Harnad Response to HEFCE REF OA Policy Consultation.
I. The HEFCE proposal to mandate immediate repository deposit of articles as a condition for eligibility for REF is excellent. If adopted and effectively implemented, it will serve as a model for OA mandates worldwide. It will also reinforce and complement the RCUK OA mandates, providing it with a uniform compliance monitoring and verification mechanism.
II. The immediate-deposit mandate should apply to the refereed, accepted version of peer-reviewed research articles (or refereed conference articles).
III. The deposit should be in the author’s institutional repository, immediately upon acceptance for publication. Acceptance date is determinate; publication date is variable and indeterminate and may lag acceptance by as much as two years.
IV. Access to the deposit should be immediately OA where possible, or, where deemed necessary, it can be made Closed Access if the publisher requires an OA embargo.
V. Repositories should implement the eprint request Button that allows individual users to request – and others to provide – one copy for research purposes with one click each.
VI. Once any allowable embargo period elapses, OA deposits can be accessed, read, searched, linked, downloaded, printed out, stored, and locally data-mined by individual users, as well as harvested and indexed for Boolean search by harvesters like Google. This makes license policy less urgent. Further re-use rights will come when OA mandates have made OA universal.
VII. What is crucial is that the deposit should be made at time of acceptance, time-stamped as such, with a copy of the acceptance letter to serve as the date marker.
VIII. Unlike articles, monographs are not all author give-aways, published solely for research impact rather than royalty outcome; and researchers need to have exclusive first data-mining rights on the data they collect. So monograph and data deposit should only be recommended for the time being, not mandatory; access to the deposits can be set as Closed Access.
IX. The start date for 2020 REF eligibility should be immediately after the 2014 REF, not two years afterward.
X. The target should be 100% compliance. Exceptions can be dealt with on a case by case basis: It would be a great mistake to stipulate a percentage compliance figure instead.
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