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Wellcome, transformative agreements and rights retention

Catherine Sharp5 March 2021

With the start of the new Wellcome open access policy this year, we began to see a change in the way UCL’s Wellcome-funded authors think about open access. Wellcome authors have always been very well-informed about the Wellcome’s policy. Now they’re taking note, before submission, of which journals have adopted a Wellcome-compliant policy. They’re telling us that this is playing a key part in their choice of journal.

Although this post is about the Wellcome policy, we expect other funders to introduce similar policies, and our transformative agreements are available to most UCL corresponding authors.  A number of European funders have already adopted the Plan S Rights Retention Strategy, which we’ll explain below.

Wellcome authors: can I publish gold open access?

Wellcome-funded papers can be published gold open access (open access on the publisher’s website, with the CC BY licence) where the journal is:

  1. fully open access (see the Directory of Open Access Journals)
  2. in one of our transformative agreements, or
  3. a transformative journal.

Other research papers can be made open access on publication, but most need to rely on the Wellcome’s Rights Retention Strategy.

To find out what options are available to you, and whether you can publish gold open access, start on our new Wellcome webpages, using the tools there to do a few quick checks.

  • If you’re thinking of submitting to a fully open access journal, the key thing is to make sure that it’s listed in DOAJ.
  • For subscription journals, start by checking our list of transformative agreements. We now have 25 agreements with a range of publishers, including small/society publishers like Bioscientifica, Portland Press, Company of Biologists and Future Science. They cover more than 6,200 journals.

The Journal Checker Tool that’s being developed (it’s available in beta at the moment) can help you to understand whether particular journals offer a compliant option, and if you need to rely on the fallback of the Rights Retention Strategy (see below).

Once you’ve used these resources, do get in touch with us if you’re not sure how to proceed.

“I want to submit to…”

Here are a few real-world examples of journals that authors have asked us about recently. Thanks especially to authors from ICH for most of these.

  • Nature Communications. This is a fully open access journal, listed in DOAJ. We can pay the charges, provided the paper meets our eligibility criteria.
  • Human Mutation. This is a subscription journal that’s included in our Wiley transformative agreement. You’ll find it in our list of journals in transformative agreements. We can pay the charges, provided the paper is eligible to use our transformative agreements (based on corresponding authorship and type of paper).
  • Genetics in Medicine. This is a subscription journal that’s just been added to our Springer transformative agreement.
  • British Journal of Psychiatry. This is a subscription journal. Although we don’t have a transformative agreement with the publisher, Cambridge University Press, the journal is listed as a transformative journal. We can pay the open access charges for Wellcome-funded papers that meet our eligibility criteria.
  • Archives of Disease in Childhood. This is a subscription journal that’s in our new BMJ transformative agreement. This agreement only applies to papers funded by UKRI, Wellcome or a small number of other medical funders.
  • Human Molecular Genetics. This is a subscription journal that’s included in our new Oxford University Press transformative agreement.
  • Bioscientifica journals, e.g. Journal of Endocrinology, Journal of Molecular Endocrinology, Endocrine-Related Cancer, European Journal of Endocrinology and Reproduction. These journals are included in our Bioscientifica transformative agreement.
  • Lancet subscription journals. Most Lancet journals are subscription journals. Although they don’t allow authors to make their accepted manuscripts open access in Europe PubMed Central on publication, Wellcome-funded authors retain the right to do this under the Wellcome’s Rights Retention Strategy (see below).

What are transformative journals? Are they the same as transformative agreements?

cOAlition S recognises journals as transformative if they meet specific criteria for transitioning to open access. This includes an annual increase in open access content of 5%, and a commitment to becoming fully open access when 75% of the content is published open access.

If a subscription journal is in one of our transformative agreements, the costs have been paid up front and authors can publish open access (provided the paper is eligible: this depends on things like the corresponding author’s affiliation and the type of paper.) If the journal isn’t in an agreement, but is considered a transformative journal, we can pay the open access charges if the paper is funded by a Wellcome grant held at UCL. This applies to 160 Elsevier journals, as well as Cambridge University Press journals.

How does Rights Retention work?

If you’re publishing in a subscription journal that isn’t in one of UCL’s transformative agreements, and isn’t a transformative journal, you’ll probably need to rely on Rights Retention. This isn’t necessary if your publisher allows immediate open access to the manuscript in an open access repository under the CC BY licence. Royal Society is an example of a publisher that allows this.

The Wellcome and Plan S Rights Retention Strategy gives authors a prior right, regardless of any publisher terms and conditions to the contrary, to make their accepted manuscripts open access on publication in an open access repository like Europe PubMed Central, with the CC BY licence. Contrary to what some publishers have been telling authors, it’s not possible for a publisher to override this permission, or for the author to waive the rights.

The author includes the Wellcome’s new mandatory text in their submission. If the article is published, the rights apply, and the author can deposit the paper in Europe PubMed Central on publication with the required CC BY licence.

All Wellcome-funded papers must now include the following statement when they submit to a journal. (You’ll find this on our webpages, too.)

This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust [Grant number]. For the purpose of Open Access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.

What about other funders?

UKRI will be announcing their new UKRI open access policy soon. There will be a review of the open access policy for the next REF (or a different future assessment exercise), but the current requirements will continue to apply until any new policy is announced.

We’ll keep advising authors on our transformative agreements, and on all types of open access, through all these changes. Our webpages have been completely overhauled to try to communicate, as clearly as possible, all the many policies, funding and opportunities to publish open access that affect UCL authors. We’ve just put the icing on the cake by launching a new home page that we hope will help you find your way around all this information as easily as possible.

New Year open access reflections

Catherine Sharp11 January 2021

Fireworks over Eiffel Tower.Whether you were tucked up in bed early on New Year’s Eve 2020, or come midnight enjoyed what limited indulgences are available nowadays, there’s no doubt that many of us are keen to put 2020 firmly behind us. Here in UCL’s Office for Open Science and Scholarship (OOSS) 2021 appears bright, with lots of exciting developments in open research and open access coming up; but we wanted to spend our first post of the new year unfashionably looking back, and highlighting some of the great things that happened in open access in 2020.

Without further ado, here’s a rundown of some of UCL’s 2020 open access highlights.

Finally – not a number, but an achievement for the Open Access Team nonetheless – we overhauled our open access funding webpages, Wellcome and other funders webpages, and in fact most of our online guidance. Since open access continues to be rather complex, to say the least, we also added a glossary to the webpages. We’ll be making more improvements soon, but hope that you’ve found these ones useful so far.

I’d like to say a thank you to my magnificent colleagues, who’ve processed such huge numbers of papers and kept on top of the ever-growing numbers of enquiries about open access: hard to count, but probably up to a hundred questions every day, many of them very complicated. Thanks also to everyone in the UCL community who works with us to make open access happen. Look out for new transformative agreements coming soon, and very best wishes for a good 2021.

Wellcome Trust OA policy and DORA webinar – summary and links

Kirsty17 December 2020

On Wednesday 16th December the UCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship hosted a webinar focussing on the forthcoming Wellcome Trust Open Access policy, with particular reference to DORA, as well as how we are making progress towards fully being able to meet its terms.

Our first speaker was David Carr from the Wellcome trust who talked about the development of the Open Access focussed teams inside Wellcome Trust before outlining the new policy in full and describing in detail the elements which are distinct from the previous policy as shown in the image below.

David then moved on to describing the background to Wellcome’s commitment to responsible research evaluation, and the decision to include DORA in the new policy. He also described the feedback and redrafting process that it went through thanks to the feedback from the community.

Following on from David, we had a talk from Dr Ralitsa Madsen, who shared her experiences as a junior researcher around the issue of research evaluation and especially its relationship with transparency and Open Science.  She has worked with Chris Chambers of the UKRN to develop a policy template for funders to try and encourage more adoption, but also make it easier for them to adopt, by providing a ready-made solution!

We then turned to the Library Services contingent of the webinar speakers, starting out with Dr Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost for Library Services and the Office for Open Science and Scholarship. Paul walked us through the development of the UCL responsible metrics policy and the ways that it is being implemented in HR, recruitment and promotions processes.

Catherine Sharp, Head of Open Access Services followed up with a whistle-stop tour of the changes that have been made to the Open Access processes in order to support academic staff to meet the terms of the new policy, including numerous transformative arrangements with different publishers.

At the end of the webinar we had one remaining question which we put to David after the session:

What do ‘appropriate sanctions’ look like?

David’s response: There’s actually no change on this – the sanctions are actually already in place, and will remain as are when the new policy comes into effect in January.

Essentially we monitor compliance at end-of-grant reporting stage and when researchers apply for new funding.  If a researcher has non-compliant papers, then we will not activate new grants or funding renewals until any non-compliant Wellcome papers have been made open access.  Where papers reported in an end of grant report are not compliant, we will also not accept any new grant applications from that researcher until this has been resolved.  In extreme cases, we also have the option to suspend funding to a whole organisation.  See: https://wellcome.org/grant-funding/guidance/open-access-guidance/complying-with-our-open-access-policy

The recording is available below and also on MediaCentral.

Open Access Week: Policies to free your research

Kirsty22 October 2020

What’s new in Open Access?

2020 has been a bumper year in open access. There have been policy developments, new opportunities for Gold open access and more open access outputs than ever – and there’s even more to come in 2021. This week we’ve launched completely updated funding and REF sections of our website to support authors with all these changes, and there will be more new guidance soon. For now, though, we’d like to share a roundup of what’s been going on in open access recently, and to make a special request to SLMS researchers (scroll to the bottom) for advice on a new transformative agreement for PLOS journals.

Policies: Wellcome and Rights Retention

We’ve been talking about Plan S for a couple of years now, since it was announced in September 2018. Now, though, we’re preparing for the first Plan S policy to come into effect. Wellcome Trust-funded research papers submitted from New Year’s Day 2021 need to be made open access as soon as they’re published. 

If you have Wellcome funding, this won’t be news to you. Read on, though, for something that is completely new: Rights Retention, allowing you to publish in any journal and make your papers open access straight away.

As a reminder, from 2021 Wellcome authors can publish in:

  1. fully open access journals or platforms (such as Wellcome Open Research).
  2. subscription journals that allow them to make their final accepted manuscript open access in Europe PubMed Central at the time of publication.
  3. subscription journals that are included in UCL’s transformative agreements – more on these below.

Wellcome will provide a Journal Checker Tool (coming shortly) to help authors work out where and how to publish. We’ll support Wellcome researchers with our new Wellcome webpages, payments for journals in categories 1 and 3 above, and advice on individual papers and journals. The big change, though, is…

Rights Retention

This might not sound exciting, but it could be a hugely important shift that’ll enable researchers to keep control of their work, and make it open access when it’s published. The Wellcome is the first funder to adopt it. Here’s how it works.

  1. A Plan S funder like Wellcome changes its grant conditions to include a new provision that grantholders automatically grant a CC BY public copyright licence to their accepted manuscripts.
  2. The funder notifies key publishers (Wellcome has contacted 150 publishers) asking them to allow all authors to make their manuscripts available on publication with a CC BY licence. Even if a publisher doesn’t do that, the letter gives them notice of the funder’s open access requirements. This means that the CC BY licence on the accepted manuscript takes legal precedence over any later licence to publish or copyright transfer agreement that an author signs.
  3. The funder requires authors to include a statement in all submissions that notifies the publisher about the funding. Here’s the statement that Wellcome authors must now use:

Wellcome statement required on submissionThis allows Wellcome authors to publish in any journal, even if it’s not a fully open access journal and there’s no transformative agreement. There’s more information about this on the Wellcome’s webpages, and on Plan S’s Rights Retention page.

Other open access and open data policies

Other funders’ open access policies are likely to change in the near future. We’re expecting a new UKRI open access policy next year, and a new REF policy after that. Cancer Research UK has said that it’ll require immediate open access from January 2022. Plan S members, including the EC as part of Horizon Europe, are implementing Rights Retention. So stay up to date with your funder’s requirements – there’s a tool called Sherpa Juliet that helps with this – and check our webpages for all the latest information.

Both funding agencies and publishers also have open data policies setting out expectations, and in many cases requirements, for researchers. It’s a good idea to be aware of these when submitting a paper, or a grant proposal. These policies have the general theme of ensuring that when research is published all of the raw data which underpins the main results and conclusions is made available to as great an extent as possible.  Funding agencies and publishers want to ensure that data is open in order to maintain high standards of reproducibility and transparency. Open data allows published results to be confirmed and tested by others, a much more stringent check of research quality than can realistically be offered by the peer review process. For a publisher this can also help to uphold their reputation and avoid scandals or high-profile retractions. Funding agencies also have an interest in ensuring maximum return on their investment, and encourage data sharing partly so that the output of the research they funded can be re-used as widely as possible by other researchers and beyond academia.

When you publish with a particular journal or submit a funding application to a particular agency always check their specific policies carefully to avoid any problems or delays. Information on funding agency policies is available on our webpages.

Transformative agreements

We’ve written about them before, but we make no apology for repeating ourselves. These new agreements are designed to help with the transition to full open access that funders want. UCL’s agreements currently cover just over 5,000 journals; they enable all, or most, research papers in those journals with a UCL corresponding author to be made open access on publication.

In these agreements, upfront payments fund publishing as well as access to content, helping universities and publishers move away from the old subscription model. The rub is that most agreements still cost more than subscriptions did, but funders are supporting them for a transitional period. We’re currently assessing new agreements for 2021. Can we afford these agreements long-term? Will they lead to journals becoming fully open access? We’ll see.

SLMS researchers: can you help us to help you?

By and large, researchers like the opportunities for open access publishing that transformative agreements provide. However, the agreements tend to favour traditional subscription publishers. The latest development, though, is a new model that might redress the balance a bit: PLOS’s Community Action Model for publishing in PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology. This is a collective, potentially more sustainable way of funding two highly-selective open access journals without individual open access payments (APCs). We need to decide whether to be part of it, and we need your help. If you publish in biomedicine or medicine, please tell us: if we support this new model, and guarantee funding to publish in PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology, would you be more likely to submit there? Get in touch with us to tell us your view, or to find out more.