Past Event details

The Open Access Agenda: Implications for Higher Education Policy and Practice

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Open Access (the free availability of higher education’s research outputs) is part of a broader worldwide ‘open movement’ which seeks to open up knowledge to anyone, anywhere, who wants access to it. The Open Access agenda is not just ideological but is supported by policy; for example the four UK Funding Bodies have mandated that all research publications must be in an open-access form to be eligible for the next Research Excellent Framework (REF) exercise. Movements for  greater openness have the potential to impact significantly on many aspects of academic life, including: academic careers and markers of prestige; scholarly publishing; how we share and disseminate research outputs; and who and how people access and re-use the knowledge that we produce.

This seminar is an opportunity to discuss a number of important issues associated with open access. Those discussions will be stimulated by two papers from academics and a policymaker working in this field:

Claire Fraser: REF Open Access Policy

As noted above, open access has been encouraged by governments and research funders in recent years. The Four UK Funding Bodies have developed a policy which states that to be eligible for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF2021) journal outputs and conference proceedings must be made available open access. The policy landscape and the UK scholarly communication process (including funding and the publication options available to authors), has led to an increase in outputs being available openly – and the UK is leading the way.  

This session will outline the landscape and drivers for open access (focusing on the REF policy), provide some indications of how open access is being achieved, and will reflect on the future of open access in the UK.

Professor Stephen Curry and Dr Kelly Coate: Untangling Academic Publishing

Since the Second World War, academic publishing practices have had to cope with enormous changes in the scale of the research enterprise, in the culture and management of higher education, and in the ecosystem of scholarly publishers. The pace of change has been particularly rapid in the last twenty-five years, thanks to digital technologies. This has also been a time of growing divergence between the different roles of academic publishing: as a means of disseminating validated knowledge but also as a profitable business enterprise. A key phenomenon has been the growing importance of published works as career-defining tokens of prestige for academics, which has arguably led to the reluctance of many academics to turn to open access publishing. This historical approach helps us to understand how we arrived in the situation we are in, but also demonstrates that this was not an inevitable path.

This talk is based on a report published as one outcome of a 4 year AHRC funded project on the history of academic publishing led by Aileen Fyfe at the University of St Andrews. The report is available online here:



Claire Fraser is a Higher Education Policy Adviser in the Research Policy team at HEFCE. Her policy areas include open research; notably open access. Claire’s policy remit also includes research metrics, and postgraduate research students.

Professor Stephen Curry (@Stephen_Curry) is Professor of Structural Biology at Imperial College. An active campaigner on various issues – open access, research evaluation, metrics, public engagement and research funding – he also writes regularly in the Guardian and on his Reciprocal Space blog.

Dr Kelly Coate (@kellycoate) is Vice Dean (Education) in the Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy at King’s College London. Her research investigates the role of prestige in academic career progression, and the particular ways in which women academics are disadvantaged within the prestige economy.


The Higher Education Policy Network is convened by Dr Karen Smith, Professor Carole Leathwood and Dr Terri Kim

Network: Higher Education Policy
Date(s): Thursday, 22 February 2018
Times: 11:00 - 15:30
Location: SRHE, 73 Collier St, London N1 9BE
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