Scottish (and British) Unis doing a good job at making their research outputs openly available

As per the figures in the Open Access category of the recently released CWTS Leiden Ranking 2019, three Scottish Universities feature in the top 10 worldwide in terms of the percentage of its research publications indexed in the Web of Science that are available Open Access as measured via Unpaywall. This is a remarkable result considering how we rank in other categories covered by the analysis, such as research impact, collaborations (including with industry) and gender.

The number of UK institutions sitting high up in this institutional ranking by rate of openness is also truly outstanding: there are no less than 26 British institutions in the top 30. This is the result of the intensive work by institutional Open Access teams nationwide for the implementation of the Open Access policy designed by the Higher Education Funding Councils. This policy requires the deposit and open availability of the publications in the institutional systems at universities across the country in order for these publications to be eligible for research assessment purposes.

This policy design matches the recommendations made by the EU-funded PASTEUR4OA FP7 project – see Alma Swan’s slides below advocating for exactly the kind of policy that kicked-off in the UK as of Apr 1st, 2016.


It’s worth noting that none of the two Universities highlighted in Alma’s slides as best practice case studies in OA policy design is currently sitting anywhere close to the top of this CWTS ranking. This highlights the value of the network effect, whereby a national-level policy enables a kind of cross-institutional teamworking that surpasses any single-institution policy effort on the basis of the conviction of a specific institutional leader. The EC OA policy is of course another good example for the networking effect of a wide-ranging policy, and the figures for European institutions are nothing short of remarkable – they show where UK Unis would be without the HEFCE policy.

Finally, the CWTS Leiden ranking allows to drill down into the figures for a specific institution to find out how much Green, Gold and Bronze Open Access has contributed to the total score. Looking at the figures for Strathclyde Uni (which happens to be one’s institution, but the percentages are fairly similar across institutions), it’s again clear that Green Open Access – as required by the policy – provides the lion’s share of the aggregate figure.


The ranking is based on outputs published in the period 2014-2017, meaning that it covers just the first couple of years of the HEFCE policy. Any future analysis extending into 2018 is likely to yield even better figures as the implementation gets more successful (and the Open Access Scotland Group enables an ever more effective cross-institutional teamworking).

Open Access Funding – Chief Scientist’s Office

Hello All,

I am posting this to this list as it is a specifically Scottish question – for other issues I recommend use of UKCoRR or ARMA OA Special Interest Group mailing lists to get wider input.

Here is what I am wondering:

If a paper is funded by both a COAF funder and CSO then we should probably see if CSO will pay or contribute to the cost rather than charge the total to COAF.  Presumably at some point COAF might question such a practice.  Of course this is more admin and time consuming for author and OA teams.

What do people do?  Please respond to vote and/or ‘leave a comment’ using the menu item at top left of this post.


Repository Fringe 2018: GDPR Session

Valerie and I attended the excellent Repository Fringe 2018 at the start of the month and hosted a short update session on GDPR.

We had some excellent contributions from the discussion groups and, although there were a couple of technology hiccups, it was great to hear so many people chatting about the impact of GDPR, the roles of libraries and research staff, systems changes, and some of the definitions and terms surrounding GDPR.

You can find the google doc that we created to record the session here

OA Scotland September meeting

The next meeting of the OA Scotland Group will take place in Aberdeen on the 17th of September. You can book your place via Eventbrite.

Thanks to our wonderful community we are receiving some great suggestions for the September meeting agenda.

  • GDPR
  • REF Open Access Exceptions.
  • IEEE (, offer to talk about their open access offerings and invite suggestions from the community.
  • Text and Data mining (OpenMinted – ) – what is it and how is it relevant to the Open Access Scotland Community?

We have also had some new suggestions coming through including:

  • A brief talk from The Publishing Trap around copyright literacy
  • A discussion on Hybrid Gold open access payments, and
  • A brief update on the REF audit document

If anyone would like talk on these subjects or if you are in support of the addition to the agenda please let me know by email ( Also if you have any other agenda items that you would like to see covered in September please get in touch.

GDPR and UK Data Protection Bill

The OA Scotland Working Group will be providing some more information on GDPR at Repository Fringe 2018, 2-3 July 2018, at The Royal Society of Edinburgh. A full programme of events can be found at and you can book a place at

To help you prepare for GDPR we have produced a summary of how GDPR may influence research and researchers in Universities.

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force, in just a few days time, on 25 May 2018. The UK Data Protection Bill is passing through parliament and reached the third reading at the House of Commons on the 9th of May. The UK’s intention to leave Europe will not affect the enforcement of GDPR.

GDPR applies to personal data held by organisations – i.e. any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’).  An identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly through, for example, a name, identification number, location data, an online identifier to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identify of that natural person.

GDPR gives more control to individuals over their personal data and increases transparency on data collection and handling of personal data. Under GDPR, organisations, such as Universities, will have to show how they meet data protection standards and keep records of decisions made on processing of personal data.

For researchers who work with personal data there are a number of areas to consider:

  • understanding individuals rights,
  • carrying out data protection impact assessments,
  • improving safeguards for personal data,
  • understanding the legal basis for processing personal data,
  • reviewing transfers of data to 3rdparties and non-European countries, and
  • reporting data breaches.

Continue reading “GDPR and UK Data Protection Bill”

Scotland tops table for OA availability of publications in 2014

This recently released pre-print “Evidence of Open Access of scientific publications in Google Scholar: a large-scale analysis” includes the figure below for Open Access and Free Availability (FA) levels for documents published in 2014 by researchers in countries with high output (>1% of the total number of publications accounted for).


Even accounting for a complex OA monitoring strategy based on Google Scholar, the figures for Scotland — which the WoS affiliation scheme processes separately from the rest of the UK — are quite remarkable. Considering that this stats pre-date the HEFCE policy, it’s not difficult to imagine that the percentage for openly available outputs should significantly increase in subsequent years — esp for Green OA.

Given the rather loose definition of Free Availability (FA) used in the pre-print — including sources such as ResearchGate — the key column to look at would be %OA Total. Just three entries feature levels above 50% OA in this column, with Scotland leading the pack.

The comment across the Schol Comms team over here goes “It seems completely alien to be typing the words “Scotland” and “wins” within the same sentence!”


Data Protection, Open Access, Open Data

Thank you to everyone who joined us last week to find out more about the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and to engage in valuable discussions.

The session, including the presentation and list of resources, is documented here

Some of the key actions that came out of the meeting were
· Create shared documentation for GDPR, including checklists, privacy notices and templates
· Collaborate and share best practice hints and tips
· Follow up the event with an update at the next Open Access Scotland Working group

An outline document has been created for you to start sharing best practice and documentation, and we look forward to seeing the resources that are contributed. You can access it here

We will be providing an update on GDPR at the next Open Access Scotland Working Group on the 19th of March.

Thanks to everyone who took part last week
Best wishes

Nykohla Strong
Research Information Officer
Research and Innovation
The University of Aberdeen