On 21 March 2013, the British Academy published a response to RCUK’s revised open access policy and guidelines. The statement contrasts the limited time period available for consultation unfavourably with the more considered approach being taken by HEFCE, and raises ‘particular concerns relating to the humanities and social sciences’.

A lack of clarity in the language relating to embargo periods is highlighted, and there is a suggestion that in some areas, the RCUK statement ‘appears to go beyond the current limits of government policy’. The British Academy’s position on licensing, and the use of CC-BY in particular, appears to differ somewhat from the most commonly rehearsed arguments, focusing on the creation of ‘derivative’ works rather than on, for example, commercial exploitation:

“Many articles in humanities and social science disciplines are the product of single-author scholarship, where there is more of a claim on ‘moral rights’ that are not adequately protected under an unrestricted CC-BY licence. We believe that an ‘Attribution-NoDerivs’ licence (CC-BY-ND) will often be more appropriate for the humanities and social sciences.”

The Academy also calls for more information about the timing and nature of reviews of the policy and its effects after 2014.

The statement concludes:

“We welcome the fact that RCUK, in its revised guidance document published in March 2013, has taken on board some of the points raised by the Committee, and put to it by the Academy and other bodies, but believe that further revisions need to be made. One important reason for such further revisions is to reflect the specific needs of the humanities and social sciences.”

In order to begin to capture some of these specific needs in more detail, the British Academy has now launched a survey relating to the ‘Impact of OA publishing on HSS learned societies and subject organisations’.