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Open Access

Introduction to open access publishing and a guide to finding open access resources

Publishing research

Your first step is to check the requirements of your research funding body.


The SHERPA websites provide up to date information about funders' Open Access policies.

Managing Research Data

To maintain research integrity, institutions and researchers must ensure research data is preserved so that results can be verified and the data reused in future.

OA Publishing terms

These are some terms used by publishers to look out for when planning to publish a paper through a repository:

Pre-prints: this is usually defined as the author's final draft of a paper before peer-review. Many publishers allow authors to place the pre-print in a repository.

Post-print: this is the version of the paper as published, following peer review. As author, you will probably have your own version of this final draft in the composition and editing format which you normally use (such as Microsoft Word.) Some publishers allow authors to place the post-print in a repository but some do not.

Publisher PDF: whilst allowing authors to place a post-print in a repository, some publishers do not permit the use of the formatted PDF file that appears in the journal. If this is the case, you are only allowed to deposit an earlier version of the paper. However, some publishers actually prefer the final PDF version to be used, as this is a clear indication that an article in a repository is the final version and may also promote their role in its publication.

Routes of Open Access publishing

Researchers publishing from April 2013 have two routes to Open Access.  They are:

·         Gold Open Access

·         Green Open Access

 Gold Open Access

The gold route achieves immediate online publication access via a publisher, usually for a fee called an Article Processing/Publishing Charge (APC) paid by an author or an institution on behalf of the author.

There are two types of Gold Open Access publishing:

1.       The publisher operates a subscription model for the journal but also offers Open Access options for individual articles (usually on payment of an APC)  This is usually known as a hybrid journal

2.       Fully Open Access (Gold only) Journal.  This means that the publisher does not use the subscription model and all articles are published on Open Access (usually requiring the payment of an APC).  The Journal provides via its own website immediate and unrestricted access to the publisher’s final version of the paper (the Version of Record), and allows immediate deposit of the Version of Record in other repositories without restrictions on re-use.

3.       To achieve OA compliance the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC-BY) must be used.  CC-BY allows others to reuse content of the paper providing the original author(s) is acknowledged.

Green Open Access

1.       Articles and papers are archived in a subject repository or an institutional repository e.g. Staffordshire University STORE.  Research articles in the repository are accessible to the public via a website.

2.       The version of the published research paper as accepted for publication in the chosen journal, including all changes resulting from peer review, but not necessarily incorporating the publisher’s formatting or layout, is archived and made accessible in an online repository. This is not a repository managed by the publisher.

3.       Some Research Councils e.g. Medical Research Council (MRC) have a requirement that papers are deposited in specific repositories such as Europe PubMed Central.

4.       The objective is to maximise access to research findings, but publishers are allowed to impose an embargo on Open Access for a period of up to 12 months.

5.       If a hybrid journal offers Gold Open Access, but the gold option is not chosen due to lack of funds (to pay an APC), then an embargo of 12 months for STM disciplines, and 24 months for HSS will be compliant with RCUK policy.

Article Processing/Publishing Charge (APC)

Authors going for Gold Open Access pay a charge (APC) to the publisher to contribute to the cost of publishing an OA journal. (From April 2013 the RCUK contributes to the payment of APCs for articles arising from grant-funded research through block grants to research organisations in receipt of substantial funding). 

Authors in organisations not in receipt of block grants may elect to make their research freely available and maximise exposure to their research by opting for the Green route to OA.

APC cost vary between publishers and journals, but typically the charge for a journal article is in the £500 - £2,500 range.

Open Access

Open Access (OA) in the higher education context offers unrestricted online access to peer reviewed scholarly research. Open Access is primarily intended for scholarly journal articles and papers, but is also provided for a growing number of theses, book chapters and scholarly monographs. Open Access (OA) means research literature can be freely accessed by anyone in the world via the Internet so that it can be used without licensing restrictions for research, teaching or other purposes.  The UK Government, in line with its overarching commitment to transparency and open data, is committed to ensuring that such research should be freely accessible.
Copyright holders control the right to permit open access and have the right to be properly acknowledged with full and proper attribution usually using a Creative Commons licence.  Usually the Attribution CC BY is recommended for maximum dissemination and re-use of material.

The Open Access movement has been growing for 10 years, with many organisations committing to achieving widespread OA including:

Open Access for authors

Some advantages of reaching a wider audience through Open Access publishing:

  • •Increased visibility of publications
  • •Research disseminated faster
  • •Increased citation and impact
  • •Compliance with funder & REF requirements
  • •Raised profile for author, funders and university
  • •Enhancing your reputation in the research community
  • •Attracting potential collaborators
  • •Sharing knowledge from publicly funded research