Open Access: a summary for open access week

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

One thought on “Open Access: a summary for open access week

  1. On Adopting an Optimal OA Policy

    BOAI10 Recommendations (2012) Ten years on from the Budapest Open Access Initiative: setting the default to open

    Gargouri, Y & Harnad, S (2013) Ten-year Analysis of University of Minho Green OA Self-Archiving Mandate. In, Rodrigues, Eloy, Swan, Alma and Baptista, Ana Alice (eds.) Ten-year Anniversary of University of Minho RepositóriUM.

    Gargouri, Y, Lariviere, V, Gingras, Y, Carr, L and Harnad, S (2012a) Green and Gold Open Access Percentages and Growth, by Discipline. In: 17th International Conference on Science and Technology Indicators (STI), 5-8 September, 2012, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Montréal.

    Gargouri, Y, Lariviere, V, Gingras, Y, Brody, T, Carr, L and Harnad, S (2012b) Testing the Finch Hypothesis on Green OA Mandate Ineffectiveness. In Open Access Week 2012

    Gargouri, Y., Hajjem, C., Lariviere, V., Gingras, Y., Brody, T., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2010) Self-Selected or Mandated, Open Access Increases Citation Impact for Higher Quality Research. PLOS ONE 5 (10) e13636

    Gentil-Beccot, A., Mele, S., & Brooks, T. C. (2010). Citing and reading behaviours in high-energy physics. Scientometrics 84(2), 345-355.

    Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. and Gingras, Y. (2005) Ten-Year Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How it Increases Research Citation Impact. IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin 28(4) 39-47.

    Harnad, S. (1995) A Subversive Proposal. In: Ann Okerson & James O’Donnell (Eds.) Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads; A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing. Washington, DC., Association of Research Libraries, June 1995.

    Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

    Harnad, S. & Brody, T. (2004) Comparing the Impact of Open Access (OA) vs. Non-OA Articles in the Same Journals, D-Lib Magazine 10 (6)

    Hitchcock, S. (2013) The effect of open access and downloads (‘hits’) on citation impact: a bibliography of studies

    Houghton, J. & Swan, A. (2013) Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest: Comments and Clarifications on “Going for Gold”. D-Lib Magazine 19 (1/2).

    Rentier, B., & Thirion, P. (2011). The Liège ORBi model: Mandatory policy without rights retention but linked to assessment processes.

    Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2012) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

    Suber, P. (2012) Open Access. MIT Press.

    Comments on Other OA Policies:

    Harnad, S. (2004a) Memorandum to UK To UK Government Science and Technology Select Committee Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

    Harnad, S. (2004b) For Whom the Gate Tolls? Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

    Harnad, S. (2007). No Need for Canadian PubMed Central: CIHR Should Mandate IR Deposit.

    Harnad, S. (2011) What Is To Be Done About Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications Resulting From Federally Funded Research? (Response to US OSTP RFI).

    Harnad, S. (2011) Comments on Open Access FAQ of German Alliance of Scientific Organisations (Allianz der deutschen Wissenschaftsorganisationen).

    Harnad, S (2012) Digital Research: How and Why the RCUK Open Access Policy Needs to Be Revised. Digital Research 2012.

    Harnad, S. (2013). Harnad Response to HEFCE REF OA Policy Consultation. HEFCE.

    Harnad, S. (2013). Harnad Comments on HEFCE/REF Open Access Mandate Proposal. Open access and submissions to the REF post-2014

    Harnad, S. (2013) Harnad Evidence to House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee on Open Access. House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on Open Access, Winter Issue, 119-123.

    Harnad, S. (2013) Harnad Evidence to BIS Select Committee Inquiry on Open Access. Written Evidence to BIS Select Committee Inquiry on Open Access, Winter Issue

    Harnad, S. (2013). Follow-Up Comments for BIS Select Committee on Open Access. UK Parliament Publications and Records.

    Harnad, Stevan (2013) Recommandation au ministre québécois de l’enseignement supérieur.

    Multiple Comments on CIHR Open Access Policy

    Multiple Comments on SSHRC Open Access Policy

    Multiple Comments on OA Progress in Canada

    Multiple Comments on NIH Public Access Policy

    Multiple Comments on Harvard Open Access Policy

    Multiple Comments on France/HAL Open Access Policy

    Comments on H. Varmus’s 1999 E-biomed Proposal [1] [2]

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