Business, Innovation and Skills CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by the Council for College and University English and the English Association

Summary

The discipline of English in the UK has a strong track record of working to disseminate its research to the widest possible audience and supports the aims of open access advocated in the Finch Report. However, we believe that the gold model currently favoured by RCUK does not provide the best means of achieving these aims in our discipline. An insistence on gold access would threaten the quality and sustainability of our thriving research culture, whereas a green or hybrid model would enable us to maintain broad-based research communities and dissemination opportunities whilst safeguarding the future of the discipline. We recommend that the green model is given unequivocal backing alongside gold and that greater attention is given to mechanisms for making it work effectively. These include the development of an integrated range of platforms for accessing research, including university repositories and public libraries.

Introduction

1. This joint submission by the two main UK subject associations in English highlights distinctive features of academic publishing in this field and explains why most researchers believe the green model offers the best way of meeting the objectives of open access whilst preserving the quality and range of journal publication in the discipline.

2. We call for stronger and more consistent support from HEFCE and RCUK for the green model, and highlight some practical considerations regarding the implementation of both the green and gold models.

3. We also comment on the position of learned societies in our field, some of which rely on income from journal subscriptions to support their research activities. To illustrate the points made, we attach three case studies of representative English journals, two of which are linked to learned societies or subject associations. The case studies were commissioned by CCUE and the EA for this purpose, and written by the editors concerned. The differences between them illustrate the different perceptions of open access policy and the variety of strategies proposed. We ask that this diversity of approach be encouraged rather than a single prescriptive model being enforced.

4. Finally, we draw attention to the vulnerability of postgraduates and early career researchers under a policy that currently favours the gold over the green model. We do so by including as a fourth appendix a letter from representatives of these groups which expresses their concerns and calls for various actions from government and research councils.

The Publishing Context

5. Research publication in English is distinctive in a number of ways. Journals account for only 31% of outputs, the other 69% being made up of books (39%), book chapters (27%) and others (3%) (figures based on RAE2008 submissions). Most outputs are single-authored. A significant proportion of these are by authors without access to APC funding, namely retired staff, authors from outside academic institutions, and postgraduates. Many journals have mixed content, publishing, for example, creative writing alongside academic research, and, usually, a substantial number of reviews which are essential to the health of the field, but which would, presumably, not be funded under APC arrangements.

6. It was acknowledged by Martin Hall at the Westminster Forum meeting on 5 February that the Finch Report had not given enough attention to monographs or fully considered the implications of the green model for the arts and humanities. We call upon the government and RCUK now to give proper attention to these matters and to incorporate into their thinking the radical differences between the publication profiles of different disciplines.

7. Journal subscriptions in English are much less expensive than in most science disciplines. Individual subscriptions are affordable and make up a significant proportion of the lists of many journals. Individual subscriptions are seen not just as a source of revenue but as a way of fostering broad-based research communities.

8. These factors help to explain why most journals in English favour the green (or hybrid) model of open access. This model will help to preserve diversity and enable journals to continue publishing work from different categories of author on equal terms and with regard to quality alone.

9. The publishers we consulted in preparing this submission also envisage that the majority of journals in English will achieve open access compliance via the green or hybrid routes.

Embargo Periods

10. We welcome the flexibility advocated by the Finch Report over the length of embargo periods and note that RCUK, while setting a norm of 6–12 months, recognises that in some instances longer periods are permissible. We ask that this flexibility be preserved and be made more explicit, and suggest that embargo periods of up to 24 months be considered viable.

11. As illustrated by the case studies, journals in English currently operate with a variety of embargo periods. They should be free to do this. It is important that journals are allowed to respond to the changing context and find appropriate models to ensure both sustainability and quality.

12. Authors will take into account embargo periods in choosing where to place their articles and may favour journals with shorter embargo periods since their work will be universally available sooner. The market will therefore exert its own pressure towards shorter embargo periods, which is the government’s objective.

Institutional Repositories

13. Effective institutional repositories are an integral part of the green model and careful attention needs to be given to making them fit for purpose. Repositories need to be easily accessible, fully searchable and properly cross-referenced. Ideally, a consistent platform across HEIs is needed. This will require investment in infrastructure, which could be provided across the sector by JISC or some other consortium.

14. The growth of institutional repositories is also an opportunity to improve access to unpublished PhDs and other archived research. HEIs should be encouraged to seize this opportunity and funds made available to support it.

15. The role of public libraries as outlets for publically-funded research needs further discussion, since this is another form of open access. Some English journals have a general readership and are widely available in public libraries. This should be taken into account in assessing open access compliance.

16. Online access to academic journals via public libraries could be greatly extended if resources were pooled and subscription costs shared. This would provide another form of open access (in addition to institutional repositories) during embargo periods. If business models permitted it, another more radical option would be for journals to consider gifting online subscriptions to public libraries to ensure open access compliance.

17. This would also have the secondary benefit of increasing usage of public libraries at a time when many are threatened with closure.

Learned Societies

18. Many learned societies use the revenue from journals to support other activities including conferences, bursaries, fellowships and prizes. This is entirely appropriate, and some of these activities themselves advance the open access agenda (broadly defined) by making research publicly available. Bursaries, for example, are typically offered to non-salaried researchers (postgraduates and independent scholars) who might not otherwise be able to attend conferences or travel to research libraries and archives. More generally, many learned societies in English are a vital point of contact between the academic community and the literary and intellectual world at large.

19. For these reasons most learned societies with associated journals favour the green or hybrid models. The relationship between learned societies and academic journals needs to be respected not undermined. Successful learned societies able to attract members and generate revenue from journals should be allowed to do so.

Article Processing Charges

20. Clarification is needed as to how APCs processing charges will work, and greater efforts should be made to explain this to the research community. Unanswered questions include: how will RCUK’s willingness to fund APCs influence the publishing market? How will acceptable APC levels be set and monitored as the market adjusts to the new publishing environment? How will postdoctoral researchers and independent scholars be affected?

21. We share the concern expressed by many others about how funds for APCs will be allocated within institutions. The incursion of administrative and managerial judgments into academic areas could curtail intellectual freedoms and lead to discrimination, especially against junior members of staff. We recommend that HEFCE draw up a code of practice and monitor compliance.

22. We share, too, the concerns of other groups that a gold policy which requires UK scholars to publish in OA-compliant journals would prevent them from placing their work in leading overseas journals which do not offer gold OA. Conversely, gold OA discourages scholars outside the UK from publishing in UK journals which charge APCs. This will reduce the stature and influence of UK journals. Scholars from developing countries will be particularly affected by this.

23. We note that many countries around the world are pursuing open access policies, and that in most cases green- and gold-type routes are being favoured equally. This is true of almost all the countries which are most active in the field of English. The pursuit of a gold-only policy in this country would put UK scholars and journals at a disadvantage and damage moves towards internationalisation in publishing in our discipline.

24. Our fourth appendix expresses the particular anxiety of postgraduates and staff on temporary contracts who feel their prospects may be affected by a system which excludes them from access to APC funding or puts them at the mercy of institutions who may not want to invest in their future.

Creative Commons Licences

25. Clarification is needed about the licensing regime, in particular the relation between CC-BY-ND and copyright protection. This is particularly relevant to creative writing published in a research context, and to academic writing that cites copyrighted creative material.

Consultation

26. The speed with which Open Access has been pressed by BIS has contributed greatly to the anxiety about open access in the academic community. The government should take steps to ensure the fullest range of consultation during the transition period and provide clear census points to permit scholarly associations further opportunities to represent their subject areas.

27. We understand that HEFCE is considering making OA compliance a criterion for inclusion of outputs in future REF exercises. We ask for a detailed review involving representatives of arts and humanities disciplines before any decision is taken, as the large differences in publication patterns between disciplines, and the disparate nature of outputs within English alone, mean that any single model could have severe unintended consequences.

Professor David Duff
Chair, Council for College and University English

Professor Martin Halliwell
English Association, Chair of the Higher Education Committee

7 February 2013

Case study 1: Renaissance Studies and the Society for Renaissance Studies

The Journal

Renaissance Studies is an international, interdisciplinary journal, based in the UK published by Wiley-Blackwell. We publish scholarly essays, book reviews and exhibition reviews. The journal has a large, multi-disciplinary and international editorial board, and we draw upon this and many more expert reviewers from around the world. The review process is rigorous: essays are reviewed anonymously by 2–3 experts. In my experience all essays have to undergo rewriting and a second anonymous review. Success rate is roughly 38%. We publish the best scholarship regardless of where an author is from, or at what stage of career they may be, in the fields of Art History, European and World History, European Literatures (including English Literature), Medical Humanities, Philosophy.

More than half of the authors who submit to us are based outside the UK: in the US and Australia; across Europe, including in Ireland, Greece, Spain; and in African nations. Many of our published authors include independent scholars (post-doctoral researchers without fixed-term posts, emeritus professors etc.) and postgraduates (our future!).

In addition to concerns about how APCs might be managed within universities for academic staff in the humanities, we are also aware that the authors under most pressure—whom we have a long tradition of encouraging—are postgraduate researchers. Even those who are awarded RCUK (AHRC) funding are likely to struggle. There is no provision to fund postgraduate publication under the AHRC’s new round of the Block Grant Partnership (BGP2). For this reason we do not support the Gold option; this would discourage publication by all of these scholars.

Of the eight authors published by Renaissance Studies in 2005–2012 who acknowledged AHRC funding, five were AHRC-funded PhD students. Of the 16 UK academics who published in the journal in 2012, only two acknowledged that their research was AHRC funded. None declared that their research was Wellcome Trust-funded

Renaissance Studies already offers authors a pay to publish (gold OA) option with OnlineOpen. To maintain our international standing, though, we need to protect the quality of publications. The hybrid model will ensure that we continue to publish outstanding scholarship regardless of the ability to pay: Gold for those who can pay; Green for those who cannot. This latter group is likely to include outstanding UK scholars not in receipt of RCUK funding; postgraduates (including those in receipt of AHRC awards); independent scholars; international scholars.

There is a further issue: under the green route we support an extended embargo period of 36 months. We think this is the shortest possible period that would protect the viability of The Society for Renaissance Studies, which supports early career researchers and the discipline out of the revenue created by the journal (see below). (We will still want to discuss with Wiley-Blackwell the cost of: (a) APCs (Gold) and of (b) University subscription (Green).)

The Learned Society

The Society for Renaissance Studies currently receives approximately £30k a year in revenue from the journal (Wiley-Blackwell receives an equal sum; proceeds are split 50:50). This money supports the following causes: prizes (annual school essay prize; undergraduate essay prize; book prize; journal essay prize); postdoctoral fellowships; conference funding (small and large grants, with priority given to postgraduate bursaries); bursaries for curators. For full details of the work the Society does supporting the discipline and UK-based students, early career, postgraduate and independent scholars see: http://www.rensoc.org.uk/

Professor Jennifer Richards
Editor, Renaissance Studies, 3 February 2013

Case study 2: Journal of Victorian Culture

The Journal of Victorian Culture is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary journal. The Editorial Board has pursued an active policy of using digital technology and social media to speed up editorial processes, widen dissemination, and reach beyond the academy.

JVC was set up in 1996 with Leeds Trinity All Saints University College as trustee. In 2000 Leeds Trinity and JVC helped to form the British Association of Victorian Studies (BAVS). Though JVC and BAVS are autonomous they work closely and support each others’ activities. BAVS demonstrates that learned societies can function without a house journal and its revenue stream. It recruits widely; its finances are healthy; it supports a number of postgraduate and post-doctoral bursaries, regional societies and events; its annual conference is always oversubscribed.

In 2010 JVC moved from EUP to Routledge, T&F and from two to three issues a year. In 2011 we went to quarterly publication. 45% of contributors are from outside the UK; our acceptance rate is 25%.

We are not permitted to disclose sales figures but income has increased moderately, 2010–12. Two-thirds of revenue comes from outside the UK, almost all from library subscriptions. These have moved rapidly from print and online packages (70% in 2010) to online only (49% in 2012). T&F operates an 18 month embargo and does not anticipate subscriptions will be affected by Green OA.

JVC’s expansion has been aided by T&F’s international platform and efficient back-up services eg, online manuscript submission. However, it has been driven by the Editorial Board’s determination to accelerate the reviewing process (now 2–3 months) and to raise the journal’s visibility, and by unpaid academic labour.

In September 2010 we launched the interactive Journal of Victorian Culture Online (JVC Online) http://myblogs.informa.com/jvc/, with technical support from Routledge. We wanted to maintain JVC’s brand identity in the online world and encourage readers to browse. We also aimed to offer Victorianists more immediate and engaging ways of interacting with each other and the wider public than was afforded by the traditional scholarly journal. We believe that this kind of online editing and curating will help to sustain in the digital environment the quality imprint currently associated with the print journal.

JVC Online has played a significant part in internationalising and growing the journal. Full-text article downloads were up 93% in 2012 over 2011. Over 30,000 people visited JVC Online in 2012 and we have over 1000 followers on twitter. JVC Online is now an important site for postgraduates and ECRs to profile their work, blog, engage with non-academic audiences (exhibitions, films, TV, etc). It provides a timely forum for debating Open Access, social media, public engagement and so on.

With Routledge’s permission, we have made some JVC articles open access and advertised these via social media. These have been our most downloaded items, including the one article made open via an APC, paid by Wellcome. In 2012 only two of our authors acknowledged grant funding. The green route, therefore, is more likely to deliver cost effective OA in Humanities journals like JVC, and has the added benefit of making articles accessible on equal terms. As the transition process will now be longer than initially intended (Rylance, 29 Jan 2013) it will be worth piloting short embargo periods to see if there really is the negative impact on subscriptions that some fear.

Dr Helen Rogers
Editor, Journal of Victorian Culture

4 February 2013

Case Study 3: The English Association and the journal English

The English Association (EA) is a learned society, a subject association and a professional body. Advocacy for English at every level from primary to post-doctoral is central to its role.

Its worldwide Fellowship is a highly esteemed international network of distinguished writers and practitioners, academics, scholars and teachers.

Through its publications, conferences and subject networks, the EA seeks to represent and support the whole community of English language and literature practitioners, teachers and scholars.

The EA’s Royal Charter places on the trustees responsibilities for encouraging teachers of English to reach the highest professional standards. The EA’s new professional designation, Chartered Teacher of English, has recently been approved by the Privy Council.

Through the Common English Forum, the Association brings together all the subject and professional associations to debate current issues and to brief representatives of the DfE, BIS and the regulatory authorities.

The EA acts as an important conduit for communication between English departments in schools and universities.

The EA is not a large or wealthy organization: it has a permanent staff of two and an office located at Leicester University. The great majority of its activity is funded by annual income from subscriptions to its academic publications, most notably The Year’s Work in English Studies, The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory and its journal English. These three titles are published for the EA by Oxford UP.

The Open Access arrangements, centred on the “gold” and “green2 options, will present a critical challenge to the EA’s viability. Although the two Year’s Work titles focus on reviews rather then original scholarship and are therefore not subject to the same criteria of access and embargo, subscriptions to these titles by libraries world-wide will certainly diminish: indeed, O.U.P. is currently investigating the already-changing pattern of subscription to, and income from, these flagship EA publications.

Of particular concern to the Trustees is the impact of OA on English. There are two specific issues:

(i)English is a key part of the subscription package available to all members of the Association. If open access means that individuals and institutions no longer need to subscribe to it, this will have a severe effect on the appeal of EA membership.

(ii)One of the strengths of English, and a key part of its editorial policy, has always been to provide opportunities for publication by early career academics on the one hand, and by emeritus, independent and international scholars and writers on the other. (English is, of course, a fully peer-reviewed journal, with a strong reputation for the academic quality of its published work.) Of the fifteen contributors to the Winter 2012 issue (vol. 61, no. 235), nine are doctoral or postdoctoral researchers, one is a distinguished emeritus professor and three are full-time writers. It is hard to see how, under the incoming regulations, such a profile of contributors (which the EA considers to be important for the future health of the subject, and part of its mission under its Royal Charter) could be sustained. Limiting the scope for publication by early career researchers and emeritus scholars such as those whose work currently appears in English is clearly at odds with the research-driven imperatives of the academy.

The English Association’s trustees are alert to the fact that challenges such of the kind now created by OA offer opportunities as well as threats. Nevertheless the transition period from one system of funding to another will severely constrain learned societies, such as the English Association, who are determined to continue their contribution to the cultural, academic and educational life of the UK.

Adrian Barlow
Chairman of Trustees, The English Association

5 February 2013

Appendix 4: Open letter from postgraduates and early career researchers

As postgraduates, early career researchers and staff working in the Arts and Humanities across a number of different institutions, we write to express our concern over the Government’s current position on Open Access. While we are very much in support of the principle of Open Access to research, we believe that the recommendations of the Finch Report to pursue a ‘Gold’ model of OA has serious implications for the academic community as a whole, but particularly for postgraduates, early career researchers (ECRs), independent scholars and retired staff.

It is our understanding that the AHRC, like other RCUK bodies, will not be setting aside any money under BGP2 to cover postgraduate students’ Article Processing Charges (APCs). There are also a high number of students who are not AHRC funded, including international students who pay fees significantly higher than UK students. It is not clear from what resource (if any) universities would draw funding to pay the APCs that would enable their postgraduate students, under the proposals outlined in the Finch Report, to publish their research in Gold-compliant journals.

It is also unclear how non-affiliated ECRs, independent researchers and retired staff would fund the APCs proposed by the Finch Report if the Gold route only were adopted, meaning that there is the danger that these individuals will effectively be prevented from publishing their research in OA journals. This is of particular concern to new postdoctoral researchers seeking academic employment, for whom—given the increasingly competitive nature of the academic job market, and the weight afforded to the REF in the decisions of appointment committees—a good publication record is of utmost importance.

Linked to this, there are serious questions regarding the 2020 REF, and whether or not only OA research will be considered for this. It is crucial that the Government and HEFCE clarify their position on this matter as soon as possible, as the implications of their decisions on OA policy concerning the Gold and Green models, and the severity of the impact these may have on the academic careers of PGs and ECRs, is dependent upon this.

According to p. 31 of the Draft AHRC Strategy 2013–2018 Document, the AHRC is planning a new initiative entitled ‘AHRC New Generations: A Forum for Early Career Researchers (including post graduates).’ We suggest that a leading item on the future agenda of this body should be ‘finding means for PGs and ECRs to publish while conforming to the OA policy’.

Since universities will have limited funds available to cover APCs, opportunities to publish will be restricted, and priority may be given to senior academic staff and to ‘safe’ research by established names rather than riskier, more innovative work by unknown junior academics or those (typically recent doctoral graduates) on short-term contracts. In addition to this, due to the decision of RCUK to allocate block grant APC funding to institutions on a sliding scale, a two-tier university system will be fostered, in which the chances of research being published will come to depend largely on the institution to which they are affiliated. Moreover, there is a particularly worrying recommendation on the part of the Finch Group report: “Most universities will establish funds for the payment of APCs, along with policies and procedures which will in some cases move towards open access as the default mode of publication. That will give universities a greater role in helping researchers to make judgements, in line with academic freedom, about how they publish their work” (p. 11). This recommendation risks posing a significant threat to academic freedom if the choice of what and where to publish is taken away from researchers and is guided by university managers, who may have financial considerations as their top priority, rather than the quality of the research being published.

Finally, there are issues associated with the green model as well as the gold model, and it is evident that more time and wider consultation is needed to consider the implications of both. The rush to accept and implement the Finch Report without giving universities and other interested groups—including postgraduates and early career researchers, the research generation of the future—time to respond adequately is very worrying. We believe the Government should not be implementing this policy without proper consultation with the universities, with academics and with the postgraduate and ECR communities, and we strongly encourage the Government to extend significantly the current consultation period.

Dr Emma Short (early career researcher, Newcastle University) and 54 others from 5 universities

6 February 2013

Prepared 9th September 2013