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Subject analysis of routes to compliance for UKRI funded authors

As part of our work to support the implementation of the new UKRI Open Access policy, we have rapidly scaled up our negotiations and are now working with over 300 publishers (and have confirmed compliance of 100 more) across a broad range of subject areas using a range of open access publishing routes. The aim is to make it easy for authors to increase the reach and impact of their research, and to comply with UKRI, and other research funders’, open access (OA) policies.

We carry out detailed analysis of previous publishing patterns of UKRI funded authors and assign each journal a route to compliance category (Table 1). For journals that are non-compliant or ineligible for UKRI funds we then evaluate the gaps between the publisher’s existing publication routes and the UKRI OA policy requirements, and we work with these publishers to secure UKRI compliant agreements. All our negotiations with publishers are sector-led and designed to meet both sector and funder requirements.

Table 1. Definitions of routes to compliance / non-compliance for UKRI-funded authors.

As a result of the arrangements put in place by Jisc and publishers, 91% of journals that UKRI funded authors publish in are policy compliant and eligible for OA funding from UKRI. In practice, this results in cutting edge research being made freely available for access and reuse by researchers, students, industry, and the public, contributing to global efforts to combat challenges such as climate change and the Covid 19 pandemic.

In addition to the widely acknowledged impact of OA on scientific endeavours, we also wanted to gauge whether our work was helping to enrich the UK’s cultural research output and were keen to understand whether OA opportunities are evenly distributed across the disciplines.

This post provides a breakdown of UKRI funded authors’ publication venues, their compliance, discipline, and subject areas.

Analysing initial compliance

When research articles became in-scope of the new UKRI OA policy, 77% of journals[1] were already compliant and eligible, and a further 1% were compliant via a green route. We analysed the disciplinary spread of OA opportunities using the SCOPUS All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) subject classification.

In April 2022 compliance rates were similar across five broad subject areas, with some variation (Fig.1). Physical Sciences journals had the lowest proportion of journals classified as at 75%. Life Sciences, followed by Social Sciences and Humanities, had the highest proportions of compliant and eligible or green compliant journals, with 86% and 82% respectively.

Figure 1. Percentage of journals by compliance status on 8 April 2022, within each of five broad subject areas. Data Source: Article-level data from Dimensions*; Crossref API; KB+; Sherpa Romeo; Journal Check Tool API.

What have we achieved so far?

Overall, the 91% compliant and eligible or green compliant journals that UKRI authors publish in[2] represents an increase of 13% since April 2022 but the increases vary across subject area:

  • Health Sciences +12%,
  • Life Sciences +8%,
  • Multi-disciplinary +10%,
  • Physical Sciences +15%, and
  • Social Sciences and Humanities +12%.

This has effectively reduced the gap in compliance between the broad subjects. Whereas the difference between the subjects with the highest and lowest proportions of compliant and eligible or green compliant journals was 11% in April 2022, it is now only 7%.

Figure 2. Percentage of journals by compliance status on 28 November 2022, within each of five broad subject areas. Data Source: Article-level data from Dimensions*; Crossref API; KB+; Sherpa Romeo; Journal Check Tool API; internal Licensing records on negotiation progress.

At a more granular level, for 115 out of 307 subjects, 100% of journals are compliant and eligible or green compliant with the UKRI OA policy (Fig. 3).

Certain subjects have a lower proportion of journals that are compliant and eligible/green compliant. However, many of those are smaller discipline areas (i.e. with fewer than 10 journals[3]), meaning that the proportion of compliant and eligible or green compliant journals is quickly reduced to under 75%, when just one (1) or two (2) journals are not compliant and eligible.

Subjects with lower rates of compliance are a focus of negotiation efforts, including general medicine, general earth and planetary sciences, and general physics and astronomy (Table 2).

Table 2. Specific subjects, with at least ten (10) journals with at least one UKRI-funded article between 2017 and 2021, of which less than 80% are compliant and eligible as of 28 November 2022. Data Source: Dimensions*; Crossref API; KB+; Sherpa Romeo; Journal Checker Tool API; internal Licensing records on negotiation progress.

Overall, the trajectory since April 2022 has been towards increasing the number of subjects with a higher proportion of compliant and eligible, or green compliant journals. This can be seen by comparing the current distribution (dark blue) with the distribution in April 2022 (light orange overlay) in Fig. 3.

Figure 3. Histogram of the frequency (number) of specific subject areas (n = 307, including ‘unknown’) by the proportion of the subject’s journals that are currently compliant and eligible (dark blue), compared to the proportion of the subject’s journals that were compliant and eligible in April 2022 (light orange overlay). Data Source: Dimensions*; Cross-ref API; KB+; Sherpa Romeo; Journal Checker Tool API; internal Licensing records on negotiation progress.

Next steps

We are aiming for at least 95% of journals to be compliant and eligible or green compliant by April 2023, in order to maximise open access publishing options for UKRI funded authors and to ensure that more publicly funded research can be reused and built upon to improve lives and society.

For more information on our work in supporting open access, visit our website where you can also check the status of negotiations with publishers and societies. Please contact us if you have any questions or comments.

* Data sourced from Dimensions in March 2022, an inter-linked research information system provided by Digital Science (https://www.dimensions.ai). Due to licensing and copyright restrictions, these images should not be used or reproduced for other purposes without permission.

[1] Journals that published UKRI-funded articles between 2017 and 2021.

[2] Journals that published UKRI-funded articles between 2017 and 2021.

[3] Journals that  published UKRI-funded articles between 2017 and 2021.

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