University of Manchester’s RCUK Open Access 2016-17 report

The beginning of April marked the end of the fourth year of RCUK’s Open Access (OA) policy.  We submitted our finance and compliance report in May and have made our 2016-17 APC data available via the University’s institutional repository, Pure.

The headlines for us from this period are:

  • We have estimated 75% compliance for 2016-17 (54% Gold OA and 21% Green OA).
  • This is a significant increase in Green OA. In part this is due to the launch of HEFCE’s OA policy but it is also a consequence of the constraints of the block grant, ie, we have been unable to meet demand for Gold OA during the reporting period.
  • Despite the increase in Green OA, expenditure on Gold OA has not decreased. This is partly due to publishers that do not provide a compliant Green OA option but increased APC unit level costs are also a factor.
  • We have reported an 18% increase in the average APC cost in 2016/17 (£1869) against the 2015/16 average (£1578). To some extent this increase can be accounted for by foreign exchange rate differences.
  • Although we operate a ‘first come, first served’ model for allocating the block grant, it was necessary to impose restrictions for 3 months of this period. We limited expenditure to Pure Gold OA journals, non-OA publication fees and hybrid journals that do not provide a compliant Green OA option.
  • The level of Gold OA achieved has only been possible due to continued investment from the University (£0.2m) and credits/discounts received from publishers relating to subscription packages and offsetting deals (£0.1m).
  • We arranged Gold OA with 60 different publishers. Of these, we managed offsetting schemes and memberships with 11 and arranged Gold OA for only one paper with 20.
  • We continued to assess publisher deals to obtain best value from the block grant but are committed to engaging only with publishers that offer a reasonable discount and overall fair OA offer.
  • As in previous years, most APCs were paid to Elsevier (139), almost double the number paid to the next publisher, Wiley (75).
  • As in previous years, our highest cost APC (£4679) was paid to Elsevier.  The lowest cost APC (£196) was paid to the Electrochemical Society.
  • We reported expenditure of £72,297 on ‘other costs’.  This amount includes colour and page charges as well as publication fees associated with Green OA papers.
  • Despite reminders to authors that papers must be published as CC-BY, 8 papers were published under non-compliant licences and we were unable to identify licences for a further 16 papers.  We contact publishers to correct licences when we are aware of a non-compliant licence.
  • We continued to see engagement with Gold OA from Humanities researchers who produce outputs other than journal articles. We have supported Gold OA for one monograph and one book chapter during the reporting period, at a cost of £11,340 from the block grant.  A further monograph has been paid for from an institutional OA fund.
  • Despite a concerted effort on our part we continued to see inconsistency in the inclusion of grant acknowledgements on papers.  We act in good faith when approving payment from the block grant but believe a joined up approach from RCUK, institutions and publishers is needed to ensure all researchers are aware and fulfil this requirement consistently.

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