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REF 2021 panels should have free access to publications

Negotiations are underway to allow panellists for the next Research Excellence Framework to have free access to hundreds of thousands of online research outputs that may be needed in the assessment.

The Publishers’ Licensing Services is working to achieve this goal and reduce logistical and financial challenges in accessing so much material. In a statement on 30 April, PLS said that if publishers agree to the plan, it would “reduce the burden for researchers submitting outputs for assessment and provide assurance that outputs are handled in accordance with copyright”.

“It will also increase efficiency for the Research Excellence Framework assessment panels and save public money that would otherwise have been spent on fees,” said PLS. During REF 2014, PLS secured agreement from more than 400 publishers, which enabled panellists to access more than 97 per cent of journal articles online free of charge.

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