Last week I was invited to participate in the 4th European legal e-access conference in Paris / 4e JEIJ (Journées Européennes d’Informatique Juridique). It was the third time I took part in the JEIJ (see for instance my slides from the previous edition) but the first time I did so by video conference.
I was a panellist on one of the second day round-tables which was entitled “Open Legal Science, utopia?” (see full programme of the conference). The round table had been discussing the impact on open access in France of Article 30 of the 2016 Loi numérique / Digital Republic Act, which notably defines the conditions under which authors of publicly funded research can make their articles available in an open access format even when those articles have initially been published under an exclusive license to commercial publishers. See for instance the English version of the White Paper by the CNRS on the avenues for the implementation of this open access requirement in science.
My contribution consisted in highlighting the position in the UK which is arguably even more pro open-access than that. Indeed, it was decided in 2014 that in order to be eligible for the assessment and funding exercise known as the Research Excellence Framework (REF), that research outputs such as journal articles and conference proceedings HAD to be made available in open access. The requirements that “authors’ outputs must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository” and that “Deposited material should be discoverable, and free to read and download, for anyone with an internet connection” became application to output published after the 1st April 2016. Therefore, all the UK higher education institutions involved in research have issued policy guidelines for their employees to that effect. And I described how those requirements were implemented in the Open Access / REF guidelines from the University of Edinburgh.
I also highlighted that it will be interesting to see how this change in policy might impact the amount and quality of submissions for open access journals such as the Edinburgh Law School’s own law and technology journal, SCRIPTed, which I helped launch more than a decade ago and have been a member of the editorial board ever since.
Thanks a lot to the Scientific Committee of the conference, especially to Jean Gasnault, for having invited me to the conference and I hope I will have the opportunity to report back on the state of open access legal research in the UK at the 5th edition of the JEIJ, in 2020 (just in time for the next REF).
 Loi n° 2016-1321 du 7 octobre 2016 pour une République numérique.
 CNRS DIST & Cabinet Alain Bensoussan, White Paper: Open Science in a Digital Republic – Study Review and Proposals for Implementing the Act (2016) <http://www.cnrs.fr/dist/z-outils/documents/white-paper-digital-republic.pdf>.