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These pages contain a summary of the report from the review of the Office of Scholarly Communication [OSC] held on 13-14 July 2017 as a result of a decision by the General Board in March 2017.

Background

The OSC began as a joint initiative of the University Library [UL] and the Research Office, providing a service to researchers by supporting their needs in the open conduct and dissemination of research, including fulfilling sponsor requirements for Open Access Publishing and, in some cases, Open Data. In 2016, the OSC processed over 5,000 manuscript submissions and responded to over 15,000 enquiries. It oversees around £3m expenditure provided by funders in Article Processing Charges to support Gold open access and its repository, Apollo, currently hosts one of the largest open access archives in the UK, with over 14,500 papers and almost 1,000 datasets available, attracting around 93,000 downloads per month on average.

The Panel noted that development of the OSC had come about rapidly since 2015, initially in response to compliance needs and building on the vision of the former University Librarian. Almost by necessity, the OSC had developed its activities as funding had become available, from which the current structure had evolved. There was now an appropriate opportunity to achieve improved definition of the University’s expectations of the OSC service, to rebalance strategic priorities and, in the light of this, to review the University’s arrangements for supporting Open Research.

The review considered the remit of the Office of Scholarly Communication and the resources available to support its work, in order to ensure that the Office can best position the University to meet the changing requirements for the creation, curation and dissemination of research and scholarly outputs.

The Review was consultative, seeking input via an open call published in the Reporter; from Schools, Faculties and Departments by direct solicitation; and from a set of peer institutions identified by the OSC. The University Librarian, Library Syndicate, Research Office, REF Office and Cambridge University Press were formally consulted. The Review Panel considered 36 documents and conducted a wide consultation with service users, policymakers and University stakeholders. The full report was approved by the General Board in September 2017.

The Review Panel’s recommendations

R1. The General Board should commission a Working Party to clarify the University’s needs and expectations in relation to Open Research. It should be constituted by key stakeholders and those who are active and informed on Open Research issues. Its work should include agreement on the University’s public stance on Open Research. The Working Party should also consider and propose solutions for infrastructure needs relating to Open Research, including increased automation of Open Research processes.

R2. Based on a clear statement of the University’s needs and expectations, the OSC should receive a formal definition of its remit and service requirements.

R3. The OSC should be formally integrated into the University Library with clear reporting lines to senior library management.

R4. Having first clarified the University’s position on Open Research through the proposed Working Party, the Open Access Project Board should be discontinued and an alternative group established. Policy decisions relating to Open Research should be considered directly by the Research Policy Committee.

R5. The University Librarian should have scope to consider the optimum arrangement of library services necessary to meet University-defined expectations for support of Open Research. This should include consideration of the shape of library-based support for Open Data, and generation of the necessary infrastructure, if not already existing, within the context of overall digital library services.

R6. The University should consider a more strategic approach to Open Access compliance – to be risk-managed by the REF Office and Units of Assessment within existing funder regulations.

R7. The OSC should prioritise, above all else, the stabilising and expediency of processes supporting core Open Access Publishing, including the introduction of increased automation to reduce average submission processing times, eliminate the backlog and optimise cost effectiveness.

R8. As an urgent priority, the University Library should seek underwriting sufficient to enable permanent contracts for certain members of OSC staff currently on fixed-term contracts, to maintain core services under the overall direction of the University Librarian.

R9. The OSC should take a selective approach to its external engagement and training activities, set against the need to maintain core services and supporting a balanced University public profile.

R10. The OSC, under the guidance of the proposed Working Party, should clearly identify costed infrastructure needs for a 5-10 year programme of development. These should be incorporated into core UL and UIS priorities and progressed rapidly.

Commendations

The Panel wishes to commend the Head of the Office of Scholarly Communication, and her team, for a highly creative and professional approach to setting up the service, and for achieving rapid growth in awareness, engagement and compliance in open access throughout the University. The Panel was pleased to note that the University had achieved Open Access deposit compliance of around 50%, which was comparable with levels achieved across the sector, in particular those of peer research-intensive HEIs. A number of innovative activities were noted, e.g. the Data Champions scheme, and the Panel was pleased to receive very positive feedback from service users who had responded to the consultation, and from external stakeholders.

The OSC has adopted a pro-active stance towards external engagement and advocacy for scholarly communication, being recognised as an internationally renowned and pioneering leader in the field of scholarly communication. These activities have clearly been well-respected by the UK scholarly communication sector, and its proponents in HEFCE and BEIS, and can be expected to contribute towards a positive assessment of the University environment in the upcoming REF exercise.

The Panel concluded that the OSC’s activities compared very well with national and international peers, in some cases setting rather than meeting benchmarks.

Terms of reference for Review of the Office of Scholarly Communication (summary)

Background

The Office of Scholarly Communication was established in 2015 as part of the University’s response to the need for policy, services and infrastructure to help meet the significant challenges of a fast evolving scholarly communications landscape, linked to developments in the open research agenda and the wider international research environment. Scholarly Communication is “the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use. The system includes both formal means of communication, such as publication in peer-reviewed journals, and informal channels, such as electronic listservs”1.

Objective

To review the scope, remit, staffing and operations of the Office of Scholarly Communication in order to ensure that the Office can best position the University to meet changing requirements for the creation and dissemination of research and scholarly outputs.

Format of review

The Panel will meet to consider written submissions prepared to support the Review, including input from a University-wide consultation process, and the Panel will meet with Office staff and other stakeholders in its work. The Panel will be invited to identify recommended actions that could be implemented immediately in order to enhance the operational effectiveness of the Office and any further recommendations that will require more time to implement whether these be directly within the Office itself or related to other areas within the University.

Membership

The Panel for the review will comprise up to eight members, with a Chair drawn from the membership of the Research Policy Committee. The membership will include one of the six Heads of School and appropriate representation from outside Cambridge. The membership will be finalised by the Chair and Secretary of the General Board under the Board’s delegated authority.

 

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