This blog post was written by James Lush, the Biochemical Society’s Policy Manager

Research Councils UK’s (RCUK) new open access policy, which comes in to effect in about three weeks’ time on 1 April, has been a source of some confusion. So it is welcome to see that today they published a guidance document and will take requests for further clarity on this over the next fortnight.

The document is available here (PDF).

The notes emphasise that the policy will be reviewed next year – including any significant problems arising, such as on the sustainability of Learned Societies – and that RCUK consider the next five years being a transitional period, with 100% compliance not expected in the short term. It also highlights that authors ought still to retain a great degree of freedom in their choice of where to publish. However, it emphasises throughout that RCUK’s preference is for articles to be published with immediate, gold open access, with as few restrictions on re-use as possible.

Some of the key points to note are:

  • This iteration of the policy does not mandate open access to research data. However, all papers must communicate how any applicable data and other underlying research information can be accessed.
  • The Research Councils plan to increase the funding available for open access over the five-year transitional period.
  • They expect a market for Article Processing Charges (APCs) to develop, with a nudge towards researchers and institutions to note that the REF does not use journal impact factors as an assessment tool.
  • Authors may publish by the green open access route if they wish, as long as the delay (embargo) between publication and open access does not exceed six months, or 12 months for arts, humanities and social sciences. However, during the transition period there is a caveat through which this may be extended:
    • Where researchers do not have access to APC funding for their preferred gold open access journal during the transition, they are encouraged to look at cheaper options in the first instance, followed by a green option with a compliant embargo policy. If there are no feasible options, the paper may be published in a 12 month embargo journal, or 24 months for arts, humanities and social sciences. This PowerPoint slide illustrates this.
    • The exception is biomedicine, as the MRC already mandates embargos of no longer than six months.
  • Where the gold route is used with Research Council funding, the paper must be freely available under a CC BY licence to allow maximum, attributed reuse. Where the green route is used, CC BY is preferred, but CC BY NC is allowable, as are publisher-specific policies that allow text and data mining and support RCUK’s key aims.
  • RCUK grant and fellowship awards which commence after the start date for the revised policy – 1 April 2013 – will not include funding for APCs.

First year of policy: 45% compliance targeted
Second year: 50%
Fifth year: 100%, with 75% delivered through immediate, gold open access and CC BY licencing.

To provide further input, you are invited to email Alexandra Saxon by Wednesday 20 March. Alternatively, you can contribute to the Society of Biology sectoral response by Wednesday 13 March, by emailing me.

This comes shortly after HEFCE published a letter (PDF) which calls for early input to help shape a formal consultation on the role of open access in post-2014 iterations of the Research Excellence Framework. HEFCE will develop the four UK funding bodies’ joint policy and state that they intend to make OA mandatory for submitted outputs. However, they do not intend to state a preference for gold over green open access. One of the questions on which they invite advice is whether it would be feasible to make open access to data a formal requirement too, although they state that while they expect to see progress in this area from REF 2014, they do not expect to make it a formal requirement yet. The deadline for responses to the letter is Monday 25 March. Once again, you can contribute to the Society of Biology sectoral response by Monday 18 March, by emailing me.

Finally, if you’ve made it this far, you may be interested to subscribe to the Society of Biology’s Research Communication Newsletter. The first edition can be found here and to subscribe you can email policy@societyofbiology.org

Opening up policy


This blog post was written by James Lush, the Biochemical Society’s Policy Manager

I’ve written a post at the Society of Biology’s (more public-focussed) blog on ‘Opening up policy’, in which I touch on participation, the representativeness of public samples, opening up democratically, social considerations and engaging with experts.

You can read it here.

This blog post was written by James Lush, the Biochemical Society’s Policy Manager

The Biochemical Society, in partnership with the Society of Biology, is appointing a new full-time Science Policy Officer. It’s a one year, full time position, with the possibility of extension. You can find full details here.

Closing date: 09:00, 4 March

This does, sadly, indicate that I am leaving Charles Darwin House at the start of April. I will be taking up a newly created position in the Equality Challenge Unit team (the coordinators of the Athena SWAN Charter). Until then, please do continue to contact me on science policy issues – I’ll update this page with the details of my successor when they start!

Update: 4 April – Catherine Ball has been appointed and is working across the two societies. You can contact her at catherineball@societyofbiology.org  or catherine.ball@biochemistry.org

This blog post was written by James Lush, the Biochemical Society’s Policy Officer

If you are one of our members and aged 16-35, the Biochemical Society is offering you the chance to question MPs in Parliament at Voice of the Future 2013 (VOF2013).

The event was held for the very first time last year and was such a success that we’re doing it all again! VOF2013 will be held on Wednesday 20 March and is being organised by the Society of Biology and hosted by the House of Commons Select Committee on Science & Technology. The event presents young and early career representatives of a number of learned and professional societies the chance to sit in the seats usually reserved for members of the Select Committee and question the MPs as in a real evidence session.

So if you’re concerned about scientific careers, muddled about the misuse of science in and for policy, fearful about funding or stressed about short-termism, why not take your question to the top?

For your chance to attend, you just need to send us a question for the MPs by 12:00 on Monday, 25 February. Full details and instructions are available here.

You can read an article about last year’s ground breaking event here (PDF).

This blog post was written by James Lush, the Biochemical Society’s Policy Officer

This is an abridged collation of some of the interesting reading I came across/finally got round to over the Christmas break.

Careers and science

Women in science

  • The organisers of the SpotOn London conference compile a useful selection of resources for female scientists looking to raise their profiles online (some also apply to men).
  • Curt Rice, Vice President for Research & Development at the University of Tromsø, writes a great article about how quotas raise quality, and how diversity is about more than social justice. He also includes a succinct account of the ‘paradox of meritocracy’.
  • The House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee take oral evidence for their Women in the Workplace inquiry. The transcript of the session with Dame Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell (Chair of the Royal Society of Edinburgh inquiry into Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Kate Sloyan (Institute of Physics 2012 Very Early Career Woman Physicist of the Year Award winner), and Helen Wollaston and Trudy Norris Grey (both of the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Campaign) is worth reading.

Science for the economy


  • Curt Rice (again), summarises a recently published paper on Open Evaluation, arguing that changes to how we evaluate are essential to the Open Access movement.
  • The latest issue of The Journal of the Foundation for Science and Technology (PDF) features articles on implementing the Finch Report from Professor Sir John Enderby, as well as an article from Julian Huppert MP about how he uses social media. There is also a piece by Professor Pete Downes (former Chair of the Biochemical Society Policy Committee) about how universities can catalyse innovation. Crucially, he highlights that we must produce graduates who understand this and are interested.

The policy process

And finally…

  • Nature has published a forward look at what they see the key stories of 2013 being, including the results of a clinical trial which uses human embryonic stem cells.

This blog post was written by James Lush, the Biochemical Society’s Policy Officer

The annual SET for BRITAIN poster competition is open for applications. SET for BRITAIN offers a brilliant opportunity for young researchers to present their work in a unique location – the Houses of Parliament. The event represents an important chance to showcase scientific research and bring it in to the corridors of power, as well as introducing some of the brightest young scientists to this exciting arena. There are also cash prizes.

Posters should be aimed at a scientific audience, but you should be prepared to explain your work to non-scientists, including MPs and other visitors.

The deadline – by which you must submit an abstract and reference letter (not the final poster) – is Christmas Eve, December 24 2012.

In related news, Voice of the Future 2013 will take place in March. Further details will be announced in the new year. You can read about last year’s event here.

Postdoc matters


This blog post was written by James Lush, the Biochemical Society’s Policy Officer

The Biochemical Society is holding a careers workshop for postdoctoral researchers on December 10. Further details are available here and spaces are still available.

The event will include a workshop on ‘Effective Career Management‘, plenaries from Professor Steve Watson (a Nature award-winning PI for Creative Mentoring, 25 of whose former lab members have established independent careers in academia) and Clare Bhunnoo (Strategy and Policy Manager for Bioscience Skills and Careers at BBSRC), as well as speed networking sessions with a number of individuals who have done postdocs before becoming PIs or diversifying their careers. These include representatives from Unilever, the NIMR, the Sanger Institute, Portland Press Ltd. and several more.

The event will be held at Charles Darwin House, London WC1N 2JU on Monday 10 December from 10:30 – 17:30, following by drinks and networking. The event is free for Biochemical Society members and costs £50 for non-members. (Hint: It is cheaper to join the Society as an Early Career Member than to pay the non-members price!)

That link again – www.biochemistry.org/PostdoctoralCareersWorkshop

In other postgrad news, the Higher Education Commission recently launched their report into Postgraduate Education. We contributed to the original consultation (PDF) back in April, and were also invited to discuss the issues at a subsequent roundtable discussion. You can read about this in my article on the Society of Biology’s blog. The report, which says that “Our system of postgraduate education remains world-class, but there are a number of areas where current policy and practice is out of step with our national vision for this sector and for our economy,” has been welcomed by RCUK and HEFCE.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37 other followers