Information for Researchers
Open Access repositories have revolutionised access to research materials. This is because open access materials can be freely accessed by anyone in the world using an internet connection. Depositing work in an institutional repository is regarded as a way of maximising the readership of articles and for authors to have control of the way their research is disseminated.
The potential readership of Open Access articles is far greater than that for articles where the full-text is restricted to only journal subscribers. Therefore, Open Access benefits both the research community as a whole and the individual researcher. Increased readership, use of research and citations to articles help to advance researchers' careers and boost their grant support. Evidence shows that making research material Open Access increases citations to the article - in some fields by 300%. Studies have shown that the citation rate of open access increases compared with non-open access materials, because research results become more easily available to the research community.
Open Access does not affect peer-review; articles are peer-reviewed and published in journals in the normal way. There is no suggestion that authors should use repositories instead of journals. Open Access repositories supplement and do not replace journals.
Furthermore, a number of research funders now have rules in place which make deposit in an open access repository a requirement of any grant. Other funders make a strong recommendation for deposit, or may make additional funds available for publication in an open access journal, or in one of the hybrid journals set up by some publishers. If your institution does not yet have a repository, then there are a small number of subject-based repositories elsewhere in the world which might be able to hold your material. SHERPA runs a service called OpenDOAR which lists repositories world-wide. Use OpenDOAR to see if your institution or subject-discipline has a repository you can use.
There may be other repositories too: the UK is setting up a "keepsafe" repository to hold open access material for those authors whose institutions do not have a repository. This material will then be transferred to the institution when their repository becomes live. The situation is different in different countries. DRIVER is working towards a coordinated network of repositories across Europe.
In order to make materials open access through archiving in repositories, the author simply deposits a copy of the final peer-reviewed text into a repository Depositing material is quick and easy: it should take under 10 minutes, although like any process it may take longer the first time. Some publishers allow the author to deposit the published pdf copy of the article. Others only allow the author's final manuscript to be archived.
Authors need to be aware of any copyright restrictions imposed by the publisher as a condition of acceptance for publication in a journal. Copyright restrictions may affect whether you can archive your article, photocopy it or use it in your teaching etc. The majority of publishers allow archiving, but there are differences between publishers. These are laid out in the publishing contract that an author signs when submitting the work. The RoMEO service can be searched by journal title and lists and analyses publishers' standard terms and conditions as they apply to archiving.
If your institution has a repository then you simply continue to publish as normal in a subscription-based journal but also (after checking any publishers' restrictions on your re-use of your article) place a copy of your article online, on your institution's institutional repository.
A list of repositories supported by institutions or by subject disciplines can be found in OpenDOAR.
Another way to make your work Open Access is to publish in one of the growing numbers of Open Access journals. See the JISC-SURF 'Partnering on Copyright' pages on OA Journals for information. These offer a level of peer-review and copy-editing comparable with a traditional fee-based journal and are listed in a dedicated directory - Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
Depositing materials in a repository is preferable than simply mounting the article on the author's or departmental web pages. The work is more likely to be stored and managed more effectively in the longer term if it is put into a repository, as well as be more easily searchable and retrievable.
Some funders have mandates for authors to deposit their articles as a condition of receiving funding. These requirements are intended to increase he readership re-use and dissemination of research outputs. There may be a specific repository that should be used, or other requirements. Use the JULIET service to see summaries of funders' requirements.
Where a publisher actually prohibits archiving it might be possible to negotiate for an exception. SHERPA has produced a simple template to open negotiations. JISC and SURF have developed an alternate publishing agreement that they are suggesting authors may wish to use and see if their publishers will accept this. It may even be possible to amend the copyright agreement proposed by your publisher.
This negotiation can secure a fair degree of control over your rights, which in turn leads to exercising more control over how your work is accessed and, ultimately, used. Many authors still do not appreciate that signing over the copyright to their work can then stop them redistributing it locally, or using it in alternative research environments.
In order to retain your essential rights, you are encouraged to:
- Read any agreement carefully before signing
- Talk to the publisher if their agreement seems restrictive - it is possible to negotiate an exception
- Amend the copyright agreement you sign
- Support journals with liberal copyright agreements
- Question the publisher on its policy, if you are a journal editor or member of an editorial board
An institutional repository is a digital collection of research articles, theses and teaching materials, produced by members of an institution, and preserved with a stable URL on the institution's server. Institutional repositories allow for free access to these materials and also provide a way of storing and preserving them.
Electronic versions of research material (article, book chapter etc), or eprints, are deposited into a database (repository). These repositories are mainly administered by research institutions. This has the advantage of allowing local support of users and use of the institutional infrastructure of web services and technical support. These institutional repositories share records about their content with service providers, who then offer search services to users across every record that they hold. This means that a researcher using a search service is searching across all repositories, not just individual ones. This allows global search with local support. Once the researcher finds a record, then they can view the full-text direct from the institutional repository. As well as services which just search repositories, the full-text is also searched by Google, Yahoo and others.
A subject-based repository is a freely available digital collection of research materials of a particular discipline, or related disciplines, which is stored on a centralised server. It can be searched in the same way as other repositories through a central service provider, although some of the larger ones, like arXiv for physics and PubMed Central for biomedical material, have dedicated search interfaces of their own. The advantage of using general OA search services like BASE, is that these will pick up, for example, physics papers that are not held in arXiv or medical papers that are not held in PubMed Central - as well as material from these archives.
Open Access Journals operate on a different business model to traditional subscription based journals. Instead of costs being covered by charging subscriptions, costs are charged for publication and then the material can be given away for free. Peer-review process follows traditional management patterns and is unaffected.
Since Open Access journals make their articles available for free through charging for the publication services before publication, rather than after publication through subscriptions, payment has to be given as part of the publication process. Open Access publication charges can be often included within the costs of research funding. Although some commentators have dubbed Open Access publishing "authors-pays", there is no suggestion that authors themselves actually pay. This means that the money for publication comes from research funding, rather than from the library budget through subscriptions. In most cases, the root of the money is the same - public funding - but it is hoped that there will be overall savings, through efficiencies in the system and transparency of costing the publication process.
There are a growing number of Open Access Journals, with a journal available in most disciplines. A list of the ones currently available is provided by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
The OA Journal model is a challenge to, and possible replacement for, traditional business models. By contrast, OA Repositories sit to one side of the commercial publishing process and can work with either OA Journals or traditional subscription journals.
Last updated: 14-Nov-2008