The REF Compliance Checker plugin for EPrints has been developed to help your institution comply with the Open Access policy of the UK HE Funding Bodies. The key points of the policy are shown below; the full details may be accessed from the HEFCE website: Policy for open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework: Updated July 2015.
- The policy states that, to be eligible for submission to the post-2014 REF, authors’ outputs must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository. Deposited material should be discoverable, and free to read and download, for anyone with an internet connection. The requirement applies only to journal articles and conference proceedings with an International Standard Serial Number. It will not apply to monographs, book chapters, other long-form publications, working papers, creative or practice-based research outputs, or data.
- The policy applies to research outputs accepted for publication after 1 April 2016. Institutions are being strongly encouraged to implement systems to enable them to meet this deadline as soon as possible.
- The policy allows repositories to respect embargo periods set by publications. Where a publication specifies an embargo period, authors can comply with the policy by making a ‘closed’ deposit. Closed deposits must be discoverable to anyone with an Internet connection before the full text becomes available for read and download (which will occur after the embargo period has elapsed). If still under embargo at the submission date of the next REF, closed deposits will be admissible to the REF.
- The output must have been deposited as soon after the point of acceptance as possible, and no later than three months after this date (as given in the acceptance letter or e-mail from the publication to the author).
- There are a number of exceptions to the various requirements that will be allowed by the policy. These exceptions cover circumstances where deposit was not possible, or where open access to deposited material could not be achieved within the policy requirements. These exceptions will allow institutions to achieve near-total compliance, but the post-2014 REF will also include a mechanism for considering any other exceptional cases where an output could not otherwise meet the requirements.
The REF Compliance Checker for EPrints
The purpose of the REF Compliance Checker is to smooth the process by which EPrints-using institutions can establish in a straightforward fashion whether an article or conference proceeding with an ISSN produced by a member of their organisation is eligible for the post-2014 REF. To do this effectively, the checker requires some metadata describing key facts such as the date of acceptance and the version type. The relevant metadata need to be checked against a set of logical rules that faithfully represent the requirements laid down in the Open Access policy of the UK Higher Education Funding Bodies.
- The REF Compliance Checker plugin for EPrints provides a straightforward means by which you can check whether an article or conference proceeding in your EPrints repository is eligible for the post-2014 REF.
- It does this by checking relevant metadata in your repository against the Open Access policy of the UK Higher Education Funding Bodies.
- The developers of the plugin worked closely with HEFCE to ensure that it is fit for purpose. A beta version of the plugin has been tested by a number of UK universities prior to general release in early January 2016.
- Jisc funded the development of the REF Compliance Checker plugin and it is freely available to all EPrints users. You may acquire the plugin from Github or the EPrints Bazaar.
- The REF Compliance Checker plugin integrates with the RIOXX2 plugin for EPrints and the DatesDatesDates plugin. In addition, if you wish to benefit from the reports generated by the plugin, you will need to have installed the Generic Reporting Framework.
- If your EPrints repository is hosted by a third party service provider, you may need to ask them to install the plugin for you since they may not permit the self-installation of plugins.
Metadata and terminology
Some new terminology has been developed to enable the plugin to perform its compliance tests effectively. These are listed below:
Date of first compliant deposit (FCD)
An item will be considered a compliant deposit if (a) it is in the Review or the Live Archive area of the repository and (b) it has the Accepted or Published version of the full text manuscript attached. The FCD metadata reflects the date that the item first met this criteria - for example when the item was submitted to the review section of the repository by the researcher, or when the accepted version of the full text was subsequently uploaded by an editor to the live side of the repository.
Once the Date of FCD is set, subsequent changes to the item will not affect it. The Date of FCD will be copied to any new versions created using the "New Version" option. The new version will effectively "inherit" the same Date of FCD as the previous version. The behaviour of the Date of FCD field in different circumstances is outlined in the table below.