Update on supporting Open Access for books, book chapters and edited collections at Kent

open book on laptop

From January 2024 Open Access requirements for books, book chapters and edited collections arising from UKRI funded projects have existed.   

The Open Research team in the library have been developing guidance and processes to enable Kent researchers to comply. This is an update on progress.    

January-April activity 

An email from our DVC for Research and Innovation communicated the essential information about the changes. Researchers were asked to complete a short Microsoft Form to help us identify needs.  

22 researchers responded, 8 of which related to in-scope UKRI publications.  

We followed up with meetings with these researchers to discuss their options in detail.  

This provided us with 4 test cases where we could support our researchers and also develop our internal processes at the same time.  

All our applications to use UKRI’s central funds have been successful.  

We have committed £18,900 to pay for OA for one chapter and two monographs. £16,900 of this will be re-claimed from UKRI.   

We needed a system for recording information and managing applications. We had anticipated that JISC’s new version of their platform Monitor would address this, but it was withdrawn at short notice. Consequently we are building our own system for managing and monitoring Kent Open Access finance using Power BI.  


We’ve published a web guide Make your book or chapter Open Access with tools, resources and links to academics talking about their experiences of publishing OA 


Detailed guidance about UKRI funded projects and requirements for books, chapters and edited collections  

We need to apply to UKRI for funds on behalf of Kent researchers so we’ve developed a Open Access Longform funding application form in Topdesk for researchers to complete to enable us to do this.  


 £30,000 of the University’s Research Enhancing the Environment Funding (REEF) was secured for Open Access book publishing. Having established that there are UKRI projects at Kent that require OA support and explored the options for use of these funds, we have refined an approach for the best use of the REEF. We agreed with our Research and Innovation Support Department  that this £30,000 will be used as ‘seed capital’ to create the foundation for rolling funding which will sustain us throughout future years.  UKRI require us to pay the initial invoices for OA publication. We are able to re-claim this money back from UKRI at twice-yearly intervals, but the library needs funds from which to make the initial payments. 

We are still working on a process to manage funds across financial years. It is likely that, due to the time required to publish, funds will be committed in one financial year and reclaimed in another.

 Problems and principles

Although UKRI will re-imburse the library for the cost of OA publishing, they have set £10,000 as the maximum amount that we can reclaim for a whole book and £1,000 for a chapter.  UKRI state that these figures  represent a sector average.   

The action that should be taken when these amounts are exceeded is not clear; ‘costing too much’ or ‘a quote in excess of the UKRI maximum” are not recognised by UKRI as causes for exemption from requirements.  

 We consulted with our peers in the sector to see what approach they are taking at other universities.  This indicated a mixed approach to solving this shared issue. It highlighted a tension between 

(1) a researcher-centric model and an aim to make OA publishing easy for our researchers  


(2) UKRI’s financial model and sustainability aims.   

 We are trying to navigate through this.  

At Kent we have concluded that we do not, in principle, wish to set a precedent for OA costs that are unsustainable, not transparent and therefore do not appear to represent value for money.  We propose that we will not provide top ups or support Open Access costs beyond the £10,000 and £1,000 limits. We will accommodate some leeway for VAT costs.

Where publishers quotes do appear excessive we are contacting publishers 

  • pointing out that their charges do not compare favourably with those of other publishers, many of whom are making efforts to restrain costs to within the UKRI’s limit 
  • requesting a breakdown of their OA cost so that we can see what we would receive for these charges and how they are justifiable 
  • requesting that they consider a more flexible approach for an OA version or consider reducing their costs to bring it closer to other publisher’s costs and to the amounts that funders such as UKRI feel is reasonable 

If an appeal to a publisher is unsuccessful, we will deal with each scenario on a case-by-case basis and refer back to our Research Culture and Environment Steering Group. 

 Unmet need and the future REF  

Our initial request for academics to indicate an interest in OA publishing for their research books or chapters, has provided evidence of unmet need at Kent.  

15 Kent academics across a range of disciplines wish to publish their work Open Access. These publications do not relate to UKRI projects so there are no funds available to them. Cost estimate totals for those that could be published in 2024 are £64,565 and for those due to publish in 2025 £55,275.  

Research England are consulting on their proposed changes to Open Access requirements for the REF 2029. This proposal includes extending OA to books and book chapters along very similar lines to the UKRI requirements. Our work on supporting Kent academics with UKRI OA requirements for books is good preparation.  

What next?

We are

  • undertaking a review of our REF Assisted Deposit Service, where we add articles to KAR on behalf of academics, to establish whether it would be possible to extend this service to include books and book chapters . 
  • looking into opportunities for our researchers to publish OA without the payment of a Book Processing Charge. We are evaluating the wide variety of community agreements and other models available to decide which are most useful for Kent.  
  • familiarising ourselves with UKRI’s TFS, investigating UKRI’s Stage 2 application process, and establishing an internal process for managing funds across financial years. 

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