What is Open Access?
Open Access is the free and unrestricted online access to the outputs of publically-funded research. To be open access, all users should be able to:
- Read published research papers in an electronic format
- Search for and re-use the content of published research papers
JISC have produced a video about Open Access
There are two main routes to making a research paper open access: green and gold. These routes have been the subject of much debate.
Green open access is where an author publishes their research paper and also deposits the paper for free in an open access repository such as Stirling’s own repository - STORRE. Often the journal will stipulate restrictions on the use of the open access version, such as an embargo period or the format of the article. All papers deposited in STORRE take account of publisher embargo periods.
Gold open access (also known as author-pays-publishing) is where the researcher (or more commonly their institution) pays an Article Processing Charge (APC) to the publisher for their paper to be made immediately publically accessible by the publisher on the journal’s website.
Why is Open Access important?
Publishing open access has a number of important benefits for you as a researcher and potential impact of your research. Articles which are made open access are more accessible to a wider audience and avoid the cost barrier for those without subscription access to journals. The associated benefits are:
- The potential for increased citations for your published works
- Enhancing the profile of your research
- Funders see a greater return on their investment
The benefits of increasing accessibility of the outputs of research will extend to long-term economic and societal benefits and therefore the Government and funders of research are driving reforms in this arena.
The benefits of open access publishing are evidenced in a range of publications, including:
Swan, A (2010) The Open Access citation advantage: Studies and results to date.
Piwowar, H.A., Day, R. S., Fridsma, D. B. (2007) Sharing Detailed Research data Is Associated with Increased Citation Rate. PLoS ONE 2)3): e308
Lawrence, S. (2001) Online or invisible? Nature, 411 (6837), p. 521
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), pp. 39-47
Inspirational video by Michael Neilsen on Open Science
How can I make my outputs open access?
Stirling has been a pioneer of open access publishing and since 2007 and we encourage our authors to deposit all research papers in Stirling’s institutional repository – STORRE. Depositing your article in STORRE means that you are making your publication available open access via the green route. Journals will normally have an embargo period for placing an article in a repository – this will be managed automatically by STORRE ensuring the paper you deposit will only be made publically available once the publisher’s criteria have been met.
For further detail about depositing your article in STORRE see the STORRE webpages.
The gold route is offered by two main journal types:
Open Access journals - Some journals such as BioMed Central and PLoS ONE are purely open access journals and never charge the reader to access an article. Instead, charge the author an article processing charge (APC) to publish in the article.
Hybrid journals – journals which use the subscription model (articles are only available following payment or subscription by the reader) but also offer authors the option of paying an APC so that their publication is made available immediate and without a fee to readers via the publisher. These journals continue to charge subscription costs to universities. These journals allow publication via the green and gold routes.
We are committed to enabling open access publishing. Previously gold open access publishing has only been supported through Biomed Central. We are currently revising our policy on resource for article processing charges in order to support ambitious academic publishing in a way which is equitable, compliant with new funder and publisher terms and conditions as well as being affordable.
Choosing your journal - be aware of predatory journals
There is a useful checklist provided by Butler, D. (2013) Investigating journals: the dark side of publishing. Nature. 495 (7442) doi:10.1038/495433a that we have provided here:
Buyer beware: A checklist to identify reputable publishers
How to perform due diligence before submitting to a journal or publisher:
- Check that the publisher provides full, verifiable contact information, including address, on the journal site. Be cautious of those that provide only web contact forms.
- Check that a journal's editorial board lists recognized experts with full affiliations. Contact some of them and ask about their experience with the journal or publisher.
- Check that the journal prominently displays its policy for author fees.
- Be wary of e-mail invitations to submit to journals or to become editorial board members.
- Read some of the journal's published articles and assess their quality. Contact past authors to ask about their experience.
- Check that a journal's peer-review process is clearly described and try to confirm that a claimed impact factor is correct.
- Find out whether the journal is a member of an industry association that vets its members, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (www.doaj.org) or the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (www.oaspa.org).
- Use common sense, as you would when shopping online: if something looks fishy, proceed with caution.
If you are approached by a journal and aren’t sure if they are reputable, please contact the Library and Archives Research Support team.
What to check if you are invited onto the board of an Open Access journal you've never heard of
This checklist is taken from Peter Suber’s website. Peter is Director at Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication.
"I'd start by checking to see whether [Journal] is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), which tries to include all honest, peer-reviewed OA journals and exclude the dishonest ones.
I'd also check to see whether [Publisher] belongs to the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), which excludes publishers who do not live up to its code of ethics.
Some honest, high-quality OA journals are not yet listed in the DOAJ, and some honest, high-quality OA publishers do not yet belong to OASPA. But we should encourage them to do so. If your investigation of [Journal and Publisher] doesn't turn up evidence you trust one way or another, then follow the rule to avoid journals that aren't listed in the DOAJ and avoid publishers who aren't members of OASPA. Don't hesitate to tell them that this is your criterion. (For example, "I'll join your board once [Journal] is listed in the DOAJ and [Publisher] joins OASPA.") That will give them an incentive to join, and live up to DOAJ-OASPA standards.
I'd also consult the criteria at Think-Check-Submit, the reviews at JournalReviewer, and Quality Open Access Market.
Since this is a journal in your field, look at the names of people on the editorial board. Do you recognize and respect them? Above all, read some of the journal's articles, and network with trusted colleagues to do the same. Are the articles good, by your standards? Would you be proud or embarrassed to be associated with them?"