Publishing research by one of two models of open access challenges traditional models of scholarly communication.
The main principle of open access is that research is free at the point of access.

There is no single way to engage in open access. Open access can be achieved by depositing research in an open access repository such as the University of Bolton Institutional Repository (UBIR) or by publishing in either an open access journal (such as those listed by the Directory of Open Access Journals – DOAJ) or paying for the article to be made open access in a more ‘traditional’ publication of the sort that is usually accessed by either personal or institutional subscription. To pay for an article to be made open access is known as either an Article Processing Charge or an Author Pays Charge (APC). The former is a more accurate description. This is known as gold open access, and is the preferred method of open access as described by the Finch Report of 2012. Depositing in a repository such as UBIR is known as green open access.


Institutional Repositories And UBIR: the green route

An institutional repository aims to capture, store and preserve the intellectual output of a university and make it available for free on the Internet. This typically includes journal articles, conference proceedings, book chapters and reports, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Copyright restrictions can mean that it is not possible to include the publisher’s version of a piece of research. However, many, many publishers will allow the archiving of non-publisher formatted versions of research (known as the pre-print in some cases) in repositories. In all cases, the repository includes the bibliographic details of the research so readers are able to establish the publication in which the research has been published.

Depositing work in an institutional repository does not preclude making research available via more traditional routes. Rather, it provides an additional means of enabling access to research and, moreover, increases the discoverability of the research, as repositories are indexed by search engines such as Google and Google Scholar.

The University of Bolton’s Institutional Repository is called UBIR and is available here. UBIR accepts all intellectual output of the university and includes selected PhD theses as well as journal articles, book chapters, conference proceedings, poster presentations, photographs and reports. There are comprehensive FAQs on how to deposit your work and deal with any copyright queries available here.

The Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) lists repositories all over the world and provides links to them.


Open Access Publications: the gold route

Open access has gathered pace over the past decade following the signing of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) in 2002. The BOAI declared that the only barrier to accessing academic research should be technical barriers to using the Internet itself, and that anyone with an interest in academic research should be able to access it freely.

To engage in open access publishing means either depositing research in a repository such as UBIR (green open access) or having research published in an open access journal, or paying a fee to have an article made open access, i.e. freely available to all (gold open access). Engaging in open access ensures that that research that has been produced from public money is as widely disseminated as possible. The Finch Report of 2012 recommended that gold open access be the route of engagement of choice and there have been many developments in this area.

There are a number of concerns with open access, all of which are valid. However, these concerns are easily addressed and should not be considered as barriers to open access. These concerns have been expressed by Peter Suber, who is a world authority on open access:

  • The only way to provide open access to peer reviewed journals is to publish in open access journals.
    • Not true: Research can also be deposited in repositories, and indeed if the payment of APCs proves difficult to support, then this is a perfectly valid way to engage in open access.
  • All or most open access journals charge publication fees.
    • Not true: Many journals do not charge for open access.
  • Most author-side fees are paid by the authors themselves.
    • Not true: Less than one quarter of fees paid in 2013 were met by the author.
  • Publishing in a conventional journal closes the door on making the same work open access.
    • Not true: Open access is an alternative, not a replacement.
  • Open access journals are intrinsically low in quality.
    • Not true: Many open access journals have increasingly high impact factors.
  • Open access mandates infringe academic freedom.
    • Not true: HEFCE demands that anything to be included in the next REF must also be open access: there is no choice! However there is a choice as to how this is achieved, and authors are of course free to select the most appropriate publications for their research.

Peter Suber has written at length on issues surrounding open access since 2002 and how it has developed since the publication of the Finch Report in 2012. The full article is available here.


Getting Involved With Open Access

If you are a member of academic staff at the University of Bolton and wish to deposit your work in the repository, then please get in touch with the UBIR on