Guide to Open Access for Allied Health Professionals
A brief guide to Open Access for Allied Health Professionals and Paramedics. Version 1.0
What is Open Access?
Open Access describes an approach to publishing that allows free access to published literature over the Internet. In practical terms where you see a journal article identified as Open Access you should be able to click through and view the published full text without being asked for payment or a User Name and Password. The following defines what the term Open Access should mean ...
"By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.” (Budapest Open Access Initiative 2001)
Green and Gold routes to Open Access
The way that Open Access is provided depends on choices made by author(s) and the organisations that fund their research. There are two models for creating Open Access to published research. These are called the Gold Route and the Green Route.
The Gold route describes a situation where the author or a third party pays the publisher an article processing charge [APC] to cover the cost of peer reviewing and publishing an article, which is then made available free of charge to everyone.
The Green route, also called self archiving, describes a situation where the publisher agrees to allow a version of the article (pre-print or post-print) to be made available on the author's web page or through the institutional repository of the place where they work. Typically this would be a university or research institution. The publisher still publishes the article in a paid for/subscription based journal to recover their cost. For more information on publishers policies towards the Green Route/self archiving visit the SHERPARoMEO website.
A brief history of Open Access
The Open Access movement has a history starting in the 1960’s. More information can be found here:
- Timeline of the Open Access Movement (1966 - 2009) - An extensive timeline of the Open Access movement from 1966 - 2009 created by Peter Suber
- History of the Open Access Movement as part of the Wikipedia on Open Access
Key milestones in the recent history of Open Access are the Budapest Open Access initiative [BOAI] - 2002 the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing - 2003 and the Berlin Declaration 2003. The The Budapest and Berlin statements continue to invite individuals and organisations to sign up to the principles of Open Access. The Bethesda and Berlin declarations both define Open Access and describe a mechanism, self archiving in a repository or Green Route, by which Open Access can be achieved. Click on the links to read the full text of each deceleration.
Is this important?
Open Access is promoted as a new publishing model that has the potential to reform a journal publishing industry which is seen as slow, expensive and a barrier to free and fast dissemination of knowledge. The UK Government has recently accepted the recommendations of the Finch Group report (Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings) to adopt a the Gold Route, the payment of article processing costs (APCs) for Open Access to government funded research. Research Councils UK have also adopted an Open Access policy following the recommendations of the Finch Working Group. Discussions around Open Access have also surfaced in the national media. Anyone conducting or considering funded research will be required to plan Open Access outputs. Researchers working independently may consider Open Access publication as a viable alternative to conventional publication in a paid for/subscription journal.
Publishers and Open Access
Not for profit publishers and Open Access
Open Access has a campaigning dimension with organisations, who are also publishers, seeking to promote Open Access as an alternative to conventional paid for/subscription publishing. The Public Library of Science [PLoS] is a not-for-profit Open Access publisher that campaigns for Open Access as well as publishing peer reviewed journals in science including Medicine [PLoS Medicine]. Recently the Welcome Trust in collaboration with Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society announced the launch of a new science journal eLife to compete with established pay for view science journals.
Commercial pay for view publishers and Open Access
Commercial pay for view publishers can adopt two strategies to facilitate Open Access publishing using the Gold Route. Creating new Open Access publications or a hybrid approach publishing Open Access articles within paid for/subscription based journals. These strategies are not exclusive, publishers do adopt both. They can also allow a Green Route for Open Access to journal articles in paid for journals. Examples of new Open Access publications from established pay for view publishers includes:
New commercial publishers and Open Access
The new business model has attracted new publishers into the journals market. Most notable is Biomed Central a pioneering commercial Open Access publisher, part of the Springer publishing group. Smaller publishers have used the Gold Route to rapidly expand their publishing operations, for example Dove Medical Press. A selective list of Open Access publishers and their policies/strategies is maintained by the University of California Berkeley Library. Another useful list is Beales List of Predatory Open Access Publishers, publishers whose credibility and business practice are questionable or criminal and should be avoided.
Peer Review and the Gold Route
Peer review applies tests of quality, style and methodological rigour. Traditional printed journals would apply an additional test of significant contribution to the subject/discipline. Print publications sought to make the best use of the limited space provided by the print format, typically rejecting 70% or more of submitted articles. Open Access publication have no space constraints. They publish all articles that meet the normal criteria of peer review (quality, style and methodological rigour) without applying the significant contribution to the literature test. In addition publishers may offer an Open Access route to submissions which are rejected from other journal titles they publish as an alternative publishing option, provided they pass the peer review criteria for Open Access journals.
Directories and Lists
The DOAJ Directory of Open Access Journals lists scholarly/peer reviewed Open Access Journals. DOAJ also has an article search to search for individual articles within journals.
HighWire Free Online Full Text Articles - lists free access to full text from HighWire Press.
Institutional and Subject Repositories and Open Access
What are institutional repositories?
Institutional repositories are large databases of publications produced by researchers and staff working within one organisation, typically a University. The original motivation for creating institutional repositories was to provide a Green Route for Open Access publishing. Repositories were also created by communities of scholars for their Subjects, for example Physics or Social Sciences. Software to create and manage repositories is available free for organisations to use (EPrints and Dspace).
The motivation has changed over time. Universities and research organisations now need to maintain accurate records of research outputs for research evaluation purposes. They use repositories as a marketing tool to showcase their research and integrate publication information into websites. Many universities now require (mandate) researchers to deposit copies of their research with the university/institutional repository.
Repository Search Engines
You can search repositories using a number of specialised search engines. BASE and OAIster have an international coverage including the UK. IRS searches UK institutional and subject repositories. SHERPA Search offers UK and a global search.
- BASE - Bielefeld Academic Search Engine
- Institutional Repository Search (IRS) - UK Institutional and Subject Repositories
- OAIster - Global Repository search
- SHERPA Search - Separate Searches for SHERPA Repositories; UK Repositories and OpenDOAR Global Repository Search. OpenDOAR is a Directory of Open Access Repositories.
Subject Repositories aim to provide an Open Access route for research in a specific area. There are notable successes in the biomedical and life sciences where there are three significant Open Access repositories supported by leading science and medical research organisations. These repositories work with publishers and researchers provide a single point of access to the Open Access literature. They are PubMED Central, UK PubMED to be rebranded as European PubMED and PubMED Canada. Other subjects disciplines also maintain Subject Repositories.
What does it mean for me?
If you are a researcher looking for journal articles you may choose to access Open Access material in preference to locating copies of paid for material via your library or paying a fee to the publisher. There is an argument that Open Access increases the use of research because it is freely available. A counter argument would be that researchers should choose the material that is relevant, however, they obtain it. The truth is probably that researchers make judgements on a number of criteria including immediate access to the full text.
You may also choose to search for only Open Access material. Searching in institutional/subject repositories you are more likely to find Open Access material. Some search engines offer an Open Access filter. Librarians would advise searching for all available resources and making the decision on what to access in full text on the basis of relevance to your research.
If you are an author you can consider publishing in an Open Access journal. If your research is paid for by the government or by a research council or body it may be a requirement of your grant that you publish your research in an Open Access form. In either case there will be a cost of between 1000 - 3000 GBP to be paid to the publisher. Normally this would have been costed into a grant application, individual authors may have to secure additional funding to pay publication fees.
Institutional Repository - electronic archive of documents, research papers and other types of publications originated by academics / students / researchers belonging to one organisation, typically a University.
Mandate - requirment to make published research available in a repository. Typically academics are mandated by their host university to place copies of research in the univerities Institutional Repository.
Paid for/subscription based journal - traditional journal publishing business model where a fee/subscription is paid to receive printed copies of journal issues or to have online access.
Peer Review - review of articles submitted for publication by subject experts. Papers will either be rejected, accepted with modifications or accepted for publication.
Post-print - a version of a journal article that has received peer review but has not yet been put in the final published layout.
Pre-print - a version of the article before peer review.
Repository - electronic archive of documents, research papers and other types of publications.
Open Access Implementation Group - UK Higher Education
Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
Open Access Directory
Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook
SPARC Open Access Newsletter