What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) is all about sharing research freely and openly. Lancaster University is committed to ensuring that the outputs of our research are made readily available to anyone who would benefit from them.

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.

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.

The Benefits of Open Access

Recently published evidence demonstrates that Open Access (OA) increases the number of citations articles receive by enhancing the visibility of research. In general, the benefits of Open Access fall into four major categories:

  • It maximises the use of public funds to benefit the wider economy and society. When research is held behind a publisher’s paywall, this restricts access to only those who can afford it. Anyone can benefit from wider access to research, from small businesses to schools.
  • It accelerates research (publish, read, cite, build upon), increases impact and attracts funding. A number of studies have demonstrated that making research OA increases the number of times it is cited. Additionally, OA research may speed up the research lifecycle – it is quicker to get research noticed and it can make collaborating and sharing easier.
  • It is widely considered to be an ethical practice, giving the author control of copyright, as well as improving the quality of research through open, transparent and reproducible research practices.
  • Open Access Research complies with research funder policies(see our Open Access Policies page).

Below is a useful overview of the benefits of Open Access. CC-BY Danny Kingsley & Sarah Brown.

A diagram describing the benefits of Open Access. The benefits are described as follows: More exposure of your work, Practitioners can apply your findings, Higher citation rates, Your research can influence policy, The public can access your findings, Compliant with grant rules, Taxpayers get value for money, Researchers in developing countries get to see your work.