What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) is all about sharing research freely and openly.

The fundamental principle underlying OA is that research funded by the public should be freely available to the public.  For the typical researcher this means that a copy of a research paper should be placed online upon acceptance with no restrictions on who can access, view or download it. In this way OA bypasses current obstacles to access such as the prohibitive cost of journal subscriptions, coupled with restrictive licences, that exclude most people from viewing research.

Open Access as a movement has been around for at least a decade.   Support has grown significantly in the UK over the last few years for the following reasons:

1. HEFCE has introduced an OA Policy for the post-2014 REF.  The policy applies to outputs accepted for publication after 1 April 2016 but Lancaster University is applying the policy's principles from 1 May 2015 to ensure that correct procedures are in place.  The main points of the policy are:

  • it is compulsory to make all research outputs accepted for publication Open Access in an institutional or subject repository within 3 months of acceptance.  This applies to journal articles and conference proceedings, but other outputs are encouraged.  The output deposited must be the author's accepted and final peer reviewed text (which may otherwise be known as the 'author accepted manuscript' or 'final author version' or 'post-print') and this could be supplemented by the final published version of record at a later date (if the publisher allows it, but the Library can check this)
  • outputs should be in a readable format so that they can be searched and re-used
  • outputs should apply a Creative Commons licence  - CC BY or CC BY-NC if the publisher allows

Read FAQs relating to the policy.

2. Government-driven policy on widening access to research - a response to the Finch Report

3. OA as a principle has been taken up by many of the major research funders, including the Research Councils (RCUK) and The Wellcome Trust. All Research Councils now require that research funded by them is made Open Access.

Lancaster University has embraced the Open Access movement and implemented its own Lancaster University Open Access Policy on 1 May 2015.  An Open Access Checklist summarises the key points of the policy.  Listen to Lancaster Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark E. Smith's podcast on the strategic implications of Open Access for Lancaster University, and the broader impact on the higher education sector. The policy and checklist can be found in the sidebar on each Open Access page.

There are two main routes to Open Access: Green and Gold.  Please see How Do I...  for further information.

If you have any further queries on Open Access, please contact openaccess@lancaster.ac.uk