Open Access (OA)1 refers to both a movement and a model of publishing scholarly work. The movement, which was formalised in 2001 but can be traced to the 1960s, advocates the “free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship, as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.”2 Central to the model of OA are OA journals and OA repositories. Repositories are typically subject-based or, more commonly, institutional. Advocates of OA have argued that by maximising access, research visibility, usage, uptake, impact and progress are also maximised. The growth of OA journals and repositories within the academic community, reflects the growing recognition of the institutional benefits, the benefits to individual authors and the benefits to society as a whole of Open Access.
For the university, a repository has the potential to increase the institution’s visibility and prestige by making public the research output of its staff and students. It can act as a marketing tool, effectively creating a ‘shop window’ to the achievements of the institution, enticing staff, students and further funding. Repository software is widely interoperable, so that content can easily be made available for searching by Google and other aggregated repository services as well as by other information management services within the University. It can also collect unpublished materials, such as conference papers and theses as well as learning and teaching materials and record the relevant Intellectual Property Rights for all content deposited. As has already been demonstrated at the University of Lincoln, repository software can be a useful tool in managing an institution’s RAE submission and the RCUK recognise the increasing role repositories play in the research communication process with seven of the eight research councils having open access policies for their funded research outputs.3 Recently, the HEFC have stated that from 2010, the use of ‘metrics’ will be gradually introduced, measuring the citation behaviour (i.e. ‘research impact’) of an institution’s research output. Metrics from downloads of research papers and citation analysis are both key value added services which repositories can provide.4
Journal publishers are generally supportive of researchers who wish to deposit5 a version of their article in an IR, with around 70% allowing some form of self-archiving and nearly 60% allowing ‘post-print’ 6 archiving without embargo. 7 When archived in this way, citation analysis has shown that papers deposited in an OA repository benefit from between a 25%-250% increase in citations compared to non-OA articles8 and, significantly, the effort required from a researcher to deposit an article in a repository is minimal.9 The academic publishing environment is clearly now working in favour of researchers depositing their work in OA repositories and when surveyed, 81% of UK academics said they would be happy to self-archive their research in an IR, with a further 13% saying they would do so reluctantly. Only 6% said they would never do so.10 Furthermore, researchers benefit by having a permanent place of deposit for their published work and underlying research data, which can be referenced even if they change institutions. The repository can also be used to generate publication lists to be displayed on their departmental or personal websites and allows the author to monitor the citation impact of their own work.
In addition to institutions and the authors of research benefiting from the use of Open Access journals and repositories, the wider community of scholars and general public clearly benefit, too. An increase in a work being cited also means that the user of that research is likewise benefiting from research being made available via an OA repository – research they otherwise may not have had access to. Even the richest of Universities cannot afford to subscribe to every journal available and it is no surprise that librarians are some of the most vocal and most active OA advocates. Outside the academic community, the general public (who fund most research through their taxes) benefit from the increased speed that research is made available and able to cross-fertilise disciplines and affect a wider community. 11 In recognition of this, the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee have published a Recommendation to Mandate Institutional Self-Archiving, stating that “all UK higher education institutions establish institutional repositories on which their published output can be stored and from which it can be read, free of charge, online.” The report also recommends that “Research Councils and other Government funders mandate their funded researchers to deposit a copy of all their articles in this way.”
The University of Lincoln maintains both an Open Access journal publishing system and an Institutional Repository. Staff are encouraged to use the Institutional Repository to deposit12 a version of their work and contribute to the development of NEO and OWPS, both student-focused publications. For more information and assistance, please contact CERD.
- More information about Open Access and how it relates to you can be found by reading JISC’s Open Access Briefing Paper [↩]
- OA definition [↩]
- See also the JISC report, Opening up Access to Research Results. Also, the SHERPA JULIET Project is a database for research funders’ open access policies. [↩]
- See Richardson, J. (2007) Usage Metrics for Open Access Repositories. See also Smith, Dr Andy T and Eysenck, Prof Michael (2002) The correlation between RAE ratings and citation counts in psychology. [Departmental Technical Report] (Unpublished). “We counted the citations received in one year (1998) by each staff member in each of 38 university psychology departments in the United Kingdom. We then averaged these counts across individuals within each department and correlated the averages with the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) grades awarded to the same departments in 1996 and 2001. The correlations were extremely high (up to +0.91). This suggests that whatever the merits and demerits of the RAE process and citation counting as methods of evaluating research quality, the two approaches measure broadly the same thing.” [↩]
- See the presentation by Alma Swan for information on why researchers choose to deposit their work and a general introduction to the impact of OA. [↩]
- ‘Post-print’ refers to the version of the paper after peer-review. ‘Pre-print’ being the version before peer-review. [↩]
- The SHERPA RoMEO Project maintains a database of publisher copyright policies with regards to self-archving. http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo.php. [↩]
- Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. and Gingras, Y. (2005) Ten-Year Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How it Increases Research Citation Impact. [↩]
- The median time for metadata entry is 5 minutes and 37 seconds per paper. See Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2005) Keystroke Economy: A Study of the Time and Effort Involved in Self-Archiving. [↩]
- Swan, A. and Brown, S. (2004) Authors and open access publishing. Learned Publishing, 17 (3). pp. 219-224. See also, Swan, A. and Brown, S. (2005) Open access self-archiving: An author study. [↩]
- See Eysenbach G. The Open Access Advantage, J Med Internet Res 2006;8(2):e8. [↩]
- A help sheet is available here. [↩]