Case Study: Open Access Workflow Improvements at QMUL

9th March 2016

Recently, we came across this post on the blog of opeNWorks – a community of practice for Open Access publishing in the North West of England, built on a collaboration by Jisc and the University of Manchester. It details the setup of OA policy compliance at Queen Mary University London, and a typical researchers’ workflow in depositing OA publications.

We were delighted to see some encouraging statistics – including the 1000% increase in deposits in the 12 months following Elements’ Open Access prompt. It’s also interesting to see a monetary value placed on the time saved dealing with problem-free deposits.

We’re grateful for Helen Dobson at the University of Manchester for permission to repost this study.


Queen Mary University London (QMUL) currently has approximately 1675 research staff and 1554 Postgraduate Research students.

The annual output of research papers is estimated to be 2700, based on Scopus data.

QMUL’s CRIS (Current Research Information System) is Symplectic Elements, and they have a DSpace institutional repository, QMRO.

Open Access governance

Strategic responsibility for Open Access policy implementation lies with QMUL’s Vice Principal for Research.  QMUL’s preference is for Green Open Access – it has issued guidelines rather than a formal policy which have not been widely adopted or communicated.

The Library is the operational lead on Open Access, managing QMRO and the University’s RCUK Open Access block grant.  The Library’s Research Support Manager provides Open Access updates to a new group, made up of directors of research and the grant office.

Repository and Research Information Team

The Library team is made up of 7 members of staff:

Research Support Manager (1.0 FTE)
Repository and Research Information Team Manager (1.0 FTE)
Senior Library Assistant (5 .0 FTE)

The team has expanded recently due to increases in the usage of QMRO, based on the current approach to deposit, and the number of Gold Open Access payment request.

A named contact (1.0 FTE) in QMUL’s IT department provides technical support for the repository and Elements.

Approach to deposit for HEFCE’s Open Access policy

QMUL have not introduced a new deposit workflow in preparation for the HEFCE Open Access policy. Researchers at QMUL have been required to claim or create publication records since Elements was introduced and the Library has always provided a mediated support service, verifying papers and setting embargo periods in the QMRO. Although the deposit workflow isn’t new, most authors need to adapt their behaviour to meet HEFCE’s ‘deposit on acceptance’ requirement.

Authors are required to complete a number of mandatory fields:

  • Relationship to article
  • Article type
  • Date of acceptance
  • Publication status
  • Article title
  • Authors
  • Journal title

Deposit of papers is not mandated, but library staff pursue the full-text when a copy is not deposited. Currently, papers are deposited for approximately 50% of records created. The Library team believe that authors engage with the deposit process due to the prompt in Elements that highlights records without full-text. The rate of deposit has increased by 1000% within 12 months following the switch-on of the publication prompt in Elements and discussion about the HEFCE Open Access policy.

Authors are asked to deposit papers that are published as Gold Open Access in QMRO and to create publication records and provide links to papers deposited in other repositories.


Step 1
  • On acceptance, author creates publication record, completing mandatory metadata fields in Elements.


  • On acceptance, author creates publication record, completing mandatory metadata fields and uploads manuscript in Elements.


  • On acceptance, delegate creates publication record with minimal metadata and uploads manuscript in Elements.

Completion of the deposit process in Elements creates a publication record in QMRO.

Step 2
  • Library contacts author to request manuscript if publication is not deposited
  • Library carries out checks on DSpace record:
    • Is publication metadata accurate? If not, enhance record.
    • Does journal comply with HEFCE/REF OA policy? If not, record as an exception.
    • Can submitted manuscript be deposited? If not, contact author.
  • Library allocates publication record to a collection in DSpace. Record is open unless library is aware of a metadata embargo.
  • Library monitors publication status of accepted records.

Following publication

Step 3
  • Library updates metadata
  • Library sets embargo periods
  • Library makes all verified records open


Some metadata fields aren’t carried over from Elements to QMRO, increasing the manual intervention required from library staff.

The Library team manages publication records in QMRO but not Elements, which populates staff profile pages. Embargoes applied to QMRO publication metadata records are not automatically reflected in Elements.


A range of awareness-raising activities have been undertaken, including at Open Access Week, eg. engaging staff with a research remit or research responsibility at meetings in their department, regular workshops and drop-in sessions.


The Library does not currently provide compliance reports to faculties, but has been asked by some departments to keep them informed of non-compliant authors. The team currently contact individual authors to alert them when their papers don’t meet funder policy requirements.

The Elements HEFCE policy function has recently been implemented and will assist with monitoring and reporting.


QMUL hasn’t introduced a new workflow and so hasn’t set success criteria. The increased deposit level noted over the past 12 months is the key indicator of the effectiveness of the current approach.

Cost of approach to deposit

The time for a publication record to be created and a full-text attached is estimated to be 3 minutes. On the assumption that academic staff carry out this task the cost per paper is estimated to be £1.65.

The time to manage a deposit for a problem-free paper is estimated to be 5 minutes. Deposits are managed by Senior Library Assistants. The cost per paper is estimated to be £1.60.

The total cost for problem-free papers is estimated to be £3.25.

The time taken to create a publication record is expected to be constant. However, it is likely that problematic papers will take the Senior Library Assistants double the time (10 mins) to manage the deposit @ £3.25 per paper. The total cost for a problematic paper is therefore estimated to be £4.85.

To calculate the estimated annual total cost of QMUL’s deposit workflow it is assumed that 80% of papers will be problem-free and 20% of papers will be problematic.

(2160 problem-free papers @ £3.25) + (540 problematic papers @ £4.85) =£9,639.

Source: opeNWorks blog, 2nd March, 2016