Spotlight on… Open access


I feel as if 2015 has got off to a somewhat negative start as regards this blog as I seem to have had to flag up numerous incidences of resource access problems. This does not a happy Electronic Resources Librarian make. So I thought I would maybe provide you all with something more interesting with less “this isn’t working now” which seems to have 2015’s theme so far.

Readers of this blog will know that I have two ‘hats’ here at Bolton, so just for a moment, I will do a swap and have a think about open access, which is very much the key to the University of Bolton Institutional Repository (UBIR). If you’ve walked through the Library, you might spot that the “Spotlight on…” poster concerns open access, detailing the two ways in which authors can engage in open access and the main benefits of open access. There is another, crucial, element to open access that I’ll come to later.

The first question, of course, is “What is open access”. Briefly, the main principle of open access, is that research is free at the point of access. In other words, the only barrier to that research should be technical barriers of accessing the Internet itself. It means that research should not be ‘hidden’ behind access controlled subscriptions, and anyone, anywhere, should be able to access that research. There are two main ways to engage in open access: deposit research in an open access repository such as UBIR, or publish research in open access publications, such as those listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. The former is known as the green route to open access; the latter as the gold route. Here at Bolton, open access is being achieved mainly by the green route.

Both forms of engagement in open access have advantages and disadvantages. The green route relies on having access to a repository, and we are very fortunate at the University of Bolton that this is the case: UBIR accepts all intellectual output of the University of Bolton, from journal articles to book chapters to conference proceedings and post presentations. The gold route, although considered by many to be the future of the open access movement, is more complex, and brings with it concepts that can seem quite alien to anyone who is comfortable with the traditional modes of scholarly communication. The gold route requires authors to submit their work as open access publications, and can often involve the payment of what is known as an APC (Author Pays Charge, or Article Processing Charge). Where that payment comes from can be a cause for concern, and the whole concept of open access publications has led to a lot of debate within academic communities. A number of very specific concerns have been raised, such as concerns over the quality of the publication and the possibility of ‘fake’ publications taking APCs either not publishing the research or publishing it alongside research that is incorrect or ethically questionable. Some are concerned that open access effectively closes the door on traditional modes of scholarly communication, and quality of published research may be affected. All valid concerns, but ones that it is usually possible to allay.

I mentioned earlier that there one very crucial element to open access which means that this method of making research available is not going to go away. You may or may not be aware that HEFCE have made it policy that any research accepted for publication after 1 April 2016 must be made open access if it is to be considered for the next REF exercise. The policy is available in full here and states:

“To be eligible for submission to the post-2014 REF, authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository on acceptance for publication. Deposited material should be discoverable, and free to read and download, for anyone with an internet connection.

The requirement applies only to journal articles and conference proceedings with an International Standard Serial Number. It will not apply to monographs, book chapters, other long-form publications, working papers, creative or practice-based research outputs, or data. The policy applies to research outputs accepted for publication after 1 April 2016, but we would strongly urge institutions to implement it now.”

If you are in the position of considering submitting to the next REF, now is the time to be thinking about open access, and I’m happy to answer any queries you may have. Just drop the UBIR team a line.

If you want to learn more about open access, including open access at the University of Bolton, take a look at this presentation as well as this poster from the 2014 Research and Innovation Conference, held here at Bolton. Remember, if you want to deposit your work in UBIR, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the UBIR team.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: