What is Open Access?

Open Access is free and unrestricted online access to the outputs of publicly-funded research. In general a user must be able to do the following free of any publisher-imposed access charge:

  • Read the published research paper in an electronic format.
  • Search for and re-use the content of published papers provided re-use is subject to proper attribution.

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.

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What are the benefits of making my research Open Access?

There is strong evidence that making your research paper available on Open Access:

  • increases the number of citations for your paper
  • enhances the visibility of your research as well as your research profile
  • provides the public with access to publicly-funded research outputs
  • allows researchers who work in universities in developing countries who cannot afford a journal subscription to access, share and advance research
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How does Open Access affect me?

UKRI/RCUK issued a policy on 1 April 2013 which requires research papers arising from all UKRI-funded research to be made Open Access. Major funders such as the Wellcome Trust already operate such policies. Research England introduced an Open Access Policy on 1 April 2016 that will apply to the 2021 REF. The University has its own Lancaster University Open Access Policy. Therefore all researchers, including postgraduates researchers (PGRs) and early career researchers, are affected by Open Access developments.

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How do I make research papers Open Access?

Lancaster University Open Access Policy asks for research papers to be made Open Access.  There are two ways to do this:

Green route

Where possible, or if a journal does not offer a gold route, a researcher can deposit the Author Accepted Manuscript of his/her paper in Lancaster University's PURE Research Information System and/or a relevant subject repository within the time deadlines set out in the funder policy.

Gold pay-to-publish route

This usually involves the researcher paying the journal publisher a fee (commonly known as an Article Processing Charge). On payment of the APC, the publisher then provides free online access to the article via the publisher's website.

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Where should I publish Open Access?

Check the Directory of Open Access Journals - it aims to be comprehensive and cover all open access scientific and scholarly journals that use a quality control system to guarantee the content.

How can you be sure you can trust a particular journal?  Follow  the checklist at thinkchecksubmit.org to make sure you choose trusted journals for your research.

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What types of research outputs are affected?

Both the UKRI/RCUK and Research England policies applies to 'research papers' which are defined as articles published in peer-reviewed academic journals or published conference proceedings, and don't currently apply to books, monographs or other forms of research outputs (although extra credit can be gained for the 2021 REF by depositing other outputs). Wellcome Trust policy refers to journal articles, monographs and book chapters.

Research papers funded by UKRI/RCUK must include a statement on how the underlying research materials can be accessed. Research Data may have different requirements - see further details.

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What are the main points of the UKRI/RCUK policy?

  • The policy applies to all research papers whose work was fully or partially funded by UKRI/RCUK (past, current and future grants) being submitted for publication from 1 April 2013
  • All publications must be available on Open Access within six months of the publication date with the exception of AHRC and ESRC funded papers which initially have a 12 month period in which to be made available
  • Open Access can be through the Gold route or through researcher deposit in an institutional repository and a subject repository (known as the Green route) 
  • If choosing the Gold route the selected publisher must support the Creative Commons 'Attribution' licence - CC BY - which allows unrestricted use of manual and automated text and data mining tools, as well as unrestricted re-use of content with proper attribution. This is to maximise exposure to the research findings.  If choosing the Green route you can apply a CC BY or CC BY-NC licence (see details of Creative Commons licences).
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How is the Gold Open Access route funded?

UKRI/RCUK issues a block grant to research organisations to help meet the cost of Open Access via the Gold pay-to-publish route (for papers submitted 1 April 2013 onwards). From this date it will no longer be possible for individual grant applications to UKRI to request funding for pay-to-publish Article Processing Fees (APCs).

For further queries about funding please contact openaccess@lancaster.ac.uk

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Does the UKRI policy apply to all research councils equally?

Yes, with the exception of the longer deadline applicable to AHRC and ESRC funded papers for deposit in a repository and with the understanding that individual Research Councils may also have additional specific requirements governing Open Access. For instance, the MRC and ESRC require deposit in specific subject repositories, such as UKPMC and the ESRC Research Catalogue.

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I have to make my paper Open Access but my preferred journal doesn't offer a Gold Open Access route. What do I do?

You will need to deposit metadata of your publication into Lancaster's PURE Research Information System as soon as it is accepted (by adding a publication to PURE using the templates provided you are automatically adding metadata that describes the journal or conference paper).  You will need to upload your Author Accepted Manuscript (the version that includes all changes resulting from peer review) within 3 months of being accepted by your publisher.  Few publishers will allow the published version, including journal formatting, layout and logos, to be deposited in a repository. Therefore, make sure you retain your own Author Accepted Manuscript of your paper.

If your preferred journal does not allow either paid Open Access or deposit in an appropriate repository within the stipulated deadline you will need to reconsider where to publish or try to negotiate more lenient licence terms with the publisher (this does sometimes work). 

SHERPA/RoMEO hosts information about publishers’ Open Access policies and SHERPA/FACT combines these policies with funder requirements - you can use these tools to check the position of your chosen journal.

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I’m currently working at Lancaster University although my grant was allocated to another institution. Can I still apply for OA funding?

If your research is funded by UKRI/RCUK then we will consider allocating funding to you.  Please email openaccess@lancaster.ac.uk 

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My grant was originally allocated to Lancaster University but I’ve moved on to another institution. Will Lancaster University pay my Article Processing Charges?

We would normally expect your current institution to use their UKRI OA funding to pay for your current research (Lancaster University does so for academics moving to Lancaster University).

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I'm not currently funded by UKRI/RCUK. Does this apply to me?

Research England introduced an Open Access policy on 1 April 2016 that applies to all researchers wanting to submit to the post-2014 REF.  Lancaster University also has a Lancaster University Open Access Policy (implemented 1 May 2015).

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What about my research data? Does that have to be made Open Access too?

There is a growing movement for making the underlying materials behind research open for sharing and re-use. Lancaster University has its own Research Data Management Policy.  Individual Research Councils have specific policies (see EPSRC) governing the preservation, sharing and re-use of research data. Read the full guidance to Research Data Management.

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What about additional publication charges (e.g. page charges and colour plates?)

If you are UKRI/RCUK funded the payment of colour charges and page charges may also be taken from the block grant at the Library's discretion. The UKRI/RCUK OA block grant is intended principally to support the payment of Article Processing Charges.   Section 3.4ii of UKRI policy on Open Access and Supporting Guidance.

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What about other funders?

Many other funders are moving towards a default Open Access policy. Wellcome TrustArthritis Research CampaignBritish Heart FoundationCancer Research UK, Department of Health/National Institute for Health ResearchNational Institutes of Health and the European Research Council all require research funded by them to be placed on Open Access. Make sure you check the terms of your grant.

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What support and guidance will be available to me?

The decision about where to publish is an academic one and Heads of Department and Associate Deans will continue to advise individuals and research teams over appropriate research publication strategies. The Library will also be working closely with Departments and the Research Support Office to develop information, advice and guidance to help academic decision-making.

For individual advice contact openaccess@lancaster.ac.uk

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Contacts and further information

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