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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

The university's Open Access Repository is called Minerva Access.Minerva Access Logo

The repository holds 37,000 research outputs produced by staff and students, comprising theses, journal articles, books and book chapters, reports, conference papers, music and musical scores, photos, video, and more. All research classified higher degree students are required to deposit a copy of their thesis directly into Minerva Access.

Staff deposit their work to Minerva Access via the university's Publications Management System, Minerva Elements.

In addition to the repository, the university provides some support for payment of article processing charges (APCs) for a select number of publications. Details of these discounts can be found in the section of this Libguide, Sharing Your Work - Gold Open Access.

Open Access for Researchers

Staff at the University of Melbourne can upload their research outputs to Minerva Access via the university's publications management system, Minerva Elements. All research output types are welcome and the repository supports over 20 different file types.

A two minute video illustrating this process can be found on the Open Access & Research Visibility page on the Research Gateway. After you upload your file to Minerva Elements, the repository team will check publisher permissions to ensure that the correct version has been uploaded and will then apply a publisher embargo if required. If you have any questions, or would like assistance depositing your work, please get in touch with the Minerva Access Team.

All outputs stemming from eligible ARC and NHMRC funded research must be deposited into Minerva Access within three months of publication. Further information about these policies is available in the ARC and NHMRC Open Access Policies section of this guide.

Open Access for Graduate Researchers

Research Higher Degree (RhD) students are required to deposit a copy of their thesis into Minerva Access. Detailed information about the thesis deposit policy can be found on the My Thesis in the Library page. The library also holds regular seminars covering the deposit process and choosing to make your thesis OA, 'Public Access and your Thesis' (bookings can be made via the Graduate Research Hub). Students with coursework degree theses or other projects may also deposit their work with support from their supervisor. Unlike staff, students deposit their work directly into Minerva Access. Detailed information regarding the Minerva Access platform can be found on the FAQ page.

But... should I make my thesis Open Access?

Deciding whether to make your thesis Open Access can prove a challenging decision. Whilst there are many well-documented advantages, many students hold concerns particularly around the possibility of this jeopardising future opportunities to publish from the thesis. The following paragraphs address some of these benefits and concerns.

What are the advantages of making my thesis Open Access?

Making your thesis OA in the university's repository, Minerva Access, results in it being indexed in Google, Google Scholar, the National Library of Australia's Trove database, and other discovery tools. This means that your thesis can be discovered and read easily by students, researchers, policy-makers, practitioners and others all over the world.

In 2017, the release of Stephen Hawking's thesis, 'Properties of expanding universes', in the University of Cambridge repository caused a global media sensation, crashing the university's website. Hawking's thesis has been downloaded close to one million times since its release. It also has an Altmetric score of 2212 (as of July 2019). Altmetrics measure the volume of online discussion surrounding research outputs, assessing the volume of tweets, Wikipedia cites, blogs and news outlets.

You don't, however, need to be a household name to have your work accessed and read by others. Currently the most popular item in the University of Melbourne repository, Minerva Access, is a thesis by former Masters of Education student, Michael Wanyama, 'The challenges of teaching physical education'. Michael's thesis has been downloaded more than 60,000 times by readers in countries including Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, United States and Australia. The availability of his thesis means his research has reached and influenced the thinking of many individual researchers and practitioners around the world.

The OA thesis as 'prior publication'?

Some publishers clearly state that an Open Access thesis is not viewed as prior publication by their stable of journals (see, for example, this statement from Elsevier and this statement from Nature). Yet many do not have a published statement as clear as Elsevier's to provide reassurance. A 2017 survey conducted by the author of this guide with editors of publications on the Financial Times 50 Journal List found that none of these publications would preclude publishing a journal article stemming from a thesis. It should also be noted, however, that a small number expressed some expectations accompanying this position, including:

  • That a journal would not simply re-publish a thesis verbatim--it must be re-worked to suit the house style and audience of the journal
  • That upon submission, the author should inform the publisher that their submission is based on a thesis
  • That it would be ideal for the thesis to be hidden from view during the blind peer-review process
  • That the thesis record in the repository be linked to the published work stemming from it

A more recent survey with book publishers found similar low levels of concern regarding OA theses. These results suggest that publishing opportunities are rarely denied simply because a thesis is available to the public. If you are concerned, the best policy is to contact the publisher or editor and ask them for advice. Library staff are available to assist you with this process. Please contact minerva-access@unimelb.edu.au if you would like help, or have any questions or concerns in this area.

When should I be concerned about making my thesis open?

Whilst concerns surrounding 'prior publication' appear to be overstated, there are situations where you should consider embargoing your thesis, redacting content, or placing material unsuited to open access in a closed appendix. These scenarios typically involve politically sensitive material, material to be patented, or third party copyright material. To learn more about these options, please see the My Thesis in the Library page, or book into one of the 'Public Access and Your Thesis' sessions which are run quarterly and explore these options in depth. Bookings can be made via the Graduate Research Hub.