders can and should work together on solving this.

* funding for OA charges is in place within grants from most funders (and all of the UKPMC funders except Cancer Research UK). Identifying or reserving this funding is a task for institutions – and then support has to be given to make sure that authors are given clear and step-by-step instructions for using this funding. Establishing a central OA fund is one option to assist this.

* authors need a single smooth, supported workflow to allow them to comply with mandates, with relevant information on their responsibilities, the options they have and the funding available to them.

The presentations from this event are available from the UKPMC Blogspot . I was invited to speak on the University of Nottingham’s experience in creating a central fund for OA publication charges and on using RoMEO and JULIET to support processes. Chad Pillinger spoke on administering such a fund at Cambridge University – a clear workflow; Robert Kiley spoke on funder policies, including a very concise summary of the common features of UKPMC funders’ policies; Alison Henning, Ernie Ong and Paul Davey previewed developments to UKPMC and Nicola Perrin led the discussion groups which developed our thinking during the day.

Bill Hubbard

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This is the JISC blog for research, or scholarly, communications. By this we mean the ways in which academic researchers share their findings with each other and with the wider world, including aspects of dissemination, access, certification, quality control, preservation, and approaches to recognition and reward. The blog’s authors are Bill Hubbard (JISC Research Communications Strategist), Fred Friend (JISC Scholarly Communications consultant) and me, Neil Jacobs (JISC Programme Manager). We look forward to using this blog to let you know about some of the work JISC and others are doing in this area, and to encourage informed debate of the many issues that arise.