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Best practices in the institutional implementation of the FP7 Post-Grant OA Pilot (II)

Implementing the FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot at Radboud University/Radboud University Medical Centre
Guest post by Dirk van Gorp, Open Access Officer and Research Information Specialist at Radboud University Library

Radboud University/Radboud University Medical Center (Radboudumc) is one of the leading universities in the Netherlands. Our more than 5000 researchers produce a combined scientific output of almost 7000 publications per year. Radboud University has been at the forefront of the Open Access movement. We take part in the Dutch ‘big deal’ negotiations with major publishers and Radboud University Library has initiated and carried out several Open Access projects, such as switching several major linguistic journals to open access as part of the LingOA initiative. Since August 2015 we have been working on the implementation of the FP7 Post-Grant OA Pilot, which has been very successful so far.

The most important step in the implementation process is reaching those researchers who have been involved in a finished FP7 project. This has also proven to be the most problematic. The pilot only allows funding for publications derived of closed FP7 projects, and only those in full Open Access journals are eligible. Scholars have other priorities than finding funding for open access publications. Naturally, with the importance of impact factor ranking for careers, scholars tend to submit their papers to high ranking journals first, many of which are hybrid or do not provide an Open Access option. In addition, the ‘big deals’ allow Dutch researchers to make their output Open Access available in many traditional journals, so that acquiring additional funding isn’t warranted. Hence, finding publications that met all criteria has been challenging. Through presentations at several departmental meetings, we put the word out that additional funding was available, and that the library could offer assistance. However, it wasn’t until we reached out to researchers themselves that funding requests started started coming in.

In order to contact individual scholars, we first acquired a list of all projects in which Radboud University/Radboud University Medical Center researchers had been involved in, and then filtered out all projects that weren’t eligible according to the project’s end-dates. The next step was sending emails to the officially listed project coordinators working at Radboud/Radboudumc. However, we soon discovered that many were not closely involved with the project itself, and so only a few had insight into any published or upcoming papers derived from the project. Thus, we reached out to the departmental research offices, who managed to link projects with the names of the actual researchers, so that we could contact potentially eligible authors personally. We generated an email template which gets sent to all authors involved in finished FP7 projects. If there is no response, we send a reminder after several months. Thus we managed to gather a few funding requests in late 2015. We decided early on that it would be best to process all funding requests ourselves, so that we can monitor the number of requests made, but more importantly so that we can relieve researchers from the time-consuming administration tasks involved in submitting a funding request.

The implementation of the FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot was greatly improved when we received a block grant transfer with a mandate to a) establish request eligibility ourselves (which we did in close cooperation with LIBER nonetheless), and b) reimburse fees for papers that had already been paid by authors (since the start of the pilot). As many researchers didn’t know of this pilot upon publication (despite our efforts to inform as many scholars as possible), this latter option was quite valuable.

The option of reimbursing already paid publications proved to be an ideal combination with the pre-payment agreements with publishers. Once the agreement was put into effect, LIBER was able to identify eligible manuscripts upon submission, allowing us to reach out to individual researchers at a very early stage in the publishing cycle.  Although the funding of publications via the OpenAIRE system that we used at the beginning was effective and quick, it's much smoother to get the publications reimbursed locally at the institution via the block grant. Supported by the information feed on submitted manuscripts, this decentralized funding mechanism is progressing very efficiently, with 8 requests processed in only a few months. In October 2016, almost all of the transferred block grant has been used, and we expect to request a top-up soon.

Not only does the FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot allow us to acquire much-needed funding for Open Access publications from Radboud/Radboudumc researchers. It also provides us with the opportunity to build a relation of trust with the research groups so that they're able to rely on the Library to advice on and, where applicable, to take care of the funding for their accepted manuscripts. It's only an early test so far, and the Library's human resources are far from unlimited too, but some researchers are already able to see the benefits of such a collaborative model and are regularly getting in contact for advice on their early stage publications.


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24 Sep 2021

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