Making a paper open access serves no purpose if that paper is not findable by its potential readers. These may be other academics, students or interested public.
In recent years there’s been an increase in open access discovery tools to help readers quickly locate the full text of an article which is paywalled. Most of these tools have pros and cons; none of them fully index the full spread of legally available open access papers in institutional and subject repositories. Some of these will link with the library’s subscriptions to give access to the full text, as well as any freely available copies on the web. Check our library’s access using iFind’s “Articles & more” search tab (see below).
How can a researcher find full text for a paper they need to read? This quick overview assumes a search for a specific known paper (not a general search on a topic):
- Google Scholar: this is the academic search engine version of Google. It is excellent for turning up open versions of papers and usually displays a link straight to the paper on the right. However, institutional repositories are not always well indexed by Google Scholar so it can miss free content. You can link Google Scholar to the library’s subscriptions; it also has its own browser button.
- Unpaywall: an open access discovery service that is being integrated into many databases and sites. You can also use their browser extension to get a colour-coded padlock with (hopefully) direct access to a PDF. Our repository – Cronfa – is not yet indexed by Unpaywall so its coverage is good but not comprehensive. Unpaywall also has the facility to bulk-check a list of DOIs which may be useful.
- Open Access button: another open access discovery service which also has its own browser extension. Cronfa IS indexed by open access button but, again, its coverage will not be complete.
- Kopernio: another browser plugin to help find OA content.
- The university library iFind service does include some open access content but coverage of free material is not as good as some of the above. However, it does provide authoritative access to the university’s subscription content which will give the publisher version of a paper after logging in (IF we have a subscription to that journal).
- Google is not an academic search engine but many use it for discovery. Open access papers are often indexed by Google and including the search command “filetype:pdf” can help to locate full text. You can also include quotes around the title to make your search more precise.
If you do a lot of literature searching it is definitely worth installing one of the browser extensions to find an open version of a paper but it is also worth remembering that, if one is not available, a focused Google search may still turn up a copy in a repository that has not yet been indexed by these services.
Comments welcomed if you use any of these tools!
A group of 11 European funders, including UKRI, have put open access back in the news. They propose a radical plan from 2020 where:
- Papers must be free to read on publication
- They must have a liberal licence which allows others to reuse, translate or download the work.
- Papers should not be published in hybrid journals which take subscriptions as well as article processing charges
- Green open access would be allowed but with no embargo period
- Funders will cap the amount they will pay for article processing charges.
- Authors should keep their copyright with no restrictions
Publishers have obviously hit out at the plans as unworkable. Time will tell…
We have a brief guide to the basics of making papers open access to make sure you comply with the university and REF Open Access policies, now available in Welsh and English:
Hanfodion Mynediad Agored
Open Access Essentials
Excellent open access news – Springer now allow self-archiving of book chapters to make them open access via the (free) “green” route. Their updated policy is here: https://www.springer.com/gp/open-access/authors-rights/self-archiving-policy/2124
Any Swansea Uni author who has published a book chapter with Springer can now upload the accepted version of a chapter into RIS and make it open access on Cronfa once the embargo has passed. Embargo length depends on the type of book and is either 12 or 24 months.
Springer were one of the few major publishers who did not allow green open access at all for book chapter so it is good to see a positive change that will encourage more open access book chapters! We have just updated our summary post on making book chapters open access to reflect this change.
Book chapters are not covered by the current REF Open Access policy but our university open access policy states “wherever possible researchers will be expected to make all published research outputs available as Green Open Access”. SU authors are welcome to contact email@example.com for guidance and support with making their work open access on RIS/Cronfa.
Notes from a recent JISC event looking at where we are with open access.
The Budapest initiative in 2002 described open access as a public good which “will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge”
Are we getting close? A JISC survey of UK universities found that around 80% of outputs comply with REF policy on average. The open access aggregator CORE hosts 11 million full texts and links to over 78 million more. The overwhelming majority of researchers claim to be in favour of open access though policy still seems to be the main driver. Monitoring the transition to open access / Universities UK 2017 looks at the number of UK papers freely available.
The REF is not the only body to require open access – many funders now have policies. JISC recently produced a report Monitoring sector progress towards compliance with open access policies 2018. UKRI and Wellcome are both reviewing their open access policies at the moment.
A JISC survey found that systems for open access still largely manual and labour intensive. Some institutions are only concentrating on publications for the REF rather than making a cultural shift to open access, partly because this is the most efficient way to use scarce resources. So, although significant progress has been made, we still have some way to go to fully embrace open access.
Open access monographs
HEFCE previously announced that the next REF (2027) will require open access monographs. Consultancy work is going on to look at the challenges, barriers etc. and the effect this may have on academic publishing. Universities UK have produced their own report on the state of open access book publishing at the moment. Amongst the findings it says that the move towards open access books is a global trend and that new university presses are starting to spring up in the UK which could add to open access options available.
Post by Caroline Rauter
Research Council Open Access (OA) block grant 2018-19
Swansea University continues to benefit from the UKRI (formerly RCUK) block grant to pay publisher Article Processing Charges (APCs). The funding, which applies to all published outputs resulting from funding by the Research Councils, has been extended to run until March 2020. We are now in year six of the RCUK Open Access (OA) policy.
Swansea University operates the block grant on a first come, first served approach.
UKRI (RCUK) OA compliance targets 2018-19
The Research Councils’ OA FAQs stipulate that their preference… “is for unrestricted open access (Gold)”, but they support a mixed approach for going “gold” or using “green” self-archiving in a repository:
- As an RCUK funded researcher you are obliged to make 100% of your research outputs open access and you should ensure that all relevant acknowledgements are included.
- Swansea University reported an overall compliance rate of 5% in April 2018 (using both the green and gold routes).
We are required to improve the Swansea University open access compliance rate in 2019.
Licences compliant with the UKRI (RCUK) OA policy
i) Gold route (immediate open access) using a Creative Commons CC-BY licence.
ii) Green route (deposit of the final accepted manuscript in RIS & Cronfa, usually with an embargo)
- Of note is the requirement that the publisher copyright licence places no restriction on non-commercial reuse, including non-commercial text and data-mining. The licence should allow for the sharing of adaptations of the material. This means a CC-BY-NC-NDlicence is not
- This brings authors into conflict with the funder policy when publishing using the green route in, for example, an Elsevier hybrid journal. You should apply for financial support using the gold route if this is applicable for your chosen journal.
- Where publishers offer a gold route, but the researcher chooses green, papers should be published in a journal with a maximum embargo of 6 months for STEM funded disciplines, or 12months in the arts, humanities and social sciences funded research. Research papers in biomedicine should be published with an embargo of no longer than six months.
iii) Open Government Licence (OGL) – Crown Body employees only, e.g. Welsh Government.
In support of sustainable and affordable OA options we encourage authors to consider publishing in:
- Reputable, fully OA journals found in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
- Journals where the publishers are transitioning hybrid (subscription) to OA, for example: American Chemical Society, Cambridge University Press, IEEE, IOP, Oxford University Press, Sage, Springer, Taylor & Francis and Wiley.
We currently have institutional open access discount deals with MDPI, Sage, Springer and Wiley.
Contact us: Openaccess@swansea.ac.uk T: (0)1792 604567
Research England (formerly HEFCE) has announced the release of a new report: “Monitoring sector progress towards compliance with funder open access policies” (PDF). This reports the results from a UK-wide survey conducted in late 2017 looking at how universities are managing compliance with the REF, UKRI (formerly RCUK) & other funder open access policies.
The widely-reported headline finding has been “Over 80% of research outputs meet requirements of REF 2021 open access policy” but Cambridge University’s Danny Kingsley has written in response on their “Unlocking Research” blog: “Compliance is not the whole story” picking up a key point made in the report, that “the increased open access to research is resulting from considerable effort on the part of researchers, libraries, research offices”.
Read the report here (3 page Executive Summary available!)
Helen Snaith’s blog post for Research England: “REFlecting on progress towards open access”
David Sweeney for WONKHE: “Open Access – are we almost there for REF?”
Danny Kingsley’s response “Compliance is not the whole story”.