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Research Dissemination

The Committee publishes a monthly newsletter with a round up of publication policy and research communication news, meetings and events. To subscribe to this newsletter sign in to mySociety and select ‘Subscribe to our publications’, then choose which items you wish to receive. Non-members can also subscribe to Royal Society of Biology e-newsletters by registering with the website.

The latest issue of this newsletter is available as a PDF. 

Open Access

Open Access (OA) stands for the unrestricted access to peer-reResearch_Communications_Newsletter_February_2023viewed research. Under the OA publishing models, individuals are able to read, search and download content free of charge. This is a change from the traditional publication model where readers pay to access journal articles or institutions pay subscription fees to a suite of journals for their researchers and readers to access.

There have been a number of policy changes in recent years that reflect the UK Governments commitment to OA. The following paragraphs provide more information; if you have any further queries please contact us at

The Finch Group

To examine how UK-funded research findings can be made more accessible, and independent Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings (also known as the Finch Committee after Chair Dame Janet Finch) was established in 2011. Head of science policy, Dr Laura Bellingan was one of three representatives for Learned Societies on the working group. The final report, published in June 2012 is available for download. In essence, the group recommended a clear policy direction in the UK towards support for ‘Gold’ open access publishing, where publishers receive their revenues from authors rather than readers, and so research articles become freely accessible to everyone immediately upon publication.

The Rt Hon David Willets MP, Minister for Universities and Science wrote to Dame Janet Finch detailing his response to the policy, cost, sustainability, international considerations and future developments of the Group's recommendations.

The group subsequently published a one-year-on report in November 2013 which reviewed progress in the implementation of their recommendations. 

Green & Gold

Green OA and Gold OA are the two main types of Open Access publication models.The Finch Report defines them as:

Green: Access without payment to a peer-reviewed published article via a repository, often after an embargo period. The length of embargo periods i.e. the length of time after publishing in which you can publish your article, or a version of it, open access will vary according to the publisher. Generally the author does not pay for the green OA publishing service.

Gold: Access without payment to a peer-reviewed published article via the publisher’s own platform immediately on publication, with a wide range of reuse rights. Often, but not always, the author pays for this service via ‘Article Processing Charges’ (APCs) which will vary according to journal, article length and publisher.

Funder Policies

A number of key research funders in the UK have explicit open access policies. These include Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust, which also has a useful Authors Guide. The four UK higher education funding bodies have introduced an open-access requirement in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework. The core of the policy is that journal articles and conference proceedings must be available in an open-access form to be eligible for the post-2014 REF.

Implementing RCUK OA requirements

On behalf of RCUK, the Research Information Network has completed a report on policies and procedures adopted by universities in implementing RCUK open access (OA) requirements.

It is hoped that the findings and recommendations point to some useful lessons for the sector as a whole; and that the experiences presented in the report will provide valuable pointers to further action for the benefit of individual universities, RCUK, and the sector as a whole.

Journal Content Mining

The RSB produced position statement on Journal Content Mining that calls for stakeholders to take a pioneering lead in this area. We therefore welcome the development of Crossref's 'Prospect' service which enables a Common Application Programming Interface (API) and License Registry that allows researchers to easily harvest content for text and data mining analysis using a standard API across all publishers.

Creative Commons licences

As open access policies develop around the world, authors will increasingly need to comply with mandates regarding copyright. Since this can be difficult to navigate, the Research Dissemination Committee has produced a paper explaining the different types of ‘Creative Commons licenses’, a type of copyright license that is suitable for open access articles: Creative Commons licences; Society of Biology Guidelines for Authors and Users.

Creative Commons is distinct from research funding and globally applicable; however it is explained in this paper with regards to UK funded research.

This paper is intended to be shared widely and to facilitate internationally collaborative research articles. Please circulate the document to colleagues.

We are keen to hear your feedback and questions on open access and Creative Commons licenses. To comment, please get in touch via


Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

DOAJ is an online directory that indexes and provides access to open access, peer-reviewed journals

The Directory of Open Access Repositories - OpenDOAR

OpenDOAR is a listing of open access repositories around the world. OpenDOAR is maintained by SHERPA Services, based at the Centre for Research Communications at The University of Nottingham.

Learned Societies OA Toolkit

The UK Open Access Implementation Group have developed a tool kit tool kit for Learned Societies to review options and take decisions about Gold Open Access publishing. The tool kit provides guidance on changing publishing processes, and managing and reviewing the impact of these changes.

Research Information Network (RIN)

Links to the Finch report and papers

Open Access Good Practice

The Jisc open access (OA) good practice initiative aims to bring together librarians, repository managers, research managers, researchers and others to improve understanding and share best practice in the OA environment.

News Items

How to reach a wider audience for your research?

Open access in the UK and what it means for scientific research

New Report on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings

Statement on open access

BIS Committee report on the post-Finch open access landscape (10 September 2013)

Government response to the BIS Committee report on the post-Finch open access landscape (26 November 2013)

Consultation Responses

The Royal Society of Biology has responded to a number of consultations on open access publishing and the implications government policy will have on researchers and learned societies.

Review of the Implementation of RCUK Policy on Open Access
Research Councils UK (RCUK) held an initial independent review of their policy on open access.

House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee short inquiry into Open Access
The Committee held an inquiry which focused on the implementation of the Government open access policy. Download a pdf of the Government response.

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee inquiry into the Government’s Open Access policy
The BIS Committee held an inquiry into the Government's open access policy.

RCUK Policy on Open Access
Research Councils UK (RCUK) held a consultation on open access and supporting guidance.

HEFCE Open Access and Submissions to the Research Excellence Framework post 2014
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), along with the HEFCW (Higher Education Funding Council for Wales), SFC (Scottish Funding Council) and the Department for Employment and Learning, held a consultation into the proposed criteria for open access, the definition of research outputs to which the criteria will apply and the proposed approaches to allowing exceptions from the open access requirement in the post-2014 REF (Research Excellence Framework).