OA Week Day 2: Busting open access myths: how to make your research open
In this blogpost, we tackle some myths that are often raised in discussions about open access and let you know about resources available to you to make your research open
Myth One: Open Access is something new
Open access to research publications is often discussed as if it is something new. After all, scholarly publishing as it exists today is based on a four hundred year old template of scholarly journals, which has grown into a multi-million dollar industry. But open access publishing has actually been around for 30 years, emerging as a movement in the computer science field in the early 1990s.
It has become one of the most important trends in scholarly publishing, as evidenced by the blanket use of open access to share research on Covid-19 to help the global response to the pandemic.
Myth Two: Open Access means giving up your copyright
When you write a research publication, you are normally automatically the copyright holder in the work, alongside any other authors. There may be exceptions if you produce the work under a contract that specifies your employer as copyright holder. When you publish open access, you still retain copyright (unless you assign copyright to your publisher), but will usually licence the work with a set of permissions for your audience. This might include permission to read and share the publication, to create derivative works from the publication such as translations, or even the right to resell the publication for commercial purposes.
Licences can be bespoke, but more often people and publishers use template licences from schemes like Creative Commons. Creative Commons is internationally recognised, and easy to use, as it asks you what features you want in your licence before presenting you with your preferred option, and can be applied to a range of different outputs. However, Creative Commons doesn’t recommend using their licences for software, so try the Open Source Initiative instead.
Myth Three: Open Access is unaffordable
To be fair, gold open access for the published version of research can be expensive. Some publishers ask authors to pay an article processing charge or book publishing charge to make a publication open access, and can ask for anything between £50 and £9,500 for articles, and somewhere around £11,000 to make a book open access. However, there is support available to make publications available at no cost to the author.
The University APC fund is available to researchers funded by UKRI, Wellcome Trust or NIHR grants. The fund is limited, so applications to the fund need to meet specific criteria.
The University Library has secured deals with a number of publishers that mean University of Wolverhampton authors can have their research articles published at no cost. In 2022 to date, over £40,000 of charges for 14 articles by UoW authors have been subsidised through these deals. Conditions for using the deals differ based on the publisher so please see our gold open access page for details.
Where there is no funding source for gold open access, if the publisher has a green open access policy (sometimes called a self-archiving policy) for repositories, University of Wolverhampton authors can deposit their publications in WIRE. Please note that publishers often specify which version of the publication should be archived, so it’s likely you will need to provide us with something other than the published version.
Also, check if your preferred publisher operates waivers or discounts for open access fees.
Myth Four: Open Access is about compliance
Many funders, and most famously the Research Excellence Framework, mandate open access for research publications. While this may be how many researchers first encounter it, open access delivers a range of benefits to authors, the research community and the general public, and the mandates are used to encourage researchers to embrace these benefits. Some benefits of open access to the author are:
- Citation advantage – studies show that material shared as open access enjoy greater citation than material that is behind a paywall. Recent research has also shown that research cited by UK government policy documents are more likely to be open access. Remember to use any citation metrics responsibly, though.
- Greater opportunities for collaboration – if your research is open access, more people can read it and therefore there is a greater chance that someone will invite you to be part of a new research project.
- Greater impact – impact of research can be useful when making grant proposals or seeking career progression. Open research is more likely to be read and reused, allowing you to show societal impacts as well as academic ones.
Myth Five: My research is only of interest to me, so it doesn’t need to be open access
Never underestimate the reach of your research. You may think that your research is of niche interest, but if you start to share it openly, you may discover that there are other people out there with different ideas of how to build on or reuse your research.
With a larger audience, the potential for higher impact and more diverse responses is possible.
If you have any queries about open access, or the services offered above, please contact the Scholarly Communications Team.
Stuart Bentley, Scholarly Communications Librarian
For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.