5 Days of Open Education – Day 4: Open Access Publishing

Activity Time Required (approx)
Blog post  10 minutes (incl. 8.24 min video)
Activity  10 minutes

Open access (OA) publishing has been an issue that has come to the fore in recent years, especially since the HEFCE requirements for the next REF were published.  These state that, to be eligible for submission to the next REF, ‘authors’ outputs must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository. Deposited material should be discoverable, and free to read and download, for anyone with an internet connection.’ (HEFCE 2015).  This applies to journal articles and conference papers, but there are also advantages to publishing open access with other types of information too.  Likewise the open access debate contains much more than the need to adhere to HEFCE regulations.

This video by PhD Comics explains this more. Although it has an American and scientific bias, the claims made are transferable to other areas.

Laura Wilkinson, a librarian at the University of Sunderland, has also written a great overview of the main issues for academics. She covers some concepts you may have heard in the past, in relation to OA, such as green and gold publishing, and the key drivers for the OA movement.

You may have heard various things about OA, but it is important to note that publishing in this way does not mean a drop in quality (there are peer-review processes in place, just as there are with the traditional publishing model), nor does it make you more prone to predatory publishers (these have always existed – OA is just the latest excuse for them to use).  We have written more on evaluating publishing options for quality on our researcher blog in ILS.

There are lots of different platforms and methods of open access publishing.  Making your work available on an institutional repository, such as RaY here at YSJ, will help ensure your work is made both open access and eligible for the next REF.  Using RaY will also ensure you get the input of a librarian who understands the restrictions your chosen publisher may have put on your work – something to definitely bear in mind (and which links to the licensing issues we covered in Day 3).  There are other open access options though.

Some journals offer open access at the point of publication (although there is sometimes a charge associated with this, and there may be an alternative way of making the work open access without paying – if you get an email offering OA for a charge, it is definitely worth discussing it with a librarian before you part with any cash). There are subject specific repositories (e.g. CogPrints for Psychology, Linguistics and Neuroscience). Lots of people self-archive using ResearchGate or Academia.edu, although this doesn’t make a work REF eligible, and you should make sure you are aware of the terms you are agreeing to when you use these sites.  There may also be surprises ahead in terms of the direction in which these sites are going, as this Twitter conversation about potential payment shows!  With any of these options it is important to understand what your publishing agreement allows you to repost. Some authors have received a shock later in the process, as people who received take-down notices found out.

Explore more…

To find out more about how to locate open access papers: http://ysjilsresearch.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/open-access-research-how-to-find-it.html

An open access book on the topic of open access!: Eve, M. P. 2014. Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies and the Future. Cambridge University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316161012

*Dr Ernesto Priego is a lecturer in library science at City University, London. He writes a lot on Digital Humanities and Open Access. https://epriego.wordpress.com/

*Dr Ross Mounce works in the Department of Plant Science at the University of Cambridge and writes extensively on Open Access (specifically Open Science). http://rossmounce.co.uk/

*These researchers have their own views on Open Access – they are not necessarily ours!


Complete an Activity


Choose one of the two case study scenarios below and add your response to the comments section below. Of course, please do both if you wish!

Scenario 1

You have already agreed to publish an article in the British Educational Research Journal, and signed their default contract.  You want local teachers to be able to access the article too, but they don’t have access to a library with a subscription to the journal. What are your options?

Check Sherpa Romeo for the default terms and conditions for this journal. 

Are you able to deposit a copy in the institutional repository?  If so, is there an embargo?  Which version are you allowed to deposit?

Comment below about whether your findings were different to what you expected? Why/Why not? Do you think it is fair that those without a subscription to the journal should wait?

Scenario 2

You are carrying out a systematic review into a treatment. There is a key paper that you need quick access to, but your library doesn’t have a subscription to the journal in question. Have a go at locating this paper. Comment on your thoughts on the process below.

Baird, G.,  Pickles, A., Simonoff, E., Charman, T., Sullivan, P., Chandler, S., Loucas, T., Meldrum, D., Afzal, M., Thomas, B., Jin, L. and Brown, D. (2008) Measles vaccination and antibody response in autism spectrum disorder. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 93, pp. 832-837.

Check CORE

Check Google Scholar

Check repository at institution of author is there an alternative version, or an option to contact them?

Complete at least three activities across the five days to earn our ‘Open Education Enthusiast’ badge


  • Day 5: Becoming an Open Educational Practitioner

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @YSJTEL and @YSJ_ILS or search the hashtags #YSJOpenEd and #OpenEdWeek for additional materials or comment.


TEL Team LogoInformation Learning Services LogoCourse facilitators:

Róisin Cassidy (Technology Enhanced Learning),
Ruth MacMullen, Ruth Mardall and Clare McCluskey-Dean (Information Learning Services)


<<< Day 3: Creative Commons Licensing: know your SA from your ND!  Day 5: Becoming an Open Educational Practitioner >>>

Roisin Cassidy

Working to the Directorate’s annual objectives and the TEL Quality Framework, Róisín’s role as a TEL Advisor is to proactively support and develop staff in using technology to enhance the student learning experience. Her main focus will be to advise academic staff on effective use of learning technologies to develop innovative learning resources, processes and practices. She will also provide staff advice and development on the core TEL systems and technologies, with particular responsibility for Mahara and Turnitin. Róisín is also interested in how ‘Open Badges’ could be employed to facilitate motivation and reward in student learning and staff development at York St John. Roisin is the primary contact for colleagues in the Faculty of Arts & the Business School.

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2 Responses

  1. Mel Chan says:

    According to Sherpa Romeo, The British Education Research Journal allows authors to archive pre-prints of their article (e.g. a document produced using Microsoft Word) but not the final printed version (e.g. formatted PDF). I was not surprised because this journal is part of the Taylor and Francis group which is a major academic publisher and I have come across these restrictions before. Sherpa Romeo states that there is a two year embargo so that after that time period has elapsed the published version could be made public/freely available. Whilst it does not appear fair that those without a subscription to the journal should wait two years to access an article, this is the economic model that funds these particular types of journals. For these journals rely on subscribers from the Higher Education Community to keep their business afloat.

  2. Peter Monether says:

    It appears that the author can deposit a pre-print version with an archive, but there is a 2-year embargo. Although this world of archiving is new to me, I was surprised that an educational journal should have such restrictive policies and practices. I think I will need to do some more exploration of archiving journal articles to understand this better. Today’s post appears to have many valuable links to get me started!

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