You can’t say that the REF doesn’t provoke strong reactions. It’s been called academia’s very own “spawn of satan”, a “Frankenstein monster” and “a Minotaur that must be appeased by bloody sacrifices” – and like a recurring nightmare, there is another on the not-so-distant horizon, in the form of the 2020 iteration. While many academics are taking a well-deserved rest in sunny climes, there is a seemingly far away REF-shaped cloud edging its way ever closer.
Like dog years, I am sure that pre-REF years play temporal tricks, contracting time into an otherworldly calendar. So, without wishing to rain on the parade, assuming that the timetable is the same as REF 2014, we would aim to publish books and journals by September 2019 – a mere four earth years away! As an academic press we take our REF responsibilities immensely seriously, needing to ensure that books and journal articles are published before the census date, which for REF 2014 was 31st October.
We are always proud to play our part in this vital event in British academic life and will make strenuous efforts to bring publications to timely fruition, but this requires careful future planning and author engagement. Of course, you may be well on your way to publishing your quotient for REF, but if not, we urge you to start the process without delay. Remember, you have to write your proposal, submit it, undergo the standard UWP academic commissioning procedures (peer review of the proposal, and if positive, formal approval and contract), before the really tough bit of writing and finetuning your manuscript. Your work will then be peer reviewed in its entirety, with some contingency built in to respond to any observations and revisions required by the review, before it goes into production. In common with other university presses, we’ll be requesting longer lead-in times than usual – it is not that it takes so long for us to publish a book, but we’ll be faced with a raft of publications which have to be published by the same date, putting pressure on all in the REF food-chain: authors, heads of department, UWP staff and our freelance copy editors, proof readers, cover designers and printers.
So the moral of the story is, please submit your manuscripts early: we’ll love you and so will your research director!
And naturally, we can’t talk about REF without mentioning Open Access. In March 2014 the UK HE bodies announced a new policy for OA in the post-2014 REF: for outputs accepted from April 2016 (journal articles and conference proceedings, not monographs or edited volumes), OA will be mandatory: either Gold, i.e. OA immediately upon publication by payment of an APC (Author Processing Charge); or Green, by deposit in university repositories, with an embargo period. The OA policy which required outputs to be deposited on acceptance for publication has been revised to state that outputs accepted from 1st April 2016 onwards can be deposited in a repository at any point between acceptance and up to 3 months after the date of publication. This is in recognition that institutions may need to establish new systems to implement the policy; however, outputs accepted from 1st April 2017 onwards would have to be deposited within 3 months of acceptance. Please see www.hefce.ac.uk for full details.
UWP wishes all our authors happy holidays.
Sarah Lewis, Commissioning Editor