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Open Access research publications

An exploration of Open Access academic publishing

Open Access publishing has developed since publication outputs have been available electronically.  It refers to the ability to access research freely via the web.

There are 2 common routes to Open Access:
The ‘green’ route is to self-publish via an institutional or subject repository.

A survey in November 2011 by the SHERPA project (supported by University of Nottingham Centre for Research Communications) found that 60% of  journals allow the final peer-reviewed version of an article to be archived immediately, with a further 27% permitting the submitted version (pre-print) to be archived immediately.

The benefit of the green route is that researchers can still publish via their preferred journals, but can make a version available via a repository which means the research is available to individuals, and academics in the developing world, and will comply with research funders requirements for Open Access.

UEA has a digital repository which was started by the library, and is populated via the Research Enterprise Office (REN). 

The ‘gold’ route is to publish in an Open Access journal, for which the author generally pays a fee upfront, the Article Processing Charge (APC).

There is a misconception that OA journals may not have the same rigorous editorial review process as subscription journals.  However, PLOS for example have the same peer review as other journals, and PLOS ONE in particular has achieved a prestigious reputation for its publications.

Increasingly also ‘traditional’ publishers are producing Open Access journals – For example Wiley, Springer, Nature.  Lund university provides an online directory that lists OA journals, only including quality-controlled research papers.

Much of the Open Access focus has been on journals, and has somewhat excluded Humanities, and to a lesser extent, Social Sciences.  However there is increasing discussion on how to change this.  For example, the Phd2Published blog contains advice about writing for publication, and has a collection of posts about Open Access.

Reasons to adopt open access:
  • Much research is publically-funded, with the peer review process also carried out by academics at no cost to the publisher.  It is therefore appropriate that it should be made publically accessible to other researchers for example in the developing world who may not have access to the subscription material
  • Many research funders now allocate funds on the understanding that the research output will be made available via open access.
  • Collaboration with other parties such as business or charities can result if research is more openly available on the web
  • There are wider cost savings identified in a report of 2012
  • UK government is anticipating a move to Open Access - see Finch report and further discussion of Finch

There are a number of Scoop.it pages that collect web posts about Open Access.  See:

Open Access in the Humanities
Open is mightier
Open Access news


Other links

Mike Taylor Bristol University has written a couple of useful blogposts on OA and green/gold
Peter Suber who is a longtime academic supporter of Open Access has recently published an explanatory text An introductory chapter is available via OA

UEA Faculty Librarians can provide advice on copyright and Rachel Henderson research support librarian is happy to discuss any issues around Open Access that you may have.

There are some useful links here for those who wish to know more.

Information last revised August 2013
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