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Open Access and ePrints: OA: the basics

Information & guidance on Open Access publishing & resources and Newcastle University's institutional repository ePrints

What is Open Access?

Open Access publishing provides online access to scholarly research which is:

  • Free - the end user does not have to pay any subscriptions or fees to read the full text
  • Unrestricted - the reuse permissions allow the author and the end user to make full and free use of the material: they can view, download, print, copy, share, and create derivative works from the material, as long as they credit the original author

Use the Library's Open Access webpages to:

  • Help you to decide if you need or want to make your research publications open access
  • Show you the different routes you can choose to make your work open access
  • Check your funders' requirements; many funding bodies now mandate OA publishing under specific conditions

Contact for help and advice at any time.

Open Access: a timeline in policies

In June 2012 Dame Janet Finch and the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings recommended in their Report (a.k.a. the Finch Report) that "the UK should embrace the transition to open access, and accelerate the process in a measured way which promotes innovation but also what is most valuable in the research communications ecosystem". The ultimate aim is to make all publicly-funded research publicly-accessible for free.

The Government's response was to accept all of the recommendations made (with the exception of a specific point on VAT) and welcome the push to Open Access.

Research Councils UK followed this with a change in policy on Open Access which will affect all future research grants.

This policy was revised in March 2013 following the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee short Inquiry into Open Access during January/February 2013. The Committee Report on Open Access, published on 22nd February 2013, criticised the RCUK's lack of clarity on its policies and recommended it improve its communication strategy to aid future compliance within the scholarly communication system. Responses, evidence and commentaries on the Inquiry can be found on this page - see Open Access in the Press.

RCUK published it's revised policy on 8th April 2013, along with a set of FAQs for guidance.

The Business, Innovation and Skills Department followed this up with the 5th Report into Open Access, published on 10th September 2013. On 26th November 2013 the Government's response and the RCUK's response were made available.

What Can Be Achieved Through Open Access?

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Open Access Week

International Open Access Week

SPARC organises the International Open Access Week every year; for more information and links to activities, events and resources worldwide see

NCL Open Access

Understanding the Process (for Researchers)

Publishing options graphic

If you decide to publish your work Open Access use our interactive decision tree to help guide you to the best route for your circumstances.

Routes to OA Publishing

Routes to OA

Our webpages offer help and advice on whether to choose Gold or Green and how to apply.

What are APCs?

APCs (Article Processing Charges) are the up-front costs incurred through Open Access publishing. An APC can be levied by a subscription-based journal which will make your article available OA or by an Open Access journal which charges to publish your article. These up-front costs can either be paid for by authors, by academic institutions, or by funding bodies.

Why is there a cost involved?

Open Access journals do not generate revenue through subscription fees - they rely on advertising and publication fees, with the cost being transferred from the consumer to the producer. However, not all Open Access journals charge APCs.

The subscription-based journals which offer OA publishing are often known as hybrid journals. When they make individual articles openly available for free they do not generate revenue on those particular articles, thus they pass on the editorial and processing costs to the producer in the form of an APC.

Think OA

We would encourage all staff and students who publish research to look carefully at any contracts you sign with publishers, and be aware of your intellectual property rights. Most journals do allow authors to make a copy of their research available open access, but if you're in doubt, do ask. You may be able to modify the terms of your contract if you feel it is too restrictive. Library staff can provide templates or contact publishers on your behalf.

Please remember to keep your own copy of any papers you publish (final, corrected version). Many publishers allow you to deposit your own copy of your article in an institutional repository, but not the publisher's PDF version.

If you are unsure about the copyright conditions of your publisher please search the SHERPA ROMEO database for details.

For further information, guidance and support on all aspects of research (including funding, IPR, and Copyright) contact Research and Enterprise Services.