Open access for books

Although most University of Sheffield researchers will encounter open access in relation to journal articles, there are also a growing number of options for making monographs, edited collections and book chapters openly available. The Directory of Open Access Books indexes and provides access to scholarly, peer reviewed open access books from over 600 publishers.

Gold open access

Books can be made immediately available on the publisher’s website under a creative commons license in the same way as journal articles. In order to finance this, some publishers charge a book processing charge (BPC). BPCs can range from £8000-£12000 (+ VAT) depending on the publisher and length of book. There are also other business models for open access book publishing which do not rely on BPCs, including library or consortial membership schemes, print sales, institutional subsidies or funding new open access titles through subscription access to a press’s backlist.

Green open access

Some publishers will allow authors to deposit a version of the chapter, book (whole or in part), into WRRO through myPublications in the same way as they do for journal articles. This version (usually the Author Accepted Manuscript) is made available through the repository after any required embargo period. Self-archiving policies for books and chapters are often not as easy to find as those for journals, so authors may have to check the details with their publisher.


The UKRI open access block grant cannot currently be used to fund book processing charges as books are not covered by the UKRI open access policy. However, researchers are able to request costs associated with open access book publishing in UKRI grant proposals, as long as they are fully justified within the application.

The Wellcome Trust will fund book processing charges for its authors.

Other funders such as Leverhulme allow open access book publishing to be costed in as part of a grant proposal, but often with the stipulation that costs are incurred during the period of the award (rather than after the award has finished).

Other options for OA book publishing

The University of Sheffield is part of Open Book Publishers’ Library Membership Scheme, an independent, non-profit open access publisher that does not charge BPCs. There are also a number of other small open access presses that are developing alternative business models (see ScholarLed for more information). The White Rose University Press (jointly run by the Universities of Sheffield, Leeds and York) charges BPCs starting at £6000 for an OA monograph, and has a waiver fund which Sheffield authors are eligible to apply for.

Open access policies

UKRI is due to announce an updated open access policy aligned with Plan S later in 2021, and this is likely to include monographs in scope for the first time. The consultation document can be accessed on the UKRI website. The OA policy for the REF-after-REF 2021 may also include monographs in scope, and there is expected to be further consultation with the research community on this.


The Wellcome Trust expresses a strong preference for a CC BY license but, unlike their policy for journal articles, allows its monograph authors to use any of the creative commons licenses, including CC BY-NC and CC BY-NC-ND. There is likely to be ongoing discussion about licensing as monographs are brought in scope of UKRI and REF policies, taking into consideration concerns raised by the research community of unintended implications of the CC BY license for monographs, and for arts and humanities scholarship.

Further help

If you have any questions or want to talk more about open access books, get in touch with