What is open access?

Open access (OA) means free online access to research outputs such as journal articles and conference papers.

There are two main routes to open access:

green

gold

Authors publish in a subscription journal and also deposit a version of the article (usually the author accepted manuscript) in an open access repository. This version is made freely available online after any embargo period set by the publisher.

University of Sheffield authors are encouraged to deposit articles and other research outputs in the University’s repository White Rose Research Online via myPublications. Articles made available through green OA are eligible for submission to the REF, provided this is done within the required time period.

Authors publish in a journal that provides immediate free access to the article on publication, with as few copyright and licensing restrictions as possible. Articles go through the usual peer review and editing processes, with an article processing charge (APC) often - but not always - required by the publisher. Gold OA is also a requirement of a number of funders. Some funders provide assistance to pay for APCs, while some publishers offer APC discounts. You can find details of many OA journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

NB Articles may be labelled ‘free access’ or even ‘open access’ on a journal website, but this does not necessarily mean they are gold OA. Similarly, an open padlock symbol may only indicate that the article has been made available through a subscription.To be gold OA, the downloadable article should contain a Creative Commons licence statement.

Benefits of open access

For the researcher: Global exposure for your work can increase citation rates and lead to new academic collaborations. Open access is also required for compliance with University, REF and many funder policies.

For the research community: Researchers can access and build upon your findings, including those in institutions unable to afford journal subscriptions.

For the wider community: People around the world can read your work - including the taxpayers who helped to fund it - and benefit from innovations that may develop from it.

Diagram illustrating benefits of open access, as outlined in the text above

You can find out more in the video Open access explained!

For further information, contact OAEnquiries@sheffield.ac.uk.