The BSA recently responded to an open consultation on the open access publishing requirements to be applied to REF 2029.

You can see the BSA’s response to the consultation on our website, along with all our consultation responses on a variety of subjects.

A committee of Trustees and the BSA President came together to prepare our submission. To hear the voice of the community, we invited responses to a short survey.  We had 445 contributions expressing views and experiences on open access.  This valuable feedback played a critical role in steering our response and providing important evidence from the community.

In relation to the consultation, the BSA’s key concern was inclusivity. We were focussed on aspects of the proposed OA requirements that would have a negative or exclusionary impact on what, and who, was likely to be submitted for REF – whether that impact was from lack of access to funds for open access publishing, or indirect disincentivisation of output types or publishing modes. The REF policies have an effect not only on the publications submitted to the 2029 exercise but also have an effect on academic publishing overall. REF can play a role in supporting a sustainable transition to open access or in entrenching inequalities and a two-tier publishing system.

Our most significant concerns were around the inclusion of any open access requirements for books in the REF 2029.  With your feedback from the survey, we made a strong recommendation against including any OA requirements for books in this REF.  Books as an output type are vital to the sociological community, but it was clear that the infrastructure and funding for making books open access is not adequately available.  We did also note that while the ability to publish journal articles open access is more widely available, it is dependent on ‘transitional’ agreements between Jisc and many publishers, which agreements are not universally accessible, nor guaranteed long-term.  If these agreements were to end, a lot of sociological work that can now be published open access would not have the means to fund open access publication for the version of record.

As these policies have both immediate and further reaching implications for publishing sociological research, it was important to add our collective voice to consultation.

The British Academy and the Academy of Social Sciences also submitted responses.  The British Academy has set up a webpage recording all of their open access activity, an area in which they have been very active in seeking sustainable open access.