Research Spotlight: Open Access Week

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This week is Open Access Week, a global event to help the research community learn about the benefits of Open Access (OA), to encourage collaboration towards OA initiatives, and to promote the OA movement to the research community and the public. If you are unsure what OA is, or how it can benefit your research, read on.

The Open Access movement is a global initiative with the aim of making all research that is conducted at publicly funded institutions, such as universities, free to everyone. It also allows for the reuse of data and results as needed. This has the potential to improve collaboration and increase the veracity of research through the confirmation, or refutation, of results by other independent researchers. Research can then be published online and made immediately available to the public for free.

Open access publishing

There are two types of Open Access publishing. The first is the ‘Gold’ model where the research is published in a journal that allows free access to some, or all, of the articles within it. This model is broken down into three different types of journals. Traditional OA journals usually contain all OA content. To remain viable they fund their activities through non-traditional means, such as advertising, membership fees, author fees, or subsidies from institutions such as governments or universities. Hybrid OA journals have a mix of OA and paid for articles, where the OA status for an article is paid for by the author or university. Delayed OA journals are the last type. This is where the article is behind a paywall for a period (called an embargo period), which can vary from a few months to two or more years, and once the period ends the article is then free for everyone to access.

The other model is the Green, or Self-Archiving, OA model. This is where the author publishes their work in a journal which allows for a pre-published version of the article to appear in an institutional repository, a subject or discipline specific repository, or on the author’s personal website.

Impact on research

What does OA mean for your research? It is generally accepted that publishing in an OA journal usually leads to greater visibility, exposure, usage and impact for your research. It will expand the readership of your article beyond the subscribers to journals in your field. It can result in greater citation counts. OA also has a tremendous benefit to the wider community. It allows people who would not normally have access to academic journals (because they are behind a paywall) to read the latest research on a topic, without having to rely on the media to report on findings.

Some academics are hesitant to publish in OA journals because of a perceived lack of quality, or because of scepticism about the rigour of the peer-review processes in OA journals. However, the reputation of OA journals has been increasing as the movement gains momentum. One example is the journal PLOS ONE, which has gained a wide readership and a significant reputation in the sciences. Many experts in their fields contribute to and support OA journals. In many cases, the author can choose to pay a fee to publish OA in a ‘top’ journal in their field. Finally, OA journals can only succeed if we, as a research community, support them.

Predatory publishing

One downside of OA publishing is that it opens the door to wrongdoing in the form of predatory publishing. Predatory publishers pretend to be legitimate OA publisher and will request an author fee in exchange for ‘publishing’ your article. These scams are not legitimate journals and do not have an editorial process. If you are sceptical or unsure about the quality of a particular journal, you can check whether the journal is legitimate by searching for it in Ulrich’s Global Serials Directory (if it has a referee shirt next to it then it is peer reviewed). If you are looking for a genuine OA journal in which to publish your research you can use the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) to find a suitable journal.

Learn more

If you would like to learn more about OA or would like to sign-up for OA Week then please visit the Open Access Week website.

If you have any further questions about Open Access Week and would like to talk to a librarian please feel free to contact the senior client services librarian for your faculty:

Arts and Education
Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences

Happy publishing!