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Insights into European research funder Open policies and practices
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The report summarises the results of a survey of the main European research funders on Open Access and Research Data policies. The results come from 62 funding bodies in 29 European countries, a majority of which are national organisations.

Insights into European research funder Open policies and practices

Report commissioned by: SPARC Europe

Executive summary

This report summarises the results of a survey of European research funders on Open Access (OA) and Research Data (RD) policies. The survey was completed by 62 research funders from 29 European countries. [1]Only surveys that were submitted (i.e. where respondents clicked the ‘submit’ button) are considered completed. Note that not all respondents who submitted the survey response completed all the questions (e.g. some responses were completed by 61 respondents or less, whilst other have a much lower number because they indicate a subset of responses e.g. 37 funders with an Open Access policy). The text indicates the total number of responses to each question. Respondents comprised national funding agencies (27) and pan-European funders (2), national and regional academies (15), foundations and philanthropic organisations (14) and research charities (4). This document summarises findings at a pan-European level: it does not attempt to draw a connection between responses and the national context, which could be part of a separate analysis.

Open Access policies

Almost two thirds of respondents (37) have an OA policy, most of which (30) have mandatory requirements. All OA policies cover scholarly articles, and around two thirds of them also cover books and monographs (24) and conference proceedings (22). Although 24 organisations do not yet have an Open Access policy, half (12) are currently in the early stages of developing a policy. Among the remaining funders, the most common reason for not having a policy is lack of resources to develop and/or implement and monitor it.

Research Data policies

Over two thirds of European funders (42 out of 61 respondents) do not have a Research Data (RD) policy. Seven funders have provisions on Research Data that are part of a broader Open Access or Open Science policy, while only 12 respondents have a dedicated Research Data policy which is independent of the policy on research publications. Of the 19 RD policies in place, over two thirds (13) include mandatory requirements – the most common of which are depositing the data in a repository (14) and producing a Data Management Plan (12). However, 13 more funders are in the process of developing a RD policy.

Support for OA publication costs

Most funders (52 out of 62) provide some support for the payment of publication costs. Of these, 28 pay for Article Publication Charges (APCs) and other publication costs, such as page and colour charges, while 19 organisations cover APCs only and five cover some publication charges but no APCs. Most funders are unaware of the proportion of research outputs benefitting from APC support, whilst most of the others (18 out of 25) support APCs for less than 50% of their outputs. The most common mechanism for paying publication costs is as an eligible cost of research grants or contract funding, and most funders (43) do not apply a cap on APC expenditure (but 9 of these are considering applying one). Two thirds of funders are not doing any work on APC offsetting deals or OA transformative deals.

Funding for OA initiatives

European funders show variable involvement in supporting initiatives such as APC-free OA platforms and journals, standards and principles, repositories and services. Over half of respondents do not formally support any Open Access initiative. Repositories (10 funders) and OA journals (9) are the initiatives receiving most financial support, whilst standards and principles are generally supported with in kind contributions (20). 16 funders offer their own publishing platform and/or journal; these range from publishing OA journals to hosting open research platforms to CRIS-type systems that can support the evaluation of research process.

Funding for RD initiatives

The landscape is somewhat similar with regards to RD initiatives, with 36 funders not supporting any initiative and only a few providing financial support to RD infrastructure. RD storage services and repositories are the initiatives that most commonly receive financial support (6 funders).

Grant evaluation criteria

Funders use a wide array of grant evaluation criteria in addition to research excellence. The most commonly used are: the quality of the research uptake and dissemination strategy (32), criteria related to the applicants track-record (29), quality of the plan for achieving social impact (28) and evidence of past societal impact (26). Open access is not a big factor in grant evaluation: 51 funders make no distinction between OA and non-OA publications. However, 27 funders have signed up to or expressed support for the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).

Monitoring and compliance

Most funders support OA policy implementation by embedding requirements in their grant funding agreements (31). OA policy compliance is monitored by 23 funders while only 9 monitor their RD policy. The most commonly used processes to monitor compliance are grant-level and organisation-level reporting, monitoring submissions in institutional repositories and high-level studies of compliance. Among those that do not monitor their Open Access or Research Data policy, a lack of monitoring infrastructure or tools is cited as the main cause, followed by a lack of resources. In most cases, non-compliance with the policy has no practical consequences for beneficiaries.

Review of Open Science Policies

Of the 37 funders that have an Open Access policy, 15 released or reviewed it within the last 3 years and an additional 11 within the last 12 months. Moreover, 35 funders expect to review their policy within the next 3 years and 19 of these expect to do so within the next 12 months. The next review will generally focus on monitoring and compliance (24), embargo periods (18), eligible journals (16), APC capping (15) and support mechanisms for funding publication costs (12). With regards to Research Data, 16 policies were reviewed over the past 3 years, and five of those were reviewed in the past 12 months. 18 out of 19 policies will be reviewed in the next 3 years, and half of those in the next year.

Plan S

Out of 61 respondents, 55 are aware of Plan S. Of these 31 are supportive of the plan to varying degrees, whilst about a third (19) have not yet formulated a position on Plan S and only two are not supportive.11 funders have already signed up to Plan S and a further three are in the process of aligning their policy with it.

 

References   [ + ]

1. Only surveys that were submitted (i.e. where respondents clicked the ‘submit’ button) are considered completed. Note that not all respondents who submitted the survey response completed all the questions (e.g. some responses were completed by 61 respondents or less, whilst other have a much lower number because they indicate a subset of responses e.g. 37 funders with an Open Access policy). The text indicates the total number of responses to each question.