RCUK open access funding update

The School has approved a new policy for the RCUK open access block grant, managed by the Library & Archives Service. In order to make best use of the remaining funds during the rest of the block grant period (which runs to the end of March 2020), we have made the decision to only fund articles published in fully open access journals from 1 April 2018.

We are also limiting the funding available per article to £2500 (which is enough to cover the vast majority of open access journals). If the cost exceeds £2500, the extra needs to be covered from other grants and sources of funding available to the author.

RCUK funded authors are welcome to continue publishing in hybrid journals (subscription journals with an open access option), but should not choose the gold open access option unless they have other funds available to them. This does not mean the work cannot be made open access. Instead, authors should deposit their accepted manuscript (i.e. the final draft manuscript, after peer review but before the publisher’s copyediting and typsetting) in LSHTM Research Online and (if MRC-funded) deposit in Europe PubMed Central as soon as possible after acceptance (i.e. green open access). MRC funded authors are reminded that their chosen journal’s embargo period should not exceed 6 months, while other RCUK funded authors (including ESRC and BBSRC) are permitted a 12 month embargo period.

SHERPA/FACT is a very useful resource for checking the compatibility of a journal with your funder’s open access policy.

RCUK funded authors who wish to publish in an open access journal should continue to apply for funding via the Library & Archives Service. It is recommended to do this at the point of submission to ensure funding is available for your article.


Why have we introduced this policy?

We have reviewed the costs of open access, and over the past 12 months, the average cost of an article in a fully open access journal is substantially less than a hybrid journal (c.£1700 compared to £2400). This has been discussed in more detail in a blog post written last year. The RCUK Block Grant is not an unlimited resource, so in order to fairly make use of the remaining funds it makes sense to limit the funds to those publishing in fully open access journals; those publishing in hybrid can still make their work open access for free via self-archiving in LSHTM Research Online and Europe PubMed Central.


What about other funders?

Please note that COAF-funded authors (i.e. authors funded by Arthritis Research UK, Bloodwise, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Parkinson’s UK or Wellcome Trust) are not impacted by this policy at the time being. COAF authors can continue to publish open access in hybrid and open access journals. Wellcome Trust is currently reviewing its open access policy, but no decisions are due to be made in the near future.

It is recommended to review our list of major funder policies and sources of open access funding, as well as our list of open access waiver and discount schemes. A useful resource is the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), which indexes open access journals including many with no open access fee.


The featured image of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is by Ewan Munro available under a CC BY-SA license via Flickr.