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Open Access publishing

What is Open Access publishing?

Open Access (OA) publishing aims to make research publications "free to read" for everyone. It has grown from a rising dissatisfaction with traditional academic publishing (e.g. the serials crisis) and the increasing ease of digital publication. There has been a steady growth in OA publishing over the last decade fuelled by government intervention and research funders requiring research publications to be made OA.

This growth has largely evolved around journal articles, whilst developments in making books OA has been slower. Change has been greater in those disciplines where journal articles are the dominant mode of scholarly communication. Commercial publishers are central to the OA landscape as they have successfully re-engineered traditional subscription titles as transitional (or transformative) journals. Subject repositories (such as arXiv) remain significant means of scholarly communication in some disciplines. The OA landscape is complex and emerging.

Why publish OA?

There are three key reasons to make your publications OA:

Increase the readership both beyond and within academia

  • These readers may be in the commercial sector, practitioners in education, healthcare or just interested lay readers.
  • Many researchers have reduced access to scholarly literature because subscriptions to scholarly literature are so expensive - this is especially the case in developing countries.
  • Removing the paywall from your research makes it available to readers who don't belong to academic institutions with subscriptions to scholarly literature.

Increase the dissemination of your publications

Studies have shown that making your publications OA will increase their dissemination and may increase the number of times they are cited, (see for example Kullman, 2014).

Comply with funder policies

Funders increasingly require research publications are made OA. Publications need to be OA for REF assessment exercises. UKRI Research Councils require stringent requirements on funded papers, non-compliance with funder policies may jeopardise future funding.

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