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Guide to Open Access Publication

Open access is making research results freely available to anyone with an internet connection rather than keeping those results hidden behind a subscription paywall.  While the majority of journals are now published online (many exclusively), often they are only available to people who pay, or are members of an institution that pays, a subscription.  Put simply, open access uses digital technology to make research findings widely available.  Researchers can make their work open access by one of two ways: by depositing an open access copy of their published work in a repository, or by publishing in a journal that is free to readers. 

In 2013 the UK Research Councils (including the Arts and Humanities Research Council) announced that, as from 1 April that year, all publications resulting from projects funded by them would have to be made accessible under open access terms. In 2014 HEFCE announced that the same would apply to all research to be submitted to future research assessment exercises. The net result is that all research by University-based researchers, in the Faculty of Music as elsewhere, must be published under open access. These provisions apply to peer reviewed articles and conference proceedings, but not to monographs, papers in edited books, or other outputs such as edited music or compositions.

The University has established a website that provides information on open access publishing and the University's procedures for handling it, and also enables researchers to apply for open access clearance. In brief, there are two options for open access publication:

  • the 'green' option, where a version of the article is made available in the University’s or other repository, if necessary after an embargo period.  The article will probably be in the form of the 'author accepted manuscript' (AAM), i.e. the author’s peer reviewed and corrected version without copy editing.  There is no charge to make work available in a repository.

the 'gold' option, where the work is published open access.  This often requires a payment to the journal (generally in the region of £1,500 to £2,000). Open access journals (such as those published by PLOS) publish all of their work open access.  Many subscription journals offer ‘hybrid’ open access, where payment makes that specific article available but the remainder of the journal is under subscription. Where possible the University favours the 'green' (no cost) option, and the working assumption—which may or may not prove correct for overseas journals—is that the majority of journals should comply with this. Some funders' requirements are more stringent, meaning that the 'gold' option will have to be adopted, but in that case the necessary funding will be available from the funder. The University manages the funder’s block grants but does not have its own fund for open access publication.

The University's system is very simple: when you have an article accepted for a peer reviewed journal or conference proceedings, visit the University's open access website, enter the details of your publication, and the University will do the rest. If there is a problem—such as that a journal does not support open access publication—it is important that you contact the Chair of Faculty Research Committee (currently ) to discuss the matter. This is an area in which policy is changing rapidly and it is likely that the University will further develop its open access policies and procedures.

There are a few further details you should know:

  • for submission to the REF, open access publication is only required for articles or published conference papers accepted after 1 April 2016, although the University would prefer us to be publishing open access from now on
  • the embargo period allowed for the REF is up to 24 months , but the article or paper must be lodged within the repository within three months
  • to avoid a situation in which you have an article accepted by your preferred journal but are unable to proceed with publication owing to open access requirements, you may wish to explore their open access policies before submission (by looking on their website or, if necessary, contacting the editor). Should your preferred jouurnal not support open access, please contact the Chair of Research Committee
  • two useful publications are HEFCE's policy document 'Policy for open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework' (http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/hefce/content/pubs/2014/201407/HEFCE2014_07.pdf) and the British Academy report 'Open access journals in the humanities and social science' (http://www.britac.ac.uk/templates/asset-relay.cfm?frmAssetFileID=13584).