Towards the end of 2014, a consultation was issued inviting views on the potential development of a tool which would help HEIs ensure that their research outputs were compliant with the HEFCE policy for research outputs ahead of the next REF. The report summarising the consultation messages and next steps is now available.
The idea is that a tool would link to the SHERPA tools already available. In Cardiff, we tend to point people towards SHERPA/ROMEO to check their journal’s latest Open Access policy.
Unsurprisingly, when asked if people would like help in working out whether they were ‘REF compliant’, they said yes. Also unsurprisingly, respondents to the consultation indicated that any system developed to help in this area should be simple and up to date.
There is some suggestion that such a tool may be able to capture historic compliance of journals as well as provide advice about what to do if their output isn’t REF compliant. However, there were also calls to develop a tool which does the basics really well, rather than trying to do everything and not quite delivering.
To what extent though, are we forfeiting our institutional judgement if we end up relying on a tool to tell us our research complies with a policy? Shouldn’t researchers be engaged with the concept of Open Access enough to be able to do this themselves, and Institutions set up to support compliance without the need of additional tools?
HEFCE Open Access Policy post-REF2014, published in July 2014, is available here.