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Open Access

This LibGuide introduces the basics of Open Access, including different pathways to making your work open, the benefits of OA, OA policies, OA at the University of Melbourne, and more...

Getting started

If you do not have the funds (or simply don't want to pay) an Article Processing Charge, you will still likely be able to share an earlier version of your work via the Green OA route. This section of the Libguide is designed to guide you through what can seem a challenging process and help you establish how you can share your work without breaching your publisher agreement.

Getting started

To work out what you can and can’t share, it is essential to consider the following:

What can I make OA?

Journal Articles

Generally you will be able to upload an accepted (or ‘post-print’) copy of your manuscript to a repository or personal website (this is the version which has been peer‐reviewed, but not yet had publisher logo, pagination, volume and issue number applied). Note that an embargo period will almost certainly apply before you are able to do this (typically between 12 and 24 months). 

If you are sharing your work on a Scholarly Collaboration Network (SCN) such as ResearchGate or Academia.edu, please be aware that some publishers, including Wiley and Elsevier, will only allow you to share the submitted (or ‘pre-print’) version of your work. 

Two useful online resources for checking what your publisher allows are: 

  • SHERPA/RoMEO covers over 5000 publishers and 22,000 journal titles and is the 'go to' place to check your publisher policy in the first instance. Type in your journal title or ISSN and a summary of your publisher policy will appear. See, for example, the entry for the publication Nature.
  • How can I share it? is a publisher-funded platform and covers only the largest publishers, but offers clear guidance on sharing via SCNs 

Your publisher’s website will also provide this information. See, for example, the advice provided by Elsevier here.

 
Books and Book Chapters

Many book publishers will allow you to upload one chapter from a book to a repository or personal website. With the exception of Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press (which, at the time of writing, allow the final published copy) an accepted copy is generally allowed. 

The best place to find information is on each publisher’s website (unfortunately there is no SHERPA/RoMEO equivalent for book permissions at this point in time). See, for example: Cambridge University Press, Emerald, Oxford University Press, Palgrave MacMillan, Springer, Taylor and Francis.

If you would like help obtaining details of, or interpreting, publisher policies, please get in touch with the Minerva Access Team for assistance:  minerva-access@unimelb.edu.au

 

Not happy with the above? Negotiate with your publisher

Perhaps, after reading the above, you feel you should be able to share your work more readily in whatever format, whenever, wherever you want! If this is the case, you could consider negotiating the Copyright Transfer Agreement or Standard Publishing Agreement provided by your publisher via the use of an author addendum. You may wish to create your addendum to reduce the standard embargo period, share a later version of your work, or apply one of the Creative Commons Licences to your work. SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), based in the United States, has put together an extensive guide to retaining your rights as an author which includes an author addendum template.

OA Repositories

If you are interested in depositing your work in a repository, there are a variety of options to choose from in addition to the university's institutional repository, Minerva Access. If you have received from funding from an international funding body, you may deposit your research into a funder repository. Alternatively, you may want to deposit in a disciplinary or subject-based repository to showcase your work alongside other publications in your field. Disciplinary repositories comprise some of the most popular and largest collections. For example, as of December 2018, arXiv, hosts almost 1.5 million research publications spanning the fields of Maths, Physics, Computer Science, Stats, Finance and Economics. In social sciences, the biggest disciplinary repository by far is SSRN, which hosts just over 800,000 research outputs at the time of writing. Below is a list of repositories you may be interested in checking out.

 
Australian repositories

Australian repositories include ACEReSearch, the home of all public research produced by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) under one umbrella; the Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO), which provides a collection of public policy documents produced in Australia and New Zealand; as well as a number of institution-based repositories, such as the CSIRO Research Publications Repository. Every university in Australia also has its own repository. At the University of Melbourne, our repository Minerva Access hosts over 37,000 research outputs produced by University of Melbourne staff and students. Collectively, these outputs have been downloaded almost six million times (as of July 2019). A list of other Australian university and institutional repositories can be found on the AOASG website.

 

Funding agency repositories

Increasingly, funding agencies are requiring that researchers make grant-funded research openly available to the public (you can learn more about the OA policies of Australian funding agencies under the ARC and NHMRC OA Policies section of this guide). As part of this trend, many funders are developing their own repositories to host this research. These include: Gates Open Research, Open Repository of the National Natural Science Foundation of China and Wellcome Open Research.

 
Subject/Discipline-based repositories

The list of subject-based repositories is far too numerous to mention in detail here, but in brief the major players in the Sciences include: arXiv.org (see above); bioRxiv, arXiv's cousin for researchers working in the life sciences; and ZENODO, a 'general purpose' repository originally designed as a funding agency repository for works funded by the European Commission, but which now welcomes deposits from all scientists.

If you are a researcher working in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, you may be interested in RePEc (Research Papers in Economics); PhilArchive, the largest open access e-print archive in philosophy; E-LIS, an international digital repository for Library and Information Science; and the Social Science Research Network (SSRN).

Scholarly Collaboration Networks

In addition to sharing your work in a repository, you may also be interested in engaging with a Scholarly Collaboration Network (SCN) platform. These are large repositories, which also have a social media component, enabling you to network with others in your field.

ResearchGate (RG) is one of the major players with 15 million academics signed up to the service. You can use RG to share your publications and access those of others. RG provides usage metrics detailing how many times and who has accessed your work. It also enables you to get in touch with other RG members directly to ask a question, put forward a collaboration idea, ask for feedback, or request copies of their work. RG also features additional services including a research-focused jobs board.

academia.edu is another SCN platform with similar features to RG. At the time of writing, the platform has over 72 million academics signed up with 21 million publications available and 33 million unique visitors to the site each month.

 

Should I join these platforms?

A survey conducted by Nature in 2014 with 3500 researchers found most academics tended not to engage with the social networking aspects of these platforms, but instead use these platforms more simply to set up a profile in case someone wants to contact them. This survey found that most researchers generally preferred other tools, notably Twitter, to interact with others online and comment on research.

It is important to note that these platforms are not regarded as 'Open Access' services. For example, the ARC and NHMRC do not regard academia.edu and ReseachGate as OA platforms and they cannot be used to comply with their OA Policies. Generally, it is necessary to sign up to these platforms to be able to access items deposited by researchers - fees may also apply. Both platforms are 'for-profit' services with large amounts of investor capital upon which returns are expected. In addition, a number of the large publishing houses view these platforms as hosts for 'illegal' content and a threat to their business model. Elsevier and the American Chemical Society, have commenced legal proceedings against ResearchGate and have a history of ordering the takedown of publications.

The above above advice should not necessarily deter you from engaging with these platforms, however it seems the value in these platforms may lie in having a 'profile presence', rather than in increasing accessibility to your work, preserving your work, or in connecting with others.