Languages Research

Research in modern languages in the UK continues to be both varied and prolific, as the run-up to REF is showing us. Government belief in our field is slowly growing, and we have the strong support of the British Academy, which has benefited from close collaboration with UCML. But, as a key field in the humanities, we also face a number of challenges, both in the UK and in Europe, in relation both to our own research and that of younger researchers.

This area of the site focuses on information, updates, organisations and projects of relevance to languages research and is updated by UCML Vice Chair for Research Naomi Segal.

Open World Research Initiative.

UCML was represented at the AHRC launch event for this initiative. The briefing document is upladed here and you can access the presentation slides here

Research dissemination: Open Access

The report of BIS on Open Access was published on 10 September 2013. It can be accessed online at (All the written & oral evidence submitted - including UCML's - is also on The summary of its conclusions can be found at:

The key conclusions are:

  • The Government & RCUK should reconsider their preference for Gold OA during the 5-year transition period (since 'Green accounts for ca 75% of all open access worldwide);
  • The Government  should take an active role in promoting standardisation & compliance across subject and institutional repositories;
  • RCUK should strengthen & reinforce its immediate deposit mandate;
  • The Government & RCUK should revise their policy of 6-month embargo for STEM and 12-months for humanities, arts & social sciences, on the grounds that long embargoes are neither useful nor necessary;
  • The Government should mitigate the impact on universities of paying Article Processing Charges out of their own reserves;
  • If the preference for Gold is maintained, the Government & RCUK should ensure that APCs are only paid to publishers of pure Gold rather than hybrid journals.

In relation to our particular concern, international publishing, the report says:

33. Despite the Government’s claim that its open access policy and preference for Gold is ‘going with the grain’ of worldwide trends, we have received strong evidence that Green is dominant internationally, with the latest data showing that Green accounts for about 75% of all open access worldwide. The UK produces about 7% of the world’s published research articles. The vast majority of the total global output is accessible only through subscriptions. Therefore, even as the UK invests heavily in Gold by funding APCs, libraries and others must continue to pay subscription charges in order to access the majority of the remaining 93% of the world’s research output. As we have seen, the UK currently produces about double the open access output of the rest of the world, and therefore institutions can expect to pay to access the majority of research outputs published worldwide for a long time.

34. The risk of the UK paying twice to fund Gold by paying APCs while having to maintain its subscription outgoings was recognised nearly a decade ago by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, which concluded that “the UK would put itself at a financial disadvantage internationally if it were to act alone in mandating publicly-funded researchers to publish in author-pays journals”. The quantitative evidence we have seen shows that the costs of unilaterally adopting Gold open access during a transitional period (when subscriptions are maintained) are much higher than those of Green open access [...]

35. Government and RCUK should rigorously monitor global take up of Gold and Green and international developments in open access policy worldwide. This data should be used to inform both the reconvening of representatives of the Finch working group in the Autumn of 2013, and RCUK’s review of its open access policy in 2014.




The rapid development of Open Access publishing is of urgent concern to Subject Associations. UCML held a discussion of OA issues as they affect our field  in the afternoon of the Plenary meeting of 18 January 2013.

We sent our response in to the HEFCE consultation on the requirement of research items to be Open Access for the next REF (possibly 2020). Both the HEFCE document and the UCML reply are attached below (items 1 and 2).

Most of the discussion so far in the UK has focused on journal publication; but the future of book publication is being scoped in the AHRC-funded, JISC-hosted OAPEN-UK project, which is a pilot investigation in collaboration with a number of publishers on how OA is likely to affect monographs & edited collections; it also held focus groups with a range of interested parties, including Subject Associations/Learned Societies; these meeting reports can all be found on , and provide a very useful snapshot of the views of a range of stakeholders.

OAPEN-UK held a two-day conference on OA in relation to monographs at the British Library in early July 2013; all info, including presentations, can be found at: Here you can also find a summary of the issues on copyright: the Guide to Creative Commons:

At the same time, the British Academy published a very useful summary of the issues; titled Debating Open Access, it is available for download at

Open Access debates in 2012

OA was a key issue in the meeting of AHRC with Subject Associations (see below) held in June 2012, and in the same month a document on the practical implications of Gold Open Access (for journal publication) was published by the UK Open Access Implementation Group; it can also be found below.

The Finch report was published in July 2012 - see Executive Summary below - and produced a flurry of responses which can be accessed online..

On 22 October 2012, a meeting was held at the British Academy: HSS Learned Societies and Subject Associations Network: Open Access for Humanities and Social Sciences, focusing on the recommendations and proposals of the Finch Group in July 2012 and discussing the implications for the future in terms of publication, funding and assessment of research. Presentations by Michael Jubb (RIN & Finch Cttee), Mark Llewellyn (AHRC Diector of Research), Paul Rowlett (University of Salford) and Audrey McCulloch (Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers) can be found at

On 29-30 November 2012 a meeting for Subject Associations in the social sciences & humanities was held by the Academy of Social Sciences under the title Implementing 'Finch'. speakers included Janet Finch, Lynne Brindley, Tim Blackman. All info (including ppts of the talks and a youtube of the event) can be accessed at:


European Perspectives

As UK (AHRC) representative on the Standing Committee for the Humanities of the European Science Foundation [ESF] from 2005 to 2011, I was involved in many activities, including HERA and ERIH. The ESF is one of the very few organisations worldwide to have a section specifically for the humanities. A brief report on recent developments in ESF is appended, as is a document on the future of ERIH as a bibliographic access tool expanding to cover social sciences as well as humanities. For all info on humanities in the ESF, see


For all up-to-date info on AHRC, see

For information on AHRC's International Placement Scheme, see

AHRC's five-year Strategic Plan 2013-2018 is now available - attached below (item 3).