RLUK welcomes the publication today of a new Open Access (OA) policy applying to research outputs that result from UKRI funding. The new policy is the result of an extensive consultation period during which the views of all relevant stakeholders – including the research library community and RLUK – were sought and heard.

The new policy is clearly informed by the consultation and represents an evolutionary development of the current policies covering Research Council-funded research outputs.  Within the new policy, RLUK is particularly pleased to see:

  • A single, consistent policy covering all UKRI-funded output
  • A continued commitment to move to 100%, embargo-free open access;
  • The support of both green and gold OA as valid routes to compliance;
  • A commitment from UKRI to maintain block grants to institutions in support the policy;
  • Clarity that the use of those grants to pay APCs for articles in ‘hybrid’ journals that are not part of a transitional agreement will not be permitted; 
  • Acknowledgment of the vital role that rights play in scholarly communications and a requirement that both versions of record and author’s accepted manuscripts should carry the most liberal rights appropriate;
  • Encouragement for the use of OA preprints to facilitate open research practices; 
  • A measured approach to long-form works, although we note that the challenges around OA for these outputs are significantly different to those of journal articles.

RLUK and our members look forward to discussions over the coming months with UKRI on issues around allocation and management of block grants, reporting requirements, and management of exceptions. We will also work with our members to ensure that institutional repositories meet the technical requirements outlined in the policy.

Twenty years ago, the Budapest Open Access Initiative described the move to open access as unlocking ‘an unprecedented public good’. Providing access to research outputs reduces inequalities, encourages economic growth and knowledge transfer, and promotes rapid innovation (seen most dramatically over the last 18 months in the unprecedented speed with which vaccines against COVID-19 have been developed). As a result of open access policies over the past two decades, the UK has made great strides in ensuring its research outputs are available to all interested readers. This new policy from UKRI will help accelerate that change and move us closer to 100% open access.