Glossary of Open Access terms

Open Access is an area rich in terminology.  Some of the most essential terms researchers need to be aware of are listed below. Terms in bold in a definition are elsewhere defined in the glossary.

Article Processing Charge (APC): a fee charged by the publisher to make an article openly available. This may be paid by the author, a funding body, or a research institution and there is no cost to the reader as a result.

Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM): also known as ‘postprint’. The final peer reviewed version of a manuscript which has been accepted for publication but not yet formatted to look like the finished output.  This is often the latest version to which an author owns the copyright and is often the earliest version that is acceptable to funders for open access requirements. It is usually permissible for deposit in repositories by publishers who allow green open access, possibly with an embargo period.

Book Processing Charge (BPC): a fee charged by the publisher to make a book openly available. This may be paid by the author, a funding body, or a research institution and there is no cost to the reader as a result.

Bronze Open Access: a less commonly used term, also known as ‘free access’. A publisher may make a research article freely available on the journal’s website at no cost to the reader but without the usual Creative Commons licence that guarantees the access in perpetuity and permits reuse. This access can be revoked at any time by the publisher. There is usually no cost to the author or reader.

Closed Deposit: where an output has been deposited to a repository under an initial embargo period and only the metadata of the article can be made publicly available until the embargo is lifted. The REF Open Access policy has allowed for closed deposits, provided the article itself is made available at the end of the embargo period.

Copyright: an intellectual property right which exists to protect the rights of the person(s) who created the work and ensure they receive appropriate recognition for their contribution. The copyright holder (owner) has the right to determine how a work is used, distributed, and adapted for a set period of time. Copyright is an automatic right that comes into force when a work (meeting certain criteria) is created. The University’s IP policy goes into more detail on copyright.

Corresponding Author: The person who handles the manuscript and correspondence during the publication process. They are also the point of contact for enquiries after the paper is published. Most often, the corresponding author is responsible for the payment of an APC. In most publishing agreements, the corresponding author’s institutional affiliation is used as an eligibility criteria.

Creative Commons (CC) Licences: a series of copyright licences which allow authors to licence their work for free reuse, with fewer restrictions than ‘all rights reserved’. A CC licence can be applied to the VoR or the AAM, depending on the publishing route. The CC BY licence is the most permissive and is generally preferred by Funders. It is also recommended by the University, except where exceptional considerations require a more restrictive licence. There is also an alternative Public Domain licence (CC0 – No rights reserved) which is often appropriate for research data sets. Read more on CC licences.

DataSTORRE: the University’s institutional research datasets repository. It was established as a preservation and access service for multi-disciplinary research datasets produced at the University.

Date of Acceptance: the date on which an editorial decision to accept a submitted manuscript for publication is made. Most publishers will make this date publicly available in the article metadata. Articles must be deposited in STORRE within 3 months of the Date of Acceptance to be eligible for REF.

Date of Publication: the earliest date that the VoR is made available on a publisher’s website. Generally, this means the ‘early online’ date rather than the print publication date, particularly in the context of REF and UKRI/funder requirements but determining this date is not always straightforward. Publishers should make this date publicly available in the article metadata.

Deposit: the act of making available a version of a manuscript in a repository for the purpose of discoverability, increased readership, and/or in order to meet Funder or institutional requirements. An embargo period may apply, per the publisher or journal’s article-sharing policy.

Diamond Open Access (via the publisher route): also known as ‘community-driven publishing’, ‘platinum open access’ or ‘sponsored open access/publishing’. Neither the author nor the reader pays to publish or access the Version of Record. The VoR is published under a licence that permits copying and reuse (most often a CC licence). The costs of publishing are met by one or more sponsoring organisations, which might include funding bodies, societies, or research institutions.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier): a unique and persistent digital identifier assigned to online journal articles, books, and other works. The DOI should be included with the output itself and be included in the output’s metadata. It is a long-lasting reference to an object and is designed to be used by humans and machines.

Embargo Period: The length of time authors must wait before they can make their work openly available. This is commonly imposed by publishers when authors are looking to make work available via green open access and may apply to different versions of the manuscript, including the AAM. Funders are increasingly refusing to permit embargo periods on funded outputs.

Green Open Access (the repository route): also known as ‘access through repository’.  An author will publish the Version of Record of a research paper behind a paywall but will also deposit a copy of the paper for free in a repository–such as Stirling’s own repository, STORRE. Often the journal will stipulate restrictions on the version which is made available in open access (e.g. AAM only) or the use of the open access version, such as an embargo period or the licence under which the repository copy can be made available. All papers deposited in STORRE take account of publisher embargo periods, where applicable.

Gold Open Access (a publisher route): also known as ‘author-pays-publishing’, ‘born-open content’, or ‘access through publisher’. An author (or more commonly their institution) pays an APC to the publisher for the Version of Record of their paper to be made publicly and openly accessible immediately on the journal’s website. A licence that permits copying and reuse (most often a CC licence) is applied to the article.

Hybrid journal: a journal which includes both paywalled and open access articles. The journal uses the subscription model by default (articles are available behind a paywall) but also offers authors the option of paying an APC so that the VoR is made publicly and openly available immediately on the journal’s website. These journals continue to charge subscription costs to individuals or institutions. These journals usually allow publication via the repository and publisher routes, at the author’s choice, though an embargo period may apply for the repository route.

Metadata: in the context of research outputs and repositories, relevant metadata normally describes the research output, including the type of output (e.g. conference paper, journal article, book chapter, etc.); the version (preprint, AAM, VoR); the Date of Publication; the publisher; the DOI; the access licences and copyright terms; the embargo end date, if applicable, etc.

Paywall: the barrier mechanism which keeps those who have not paid either a one-off fee or a subscription from reading research outputs.  Costs can range from hundreds of pounds for a subscription to £30 for single article access.  

Fully open access journal: some journals are fully open access and never charge the reader to access an article. In open access via the publisher route, two different models may apply: under the gold open access model, the publisher may charge the author an APC to publish in the journal and under the diamond open access model, neither the author nor the reader is charged any fee. Publishers may publish a mix of subscription, hybrid, and fully open access journals; there is an increasing number of fully open access only publishers.

Open Access: means online access without barriers to research outputs. These barriers might include cost barriers (subscriptions, licensing fees, pay-per-view fees) or permission barriers (copyright and licensing restrictions for reuse, registered user accounts).

Peer-review: a process for quality control for published research. Experts in a particular field are invited to assess the validity, quality and originality of a piece of work and its suitability for publication to protect against sub-standard, misleading or fraudulent outputs. Traditionally, peer review is a closed and anonymous process, but models of open peer review are emerging and aim to help make the process more transparent.

Preprint: This is the first accepted version of a manuscript, before peer review. It may or may not be published under a CC licence. Many journals accept the publishing of preprints prior to submission, but not all. It is important to verify a target journal’s policy. There are also preprint-specific repositories.

REF (Research Excellence Framework): the system for assessing the quality of research in UK Higher Education Institutions (HEI). It is administered by Research England on behalf of all four UK Higher Education funding bodies, including Scottish Funding Council. The next exercise is REF2029.

Research Article: a report that details the results of an author’s original research and contribute to a specific field(s) of research. They are produced in all disciplines and subject areas and are usually subject to peer-review.

Repository: An online database of research outputs, repositories may be subject or format specific, accept all types of content, or be for a specific institution, e.g., STORRE and DATASTORRE.

Rights Retention (Strategy and Statement): a strategy initially designed by cOAlition S to support researchers to publish in their journal of choice whilst remaining compliant with Plan S and funder requirements of immediate open access without embargo. The strategy enables authors to ‘retains rights’ in their submitted manuscript. A rights retention statement is included in both the submission’s cover letter and acknowledgements: ‘For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.’ An increasing number of institutions are adopting Research Publications policies based on rights retention. This may impact Stirling authors where they collaborate on publications with external co-authors and enables immediate open access deposit of an AAM where the VoR is not published in open access.

Self-archiving: the process by which an author deposits their research output into an online repository (institutional or other).

STORRE: the University’s institutional research outputs repository. It was established as a preservation and access service for the full text of the research outputs of University of Stirling authors. This includes the full text of Stirling research theses from 2006 onwards.  

Subscription journal: these journals impose a paywall barrier to articles on the journal’s website which requires a reader to pay a one-time fee to access an article or hold a subscription to the journal. In the scholarly context, most subscribers are libraries of scholarly or research institutions, who provide access to their students and researchers. These journals may allow open access via the repository route, most often with an embargo period.  

Transitional/Transformative Agreement (a publishing agreement): an agreement between a publisher and an institution(s) to encourage the transition of journals from hybrid to fully open access or to increase the open access output by an institution’s researchers.

Version of Record (VoR): Also known as the ‘final published version’. The final peer reviewed version of a manuscript which has been edited and typeset by the publisher and published in the journal or publishing platform Publishers often seek to be assigned copyright or exclusive permissions over this version.