Where did the open access movement come from?
A quiet revolution in scholarly publishing has been taking place over the last few years. To quote Neil Jacobs from JISC “It is probably fair to say that we are in the midst of one of the biggest shake-ups of research communication for 300 years and the UK is at the centre of many of these changes”.
Open access is a movement which aims to make research freely available to anyone. This is made possible by the use of the Internet and builds on the willingness of scholars to write up their research results for free which they have traditionally always done. The Budapest Open Access Initiative in February 2002 defined open access as “free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited”. Other organisations such as the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science have also issued declarations on open access. Obviously some scholars have concerns about such a liberal interpretation but most would probably sympathise with the general aim.
What are the benefits of making your work open access?
Apart from potential benefits to society as a whole, there is evidence that making your work more easily available increases the likelihood that you will be cited. There have been a range of studies done on this with varying results but the balance seems to come down on the side of open access being an advantage.
How can you make your work open access?
There are broadly two ways of making work open access. One is to publish in a journal which allows immediate free access, often referred to as gold open access. In many cases the publisher will charge the author an article processing fee to publish although there are also journals which are completely free. Information can be found in the Directory of Open Access Journals. The other is to make papers available in a repository after publication in a journal in which case there may be an embargo period to allow the journal to charge subscribers and cover costs. This is known as green open access. Different people do use slightly varying definitions of green and gold open access with some people considering that all gold open access has to be paid for.
What issues do you need to think about?
Firstly you need to consider your funder’s requirements. RCUK and Wellcome are both starting to require open access publication and other programmes such as Horizon2020 are likely to do the same. Sherpa Juliet gives information on funding policies and Sherpa Fact can help you to work out if the journal you would like to publish in complies with your funder’s policy.
If you are going to pay to publish your article you need to consider how you will finance this. The university has a block grant to support RCUK funded research administered by ISS. An application form for this and more information is on our research web page. If you want to use the green open access route and archive your article in a repository you will need to check Sherpa Romeo to see if the publisher allows that.
Open access publications often use a creative commons licence to make it clear and explicit to the end user what they can do with a publication. In the case of RCUK and Wellcome funded research they insist on a CC-BY license – the most liberal kind. At present some publishers do not comply with this so it is possible that either the requirement will be amended or that publishers’ attitudes will change or there will be a mix of both. We are living in an interesting experimental period!
Open access publishing is still in a fairly experimental stage and can be confusing. You are welcome to contact your subject librarian for advice on what options are available to you.
posted by Susan